When I received an email from Sweet Susannah regarding this blog topic I was both excited and nervous. To be honest, I have struggled to find a topic I could really run with that was deep in any way. I have these ideas, but can't seem to find the time to put them out there. That and so many of them still seem too abstract in my head to formulate into anything. It's frustrating because those spiritual/walk with the Lord posts are my favorites. And to be honest, I've been learning some amazing things in 1 Chronicles/Jeremiah/John where I'm currently reading. So I'm nervous. But I am praying for the words to come. And I know God promises that I can wait in expectation for His Spirit to come.
So I did. And I have. And I'm going to go off on this topic to a place that might not really be considered to be about being in His image, per se. But I've become more and more overwhelmed by the need to speak this out lately. I say this with love and a desire for you to know Christ so so so deeply.
Christ walked with conviction. We are called to walk with conviction. John 4:24 says we must worship the Father in Spirit and Truth. I don't know if you are as painfully aware as I am, but this postmodern, relativistic world we live in doesn't hold to dogmatic truth. That's great for the world. But Christians- we are called to walk against grain of the world. We are called to be Christ to the world and to do that, we have to look/act/be different. Christ warned us over and over that all men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved (Matthew 10:22). Christian- if your opinions on things are such that the world admires your openness, you might not be walking in the image and conviction of Christ. No I am not endorsing you to be rude. Conviction has to do with how you stand firm in what you believe. You can love everyone without compromising what you believe. I don't have to love the sinner by acting like the sinner. I am saying love the sinner like Christ did- by calling him or her out of sin (He always did this gently in a 'this is what God says way' not a 'your wrong way') and walking with him so he can go and sin no more. There's no compromise in that. None.
I am the first to acknowledge that it's hard to live as Christ did. I struggle daily with being selfish. And honestly, I am way too quick to use certain words I've never quite managed to glean out of my vocabulary. I know it takes serious resolve to stay pure in a relationship as a Christian. I've been on the failure side of that with Michael. And praise the Lord, I've managed to walk in the Spirit of Christ with Jimmy. It is a struggle. But we can't just give up defeated and say oh well, I'm just going to wallow in my sin and embrace it. We are not to sin all the more so grace can abound all the more. Paul specifically addresses this. Christ (albeit perfectly) fought and fought against Satan's temptation. No matter how many times we fail, Christian, as an image bearer of Christ to the world, we had better keep fighting. We have a standard= Christ. We are called to live by the standard. And we thank God for grace when we can't. But grace doesn't change the standard.
Therefore I urge you, in view of God's mercy (grace/love), to offer your bodies (image of Christ and what He did) as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God- this is your spiritual act of worship (which we do in Spirit and Truth). Do not conform (you ought to live different) any longer to the pattern(thinking-what is right/wrong/truth) of this world, but be transformed by the renewing (know your Bible) of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is. ~ Romans 12: 1-2
Ladies (and gents), wayyyy too many Christians look, believe, think, and act like the world. With every compromise on purity, every compromise in relationships, every compromise on excess, every compromise on what we fill our minds with, every compromise with politics, we sully Christ's image. I am so disappointed in the Church as a whole today. Anything goes. And half the time church is nothing more than a pep talk or better yet a freak show entertainment set with great bands and some cool set props. This isn't Bible based Christianity. As for those of you who say the gospel needs to be 'relevant'....
I'm pretty sure the need for salvation is 'relevant' to all people. Since all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.. (but we are) justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Jesus. Romans 3:23-24. There's no way to need a live lion and live lamb on the stage to explain to people why they need Christ. Sorry. Why don't you take your excess prop money and spend it on mission trips. There are about 3 billion people who've never heard of Christ. Don't think suburbia needs your daggum cool church props while all these unreached go to hell because no will come tell them the gospel. Christ healed and spoke truth into people's lives. That's all anyone needs. And my guess is, in this world today, people need to hear/see/taste truth more than ever before.
For those of you that say the Bible needs to be relevant to the times because people and opinions have changed... well I think that's just plain dangerous. First of all, it is irrelevant again because the point of Christ is that all have sinned and fallen short and we are justified by grace. (see above). Since no one in modern times has stopped sinning, that is not valid. Second of all, Christ made clear what standards fell away from the Law with his arrival and what standards didn't. Standards of purity, standards on the value of life, standards on what is sin never changed. What changed was our access to grace. Grace is not this magical thing that makes it possible to live lives of excess, selfishness, entertain me. Grace doesn't reward us with strokes to our ego, it's ok if you don't choose purity, date who you want, choose what you do with your body. No- it's not ok. Grace covers the mistakes, but it definitely expects you to be looking up to Christ and changing your behavior.
I am no perfect person. And I fail at looking like Christ way way too much. But I grieve so so so much for my fellow millenial generation. This generation just struggles with a standard of truth. Too many of us are willing to cross over the battle lines to be friends- and leave the truth behind us. We need to find a way to hold to the truth when we are out loving others. What good is our social justice, our open mindedness, if it waters down who Christ is, what he stood for? And ohh the atrocity of the lost not hearing and receiving Christ because we are too worried about blending our image of Him in with the world!
Dear Christian, I pray you know Christ so intimately that His glory is worth far more than your desires or your reputation or your friendships. Seek Him first, and all the things you want will be added to you.
His Love Always,