Conformity to Christ: It’s An Inside Job

Article by: Bridgehaven Team

     If conformity to Christ requires us to face our own tendencies toward idolatry, then how does facing personal idolatry relate to spiritual disciplines, suffering, and community?

“God wanted to make known among the Gentiles the glorious wealth of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” Colossians 1:27 HCSB

     Brian Hedges, in Christ Formed in You, paints a clear contrast between idolatry (self-centeredness) and living a Christ-centered life. God’s plan for every Believer is to be conformed to the image of His Dear Son, and Hedges states that God uses Spiritual Disciplines, Suffering and Community as the primary means to the Believer’s transformation.

     First, Spiritual Disciplines are meant to help us ‘build our lives around Jesus” rather than building our lives around our own selfish motivations and ambitions. Spiritual Disciplines are the tools, the author says, God uses to “transform us into the image of Christ” using the details of our lives. To practice Spiritual Discipline, we must sacrifice our schedules, our priorities and in doing so we lay down our lives and ambitions to follow Christ.

     Second, Suffering is used by God to make us more like His son, and is perhaps the most difficult to embrace and understand because we desire comfort, and abhor pain. Hedges says “God uses suffering to wean us from our idols.” Suffering reveals who we are and what we truly desire– suffering is a purifier and without it our idolatrous hearts, the author says, would be divided.

    Finally, Community is a major part of how God transforms Believer’s into the image of Christ. Transformation takes place in community and relationships are used by God to reveal our desire to sit on the throne of our own lives, instead of allowing God to sit in that rightful place. Living in community requires dying to self, and shines a bright light on our desire to be the god of our own lives. This is becoming more difficult in a society where friends are counted and coveted more as followers than as confidantes and intimates.

      The task feels daunting, yet there is hope and good news!

“When we despair of gaining inner transformation through human powers of will and determination, we are open to a wonderful new realization: inner righteousness is a gift from God to be graciously received. The needed change within us is God’s work, not ours. The demand is for an inside job, and only God can work from the inside. We cannot attain or earn this righteousness of the kingdom of God; it is a grace that is given,” writes Richard Foster in the Christian classic Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth.


In Christ,

Beverly Headen

Staff Counselor, Bridgehaven Counseling Associates

My contact information at Bridgehaven is:

Office Phone: 919-825-1742


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