Being a Christian can feel too complicated at times. It can be confused with a long list of chores or an in-depth character assessment checklist. But there is actually only one thing a believer needs to worry about to live a God-pleasing life, says a pastor out to unclutter Christianity.
Instead of modifying behaviors, Christians should focus on transforming their heart where those actions originate from, contends Pastor Robert Jeffress in his latest book Clutter-Free Christianity: What God Really Desires for You.
"I think God's number one desire for all of us as followers is to resemble his son Jesus Christ in our actions, attitudes, and affections," Jeffress told The Christian Post. "What I'm saying is that all the problems we encounter in life stem from heart issues.
"It all comes down to the heart, and that is why I believe that if we want to experience the kind of life God wants from us we have to have a transformation of our heart."
Like the Pharisees of old who devised 613 regulations for living, modern Christians can become highly distracted by secondary concerns and miss what God really desires for them, the Southern Baptist pastor writes.
Jesus responded to the rules and regulations Pharisees were obsessed with by reducing the laws down to two simple principles: love God with all one's heart and love others as oneself – both of which are heart issues.
But achieving this heart transformation will take more than gaining spiritual information or conforming to a code of conducts set up by religious groups, said Jeffress, noting these are the two popular beliefs Christians equate with spiritual transformation.
A spiritual transformation will require a person to turn their entire life over to God.
"The essence of spiritual transformation – the essence of living in the kingdom of God – is submitting to God's rule in all aspects of our lives," writes the senior pastor of the 11,000-member First Baptist Dallas church.
Spiritual transformation, however, is not the sole responsibility of God. It requires a partnership between God and the individual.
"Paul never said to work for our salvation, but he did command us to work out our salvation, knowing that while we're working it out, God is working within us, supplying us with all the supernatural power we need to overhaul our thoughts, will, and emotions," Jeffress writes.
"Without God's power, we can't become like Christ. Without our effort, we won't become like Christ."
There are three components to the process of spiritual transformation: desire, a detailed plan, and discipline. Through this process, believers can develop six heart qualities God desires: forgiving, obeying, trusting, being content, serving, and praying.
"Only when we desire, plan, and discipline ourselves to develop these qualities can we cut through the clutter and get to the heart of what God really wants for us," Jeffress writes.