So I'm still working on reading "The Pursuit of God" and I keep running across stuff that's just so good I want to share it with everybody; I don't always follow through with that because my brain is going a billion miles an hour trying to keep up with everything. However, I just read a paragraph that really stuck out to me that I feel very well illustrates one of the points I am trying to make in my book.
"A fairly accurate description of the human race might be furnished [to] one unacquainted with it by taking the Beatitudes, turning them wrong-side-out and saying, 'Here is your human race.' For the exact opposite of the virtues in the Beatitudes are the very qualities which distinguish human life and conduct."
In other words, the holy, righteous life we are called to when we come to Christ is so completely opposite from the natural man that we cannot be the same. This oppositeness of character would account for the "difference" people often attest to seeing in Christians. The problem is when we as Christians claim to be different but, in fact, are not different. Why are we not different? Because we allow our flesh to guide us. We do what we like and what gratifies our flesh rather than decidedly, conscientiously, and continuously submitting our desires to the Spirit of God within us.
Often our solution is to look at Scriptural lists such as the Beatitudes or the Fruits of the Spirit and try to pick at those characteristics in our own lives; we try to achieve them in our own power. However, all this serves to do is frustrate us and cause us to condemn ourselves because we know that we do not measure up to God's standard. In reality, the only way to measure up to the standard is to look to the standard. As Hebrews says "Looking to Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith." When we look to Jesus for our righteousness then He can fill us with His righteousness.
Let me quote here another part from "The Pursuit of God" which very well illustrates what I'm getting at.
"The man who has struggled to purify himself and has had nothing but repeated failures will experience real relief when he stops tinkering with his soul and looks away to the perfect One. While he looks at Christ the very things he has so long been trying to do will be getting done within him. It will be God working in him to will and to do."
So then, what can we conclude? Well, it is just as He has said all along "Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness." When you boil everything down, that's what it all comes down to. Seek God first, and you will find that turning your life inside-out and living that distinct, set-apart life will be the automatic by-product. No more beatin' up on yourself.