CHRISTLIKE… “DO” AND “DON’T”

Becoming more like Christ is a worthy goal, one that every Christian should work to achieve. But there is disagreement concerning which characteristics compose Christlikeness. Exactly how would a person feel and act if he was fully like Christ?

Many of us have a limited view of Christ. We believe that if we avoid sin we will be  like Him. Therefore we concentrate on identifying sin and obeying the details of scriptural and man-made rules. We become absorbed with the “don’ts” of Christianity.

Certainly Jesus was sinless. No attempt to model a life after Him will be successful unless sin is avoided. But unless our Christlikeness includes more we will become dangerously like the Pharisees of Jesus’ day. Their morality included little more than “Don’t.”

Jesus’ life was marked by more than sinlessness. His was a life of service to others. On more than one occasion when He wanted to get away from the crowds and go to a quiet place with the disciples the needs of the people were so urgent and great that they intruded into His life. Then He would put aside His own needs and minister to those who were hurting.

His ability to do this was based on His personal, intimate relationship with His Father. His consistent, intensive devotional life enabled Him to be a servant to all. Because of that intimacy He was always aware that His power to serve came from God. This allowed Him to remain humble, even when others were urging Him to become their earthly ruler.

What then is Christlike? It is a life of service to others that comes from a humble spirit. It is always giving God the glory while doing the work of a good Samaritan. It is praising God while helping the needy. It is telling others the message of salvation based on the Father’s mercy and grace. It is loving everyone, even the unlovely.

If we are not increasingly willing to love and serve, we are not becoming like Christ.

Musings #3

If we allow it, God will use our fears to move us deeper into our faith in Him. Or if we allow it, Satan will use our fears to move us into desperation away from the Father. Faith or desperation. The choice is ours.

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I have some difficult and unpleasant lessons to learn, but I have a wonderful Lord to lean on while I learn.

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My super hero has a cross, not a cape.

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Jesus left the ultimate comfort zone (heaven) to make the ultimate sacrifice (the cross) for me, the ultimate “he doesn’t deserve it.”

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Each morning when I ask God “What do you want me to do today” I need search no further than the life of Jesus for my answer.

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It is GRACE that causes God’s GREATNESS to become God’s GOODNESS that showers me with blessings I don’t deserve. It is MERCY that causes God’s MAGNIFICENCE to become God’s MIRACLES that protect me from receiving the punishment I do deserve.

Valued by God

To me the term “…poor in spirit…” (Matthew 5:3) means total humility, admitting that on my own I can do nothing (John 15:5.) God loves me regardless of my lack of talent, beauty, skills or possessions. In God’s system I have great value. I am a child in his family adopted through the death of Jesus on the cross.

In the world’s system a thing like this is unheard of. We are taught that we must do something or be something or have something before we are granted the status of “valuable or important.” But God says “You are valuable to me exactly as you are right now.”

Should we ever wonder how valuable we are to Him all we need do is look to the cross. Jesus died there to buy my eternal freedom from the consequences of my sins.  God’s grace means love without accomplishment. It seems to be a crazy system, but it is the way God does things and I sure am glad.

Rules vs Relationship

Many people try to please God by obeying the rules He gave rather than by enjoying a relationship with the Son He sent.

The tendency to do this is strong because rule-keeping is more concise and specific. It lets us keep track of the good deeds we do and leads to self-satisfaction and self-importance. It gives us ammunition when we try to convince God we are worthy of His blessings.

The Pharisees of Jesus’ day were rule followers. They were very good at it.  They never “walked up the down staircase.”  But in their blind, narrow version of obedience they missed the thrill of knowing Jesus as friend and brother.

Establishing an intimate relationship with Jesus can be unpredictable. Some days we feel He is near while at other times He seems distant. (The difference is always of our doing.) Does Jesus care if we break the Father’s rules? Sure He does. But if we confess and repent He continues to protect and provide. Our relationship with our Savior can never be broken.

The Holy Spirit guarantees every child of God a life of comfort and pleasure if we obey Him out of love and gratitude rather than an attitude of blind rule keeping.

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After Adam and Eve sinned they ran from  God. After we sin we should run to God. (Hebrews 4:16) Why? Because only from God can we receive mercy, grace and forgiveness. Only through the work of the Holy Spirit can I learn to accept that forgiveness from God, let Him show me how to forgive myself and discover ways to avoid doing it again.

The Road to Emmaus

The episode on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-36) is beautiful to me because it so instructive.

Just three days before, these two men believed they had found in Jesus the answer to all their political and spiritual questions. But their hopes that he would “redeem Israel” had been dashed. They were confused and disappointed followers of Jesus. (Don’t know about you, but I’ve been there and done that.)

But Jesus specifically and intentionally went to them in their struggle. (And he finds me in mine.)

After walking with them for awhile he started to leave them with only a partial understanding. They asked for more teaching and he obliged. (He gives me more when I ask.)

In verse 27 Jesus used scriptures to teach about himself. What scriptures? The Old Testament, because that is all they had.

I would love to have been there and heard Jesus tell about himself and his relationship to those OT writers. He could have said “I know exactly what Isaiah and Micah and David meant because I was right there with them when they wrote those words.” That is really teaching with “…authority…” (Mark 1:22)