I am sure of this, that he who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. — Philippians 1:6
In college I took a ton of chemistry classes, all of which were accompanied by regular laboratory time. We put into practice the theory we were learning from the lectures at that time. Chemical reactions copied down in our notebooks were later physically carried out in a beaker. Many experiments included a catalyst. Without the catalyst, the reaction would still occur . . . eventually. With all the components present, the final product would be produced, but the addition of a catalytic agent greatly sped up the rate of the reaction.
So it is with our spiritual growth. Ultimately, our transformation into a Happy Soul is a work of God, yet we have a catalytic role to play in that work. Just like those chemical reactions carried out in the lab, all the necessary components for spiritual transformation are present. All those who have put their faith in the work of Christ on the cross will be made to look just like Him . . . eventually. It is the certain work God has started, is working, and will complete within us. That is the equation. We are the catalysts.
Remember our “already but not yet” status we chatted through in part 1? We are already saved, but not yet. We are already a Happy Soul, but not yet. God has made us into a Happy Soul as part of our new identity in Christ (justification). God is making us into a Happy Soul as we partner with Him to work out that reality (sanctification). God will make us into a Happy Soul when we see Him face to face and the work He has begun in us is completed (glorification). It is then, in heaven with Christ, we will enjoy and worship God forever without the presence of sin. And though we will never experience the perfect presence of our holy God on this side of eternity, we can certainly begin to get a glimpse of it. The transformation has begun. But the extent to which we see that metamorphosis realized here on earth is affected by our participation or neglect of following God’s Way.
You and I are the catalysts of change in our own spiritual lives. The believers who understand their role of obedient choices as a catalytic agent will experience this transformation more quickly and more fully. Those who rarely engage in this work will see the bulk of their transformation occur on the other side of this life where God’s work of salvation will come to completion. I want to be as close as possible to what God has planned. Don’t you?
The first step to following God’s Way is understanding that He has crafted His Way to include you and me. His Way utilizes the actions of His people.
So what does this catalytic work actually look like? We cannot play our part if we don’t know what that part is. There are thousands of commands in the Bible, but they all boil down to this: Love God with all we have. When asked about God’s Way and which command is greatest, Jesus replied, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and most important command. The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:37–39). This love for God is an active, obedient love, as “whoever keeps his word, truly in him the love of God is made complete” (1 John 2:5).
To love God is to obey God. To obey God is to love God.
I think, deep down, we already know this. We cannot say we love God if we don’t at least attempt to walk in His way. I could spend time here listing out all the “rules and regulations” of following Christ, but that would miss the point. The end goal of God’s Way is not to simply follow the rules. God’s Way is given to us so that those who love Him can enjoy His holy presence. Let’s take a look at a few “next best steps” to take on our pursuits of loving and obeying God.
Jesus answered, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.” — John 14:23
This is an excerpt from my book, Secrets of the Happy Soul.