Christian character manifests Jesus Christ...
when we walk by the Spirit
Our lives should imitate and manifest the life of Christ. Our churches should imitate and manifest the ministry of Christ. Only when Jesus Christ is manifested through His church, transformed by the word of God in the power of the Holy Spirit, are the works of the devil destroyed in our generation.
- But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed - always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. For we who live are always delivered to death for Jesus' sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. (2 Corinthians 4:7-11 NKJV)
- I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. (Galatians 2:20 NKJV)
- ...be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. (Ephesians 6:10 NKJV)
- ...though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God... (2 Corinthians 10:3-5 NKJV)
- But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore...be steadfast... (1 Corinthians 15:57-58 NKJV)
- You are of God...and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. (1 John 4:4 NKJV)
- "My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work." (John 4:34 NKJV)
- "Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you." (John 20:21 NKJV)
- "As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world." (John 9:5 NKJV)
- "...I am the way, the truth, and the life..." (John 14:6 KJV)
- Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ. (1 Corinthians 11:1 NKJV)
- ...put on the Lord Jesus Christ... (Romans 13:14 NKJV)
- I saw a message on a church marquee: "Every Christian preaches a sermon every day". It is said that "actions speak louder than words". Paul called the church members at Corinth "a letter from Christ" — living epistles (2 Corinthians 3:1-3). If these things are so, we should ask ourselves a few questions. What message are we proclaiming? Do we practice what we preach, or do our actions contradict and void our words? Who is reading Christ's letter that is being written upon our life?
- Paul answered that last question... speaking generally: "Known and read by everybody". More specifically: our family (especially our children), our friends, our co-workers (superiors, peers, & subordinates), our neighbors, our customers, and even those who are merely our acquaintances... clerks, the local policeman, mailman, meter-reader, visiting tourist, etc. Some only scan the headlines, quickly form a first impression and never bother with a closer look. Others know our story intimately... even "better than ourselves".
- Is the Spirit of the living God writing upon your heart? Or are you the chief story-writer and senior editor? How can you tell? Simple: do you conform to the image of this world, or do you conform to the image Jesus Christ? Now listen... we are all a work in progress. We should not consider ourselves as having arrived, but we should be committed to making progress each day. If we are indeed a letter of Christ, we should bear some resemblance to His handiwork, we should bear His mark.
- With that said, we cannot completely conform ourselves to the image of Christ through our own effort. It is the transforming work of the Spirit and His Word. Our part is to submit our lives as a living sacrifice (Romans 12:1-2). That submission begins with simple obedience and holiness (1 Peter 1:13-16); involves a conscious commitment to follow, even imitate, the life and ministry of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 11:1); and is thoroughly, eventually brought to completion by God Himself (Romans 8:29, Philippians 3:20-21). Paul's testimony was: "I die daily (1 Corinthians 15:31)." and "...I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me... (Galatians 2:20, cf Philippians 1:20-21)."
- So what does living the Christian life look like? What does "right" look like? "Duh, Robert... how about Jesus Christ?", you say.
- Certainly, but that doesn't mean ...as some apparently think... molding our outward appearance into the modern world's image of Jesus; that we grow long hair and beards, wear a white robe, and carry a wooden cross. Though I am sure that even that makes people stop and think.
- Neither does it mean we adopt the popular caricatures of Jesus as political revolutionary, free-love hippie, or pacifist-ideologist seeking utopia on earth.
- Nor can it mean substituting the personality of Jesus for our own; God creates us to be unique.
- Rather, it means we adopt the character, the motives, and the roles of Jesus according to the biblical record of the time He walked upon the earth.
- The Bible gives us very few character traits of Jesus. Gentle, humble, and meek. But it doesn't give us a Boy Scout mantra... loyal, brave, trustworthy, etc., that we can pattern our complex lives after. Instead, the Bible reveals Jesus' character in action. Rather, the motives He acted upon and the roles He acted within.
- His motives, what energized Him and drove Him, are clearly stated: "My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work."
- The roles of Jesus are seen in His "I am..." statements scattered throughout the gospels. Several are given, but they can be summarized into four: The Light, the Life, the Truth, and The Way.
- Jesus said: "As the Father has sent Me, I also send you." If this world is to know Jesus, they must see Him living through us. Doing the will of the ONE who sends us, and fulfilling His work. Shining the light, sharing the life, proclaiming the truth, and pointing the way.