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The Works of Christ

Posted on January 22, 2020 at 12:00 AM Comments comments (0)

Dear Saints;

The Works of Christ

If we are going to strive for the “prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (what I have identified simply as being Christ), we are going to have to do more than just express the character of Christ. We are going to engage in and do the very “works of Christ”. To encourage his worried disciples Jesus promised they would be doing his works, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.” (John 14:12). He had shocked them with the announcement that he was leaving them here to love others like he had done and promised they would do “greater works than these” because he was going to the Father. Those works would only be greater in the sense their ministry would be longer than his as he was going back to the Father, but they would continue doing his works for the rest of their lives.

 

It is our privilege in fulfilling our own high calling of God in Christ Jesus to do the works he did while living in this world. We, too, are to seek that which is lost and to minister to their needs. Like Jesus we are to spiritually open the eyes of the blind, strengthen the paralyzed, cleanse the leper, feed the multitudes, raise the dead, etc. While we may not actually do the miraculous feats, he performed as signs from God, our ministry will accomplish the same spiritual purpose as his in loving others. This is all part of “being Christ” in this world.

 

Being Christ by doing his works needs to be defined in relational terms of grace as opposed to the religious terms of performances and job descriptions. First, they are words and actions that are expressions of the love of Christ in our relationships. Rather than simply record a list of rituals and religious activities to be performed, the Bible defines our ministries in terms of relationships. In every book or letter of the New Testament there is at least one major passage devoted to describing the way God wants us to relate to one another. In addition to loving one another, we are called on to forbear one another, in honor prefer one another, forgive one another, exhort one another, be kind to one another, encourage one another, speak the truth with one another, weep and rejoice with one another, warn one another, comfort one another, pray for one another, confess our faults to one another, support one another, as well as a host of others. Clearly, God is concerned about how we relate to one another! It is in our relationships that we are going to be doing the works of Jesus and, therefore, “being Christ to others”.

 

It is comforting to know that God has ordained these good works for us to do just as Jesus promised all who believe on him would do his works. We do not have to worry about identifying them or trying to do them on our own. We are God’s “workmanship created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God had before ordained that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2: 10). As always, our responsibility as Christians comes down to one thing and one thing only…believe! Trust what he says is true about us being Christ to others and trust the indwelling Spirit of Christ guiding us daily to do the good works he has planned for us to do.

 

John

 

Being Christ As You

Posted on January 15, 2020 at 11:55 AM Comments comments (0)

Dear Saints;

 

The idea of “being Christ” to others can be somewhat confusing. Even if we define it as loving others the way Jesus does it may still be hard to comprehend exactly what that means in a practical way. Perhaps the greatest source of confusion comes when we view it simply as a flurry of religious activities. Jesus was certainly not religious. In fact, it was the religious folks who wanted to crucify him. So, “being Christ” is certainly not going to be religious in any sense. Despite the fact that it is our “high calling of God in Christ Jesus” this idea is often difficult to understand much less live out.

 

To grasp what this idea really means was the primary goal in the apostle Paul’s life. While he admitted that he didn’t fully understand all that it meant he made trying to figure it out his top priority and encourages us to follow his example. To know what it means to “be Christ” to others in this world is to know our true purpose in life. After all, our Father has left us in this world with the calling, mind, and Spirit of Christ for the same reason he sent his Son into the world in the first place. We are “ambassadors for Christ” and individual members of the “body of Christ” so that we can “be Christ”.

 

In essence we are “Christ”. In the same way that my little finger is me we are Christ. While it is true that my little finger is certainly not all of me, it is me. If you mess with my little finger you are messing with me. My little finger does what I tell it to do and is not only controlled but also protected by me. Apart from me my little finger has no identity or purpose in life. As members of the body of Christ we each have a unique purpose to fulfill in expressing Christ to the world we live in. In this way each of us have the privilege of “being Christ“ throughout our lives.

 

But what does that look like in our practical day to day life? Does being Christ mean that we change our basic personality? Not at all! The good news is that God has joined you inseparably to his Son so that you are Christ as you. The person God has made you to be is really you with the full righteousness of Christ. The new you has been given the righteousness of God so that you not only have a new destiny, but you also have a new past. Your personality has been redeemed so that the new you is still identified as you in Christ. You can now be “Christ as you”. Your old identity apart from Christ was worthless and without purpose in this life. But your new identity in Christ is both worthy and meaningful.

 

Being Christ to others does not mean you have to be somebody different than who God has made you to be. It is just being the real person you are instead of who you used to be. Your new character is the character of Christ revealed by the fruit of the Spirit. The real you is filled with love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and self-control. Like the apostle Paul your priority in life is simply to be Christ as you in this world.

 

John

 

The High Calling of God in Christ Jesus.

Posted on January 9, 2020 at 10:15 AM Comments comments (0)

Dear Saints;

 

Each of us have been given a “High calling of God in Christ Jesus” according to the Scriptures. While we may sense that is true most of us struggle with understanding exactly what that means. Our confusion may be due to historical misconceptions of the concepts of “ministry” or “spiritual gifts” propagated by the institutional church. From the third century on the religious notion of ministry was restricted to the “clergy” performing a variety of rituals in the confines of a church building.

 

Our high calling of God in Christ Jesus has nothing to do with a special class of people, dressed in special clothing, performing special rituals, in a special building, on a special day. It is a task given to all believers by Jesus’ own command to love one another as he does. Because of our spiritual union with Christ (we are in him and he is in us) each believer is “Christ”. We are individual members of the body of Christ, who are led and empowered by the Spirit of Christ and have the mind of Christ. As ambassadors for Christ in this world we are called to love others like Christ. In short, we are called to “be Christ” displaying his character of grace and truth in all our relationships.

 

Being Christ to others in this world is the real purpose for our lives. God has left us in this sin-cursed world living in sin-cursed bodies for the same reason he sent his own Son into this world. As the resurrected Christ said to his disciples, “As the Father has sent me, so send I you”. Our high calling of God in Christ Jesus is the privilege we have to be “Christ” to others in all our relationships at home, on the job, or in the community. But what does it mean to “be Christ” to others? What is involved in fulfilling this high calling of God in Christ Jesus?

 

The simplest way to answer these and similar questions about our calling is to review the God-given tools for the job. First and foremost is the indwelling Spirit of Christ given to every believer. Because our calling is supernatural. we must have the supernatural power of the Spirit. The same Spirit that raised Jesus from the grave lives in us to give us the power and direction we need to be Christ to others. Because we have been born of the Spirit, we are new creations of God with the very life and righteousness of Christ. Just as Jesus lived out his daily life and completed his mission in this world by the power of the Spirit, so we also live and are able to fulfill our high calling of God in this world.

 

Because we have been given the mind of Christ, we are able to believe our true identity as a child of God. Knowing we are one with Christ allows us to give up our rights to be ministered to in favor of serving others. The freedom from our natural selfishness gives us the ability to obey God even if it cost us our lives. Using the mind of Christ, we know we cannot lose no matter what it looks like. It is this joyful confidence that allows us love others like he does and fulfills our high calling of God.

 

John

 

Gifts for Jesus

Posted on December 23, 2019 at 10:50 AM Comments comments (0)

Dear Saints;

 

If you are like me, you are a last-minute shopper for Christmas presents. I’m not sure why. Probably because I tend to put off the effort in hopes of an easier or more novel way to show my love to those I shop for. Whatever the reason I find myself in the same situation today two days before Christmas. But while I try to think of what I will give to others I have to pause and consider what I will give to Jesus. After all, it is his birthday.

 

At its core giving Christmas gifts is an expression of love. I don’t know where the tradition began for sure, but I suspect it has something to do with the wise men giving gifts to the Christ child as recorded in Matthew’s gospel. If that’s the case, then it seems that giving gifts at Christmas needs to start with giving to Jesus. But that raises another issue entirely. What do you give the Creator and Sustainer of the universe? What could he possibly need or want? (And I thought finding a gift for my wife was difficult).

 

As I have come to know more about Jesus over the years, I’ve learned what seems to make him the happiest is when I trust him. I can’t fully understand it but my faith in him seems to be of the utmost importance to him. Maybe its because trusting him is an expression of my realizing who he is and what he has and is doing for me. Or maybe it is simply a realization and receiving of his unconditional and sacrificial love for me. Whatever the reason I am convinced that trusting him is a gift I can give Jesus.

 

But I noticed the wise men gave Jesus more than one gift. Matthew said they gave him “gold, frankincense, and myrrh.” While the gold may represent my faith in him, what about the frankincense and myrrh? Historically frankincense was used as a comforting aroma and myrrh as a healing agent. They seem to represent the comfort of hope and the healing that comes from love. Giving Jesus our faith produces in us the hope we need to love others like he does. In addition to trusting him I can also commit my life to him in the strength of the hope of glory. I can “present my body to him as a living sacrifice” with the endurance and comfort of the Spirit.

 

Finally, I can give Jesus the gift of love this Christmas by my willingness to be used to love others around me. As he told his disciples, “If you have done it to the least of these my brethren, you have done it unto me”. Being used of God to share his love for others is the final expression of our faith in Jesus. No matter where I am or who I spend this Christmas with I can trust Jesus for the grace to love others like he does. I am sure that the gift of living out his life through me is all that Jesus wants for Christmas. Merry Christmas.

 

John

 

Put Christ in Christmas

Posted on December 18, 2019 at 10:35 AM Comments comments (0)

Dear Saints;

 

Mary, the mother of Jesus, provides us with a spiritual model for truly celebrating Christmas. While this celebration is exciting for many reasons, like time off from work or school and the opportunity to visit family and friends, the “reason for the season” as they say is the birth of our Savior. The response of Mary to the angel’s message shows us a picture of how each of us can truly celebrate the birth of Jesus.

 

The message the angel spoke to the young woman was unbelievable! He told her she had received the grace of God to conceive in her womb a son she would name Jesus who would be the very Son of God. Obviously shocked by the message the first response Mary gave was simply, “How can this be?” What the angel said was beyond anything Mary could understand or had ever considered as a virgin engaged to be married. So, the angel explained that God was going to work in her through his Spirit to give her the supernatural ability to bear the Son of God and encouraged her by saying, “For with God nothing shall be impossible”.

 

Mary’s final response to the angel’s message was a simple statement of faith, “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word.” She believed that she was a servant of God and submitted to his plan for her life. She didn’t try to figure out how she was going to make it happen. Neither did she consult with anyone else to get their opinion of what she should do. She simply chose to believe the message she had received and submitted to the supernatural power and authority of God working in her life to bring forth his Son, Jesus.

 

While Mary’s experience was surely unique in that she alone gave birth to Jesus, as we celebrate his birth, we may each follow her example of faith. The same Spirit and power that came upon Mary to conceive Jesus in her womb and bring him into this world lives in every believer today. And that same Spirit is actively working in each of us to produce the very character of Jesus in and through us. Like Mary, we each have the grace of God to bring forth the life of Christ into our world. We each have the “high calling of God in Christ Jesus” to be Christ to others around us. The indwelling Spirit of God causes us to “conceive” Jesus within and “give birth” to his life.

 

The secular world actively seeks to exclude Christ from Christmas turning it in to nothing more than a “winter holiday”. If every believer would simply trust the indwelling Spirit of God to produce the character of Christ in them (love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance), we would not only “put Christ back in Christmas”, but Christ would take over Christmas. To truly celebrate Christmas, we need not quibble over manger scenes, the lyrics of Christmas songs, or how we greet others. To celebrate the birth of our Savior we need to be the living Christ to those around us. “By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love one to another.” -Jesus

 

John

 

The Light in the Darkness

Posted on December 12, 2019 at 1:10 PM Comments comments (0)

Dear Saints;

 

Each year at Christmas I’m reminded of the radical contrast between the love of God and the hatred of the world. Maybe it is because the gracious display of God’s amazing love for the world makes the evil so apparent like a brilliant light shining into utter darkness. Or maybe it’s just the natural response of a selfish world to the gracious offer of eternal life. Whatever the underlying reasons I am aware of the stark contrast between the love of God and the hatred of the world.

 

The story of the wise men seeking the newborn king of the Jews recorded by Matthew presents this contrast well. The earnest searching of the Magi for the newborn king of the Jews illustrates the grace of God in revealing his love for all mankind. In their innocence they were wanting to experience the most important event in the history of Israel and naturally went to the rulers in Jerusalem for direction. The very mention of the birth of the new king, the Christ or Messiah of Israel, troubled the entire city and forced the puppet king, Herod, to develop a plot to kill him. Manipulating the wise men to find the young Christ child in Bethlehem he instructed them to report back under the guide of wanting to worship him as well. The news of God’s love to Israel and the whole world was met with envy and murderous hatred by the leaders and religious rulers of Jerusalem. Had it not been for the divine warning given to both the wise men and Joseph the evil hatred of the world would have snuffed out the Light of the world before it could fully shine in the darkness.

 

This theme seems to be played out repeatedly in the history of the world. Every time God’s grace and love is offered the evil of the world in which we live reacts with indifference at best and violence at worst. In his description of the first advent of Christ into the world the apostle John gives us hope concerning this theme. He says, “And the Light shined in the darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.” (John 1: 5). The radiant light of God’s revelation of himself as love shined in this world of darkness when Christ was born. And the darkness of the world could neither accept it nor put it out. John reveals, “He was in the world, and the world was made by him. And the world knew him not. He came unto his own, and his own received him not.” (John 1: 10, 11). No matter how dark this world may be, it cannot overcome the light of God’s love.

 

In contrast to the rejection of the darkness of this world John declares, “But as many as received him, to them gave he the power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, no of the will of man, but of God.” (John 1: 12, 13). Despite the utter darkness of the evil of this world God not only revealed his light and love but gave all mankind the ability to believe on his name. And to them who believed on the true identity of the child who was born in Bethlehem God gave them the authority to become the sons of God themselves. The darkness of the world couldn’t stop God’s love then and can’t stop it now. Merry Christmas.

 

John

 

God's Greatest Gift

Posted on December 5, 2019 at 10:55 AM Comments comments (0)

Dear Saints;

 

The Christmas story describes the greatest gift of love the world has ever seen. The Father so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son. That gift of love to all mankind so far surpasses our wildest imaginations that we cannot understand its full meaning. But it is clear and simple enough so that even a child can receive it. Of particular note is the angelic announcement to the shepherds saying, “For unto you this day is born in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:11). The Father loved us so much he gave the world a Savior, Christ the Lord.

 

By the time Jesus was born in Bethlehem the world had proven many times over we need a Savior. Beginning with the fall of Adam and Eve in the garden the world had repeatedly shown itself to be opposed to God in every conceivable way. Even his own chosen nation, Israel, had repeatedly turned its back on God in favor of their own futile efforts to save themselves. Blinded by their own achievements in ruling the world, the ancient empires rose and fell ignoring their own Creator and need for his love. But to the lowly shepherds watching their sheep at night God announced his greatest gift to the world.

 

Anyone who will humble themselves as these lowly shepherds in Israel will realize their need for a Savior. Regardless of our increasing knowledge, technological advances, military might, and political savvy the world is on a path of destruction and misery. So “God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). John goes on to reveal that God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world (the world was already condemned) but to save it. Although the world was totally undeserving of anything but annihilation, God gave to us his greatest gift of unconditional love.

 

The gift of God’s amazing love is what we celebrate at Christmas, first by receiving it ourselves and then by sharing it with others. To receive it ourselves we simply believe “in the name of the only begotten Son”. We believe that baby born in Bethlehem and laid in a manger is the very Son of God, the Savior of the world, the Messiah of Israel, and the Lord of all the earth. We trust him to deliver us personally from the penalty and power of sin and set us free to love others around us. While our celebration may take many forms it centers around all that God has done for us in his only begotten Son, Jesus.

 

We don’t have to wait on the world to “straighten itself out” in order to have peace on earth. As the angels sang to the shepherds, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace toward men of good will”. Peace on earth to whosoever will believe on the name of the only begotten Son. Merry Christmas.

 

John

 

Snapshot of Grace

Posted on November 27, 2019 at 11:20 AM Comments comments (0)

Dear Saints,

 

In the practical section of his letter to the churches of Galatia Paul gives us a stern warning about the way we should be living our lives as believers. He says, “Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law, you are fallen from grace.” When we try to live our lives as believers through our own efforts at rule keeping, we are justifying ourselves by our own ability to keep the law. In this condition we have only our own self-righteousness to count on and not the righteousness of Christ making him of “no effect”. The natural outcome is described by Paul as “fallen from grace” since Jesus is full of grace and truth.

 

Having been saved from the penalty of sin by grace, those who return to their own efforts to live their new life in Christ are leaving the provisions of God’s grace for their continued walk. In essence, they are on their own to behave themselves and fulfill all the requirements of the law. In this condition they will fail miserably since the lifestyle believers are called to requires the supernatural grace of God to live. Yes, they remain the children of God since they have been born of the Spirit but are simply babes who need to grow in grace and knowledge. Growing in grace necessitates an understanding of what God is now doing for them as his children to mature them so they can actually love others like Christ.

 

Paul goes on to give us a snapshot of the lifestyle of grace in the following two verses. First, he describes the way we enter into God’s grace by saying, “For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith.” Through the personal leadership and direction of the indwelling Spirit of God we wait for the “hope of righteousness”. Notice he says that we wait. Because of our natural impatience in the flesh we naturally hate to wait for anything we think is good. Baby Christians often rush into their new lifestyle trusting their own knowledge of good and evil rather than the indwelling Spirit to lead them. Now that they have been born again, they believe it is their duty to pay God back for his salvation. Spurred on by religious teachers who are quick to give them a list of rules to keep, they engage in a variety of religious rituals and practices to make themselves good Christians.

 

Instead Paul insists that we wait for the hope of righteousness that can only be realized through the transforming power of the indwelling Spirit of God. Waiting on the Lord is not simply a passive state or a fatalistic philosophy but is done “by faith”. It is the exercised of faith that gives us access into the grace we live in. Our faith in who God has made us to be in Christ and all the associated promises is what we are called to believe. Such astounding facts as “being dead indeed unto sin and alive unto God”, “being dead to the law by the body of Christ”, being “married to Christ so that we can bear fruit unto God”, etc.; all describe our new identity in Christ and are realized in our personal experience only as the Spirit renews our minds. Such faith is essential for the believer to receive the grace of God to not only realize his new identity in Christ, but also begin to love others like he does. Just like our salvation from the penalty of sin we are being saved from the habit and dominion of sin by grace through faith.

 

Paul concludes this picture of grace as a lifestyle for the believer by telling us that our efforts to behave ourselves do not count with God. “For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision avails anything, nor uncircumcision; but faith which works by love”. The Jewish rite of circumcision was a real controversy in the Galatian churches as they were being taught a man cannot be saved unless he was circumcised and kept the Law of Moses. Here Paul states it is not what believers do or do not do that counts with God, but faith that us to love others. Our faith in our new identity gives us the personal hope we need to quit being so selfish and self-centered and actually care about others. Our faith in the personal leadership and power of the indwelling Spirit gives us the ability to do and say the things we must to love others like Christ.

 

John

 

 

Faith of the Son of God

Posted on November 21, 2019 at 3:10 PM Comments comments (0)

Dear Saints;

 

All believers struggle with the natural conditioning of this world when trying to live out our new lives in Christ. Among the most difficult issues is the fact that we have learned to trust our own knowledge of good and evil to make our decisions in life. In the pride of our natural humanity we believe the way to succeed in life is to know what’s right and wrong so that we can do what is right and quit doing what is wrong. Of course, this idea usually degenerates into the practice of doing what is wrong to get ahead and hope you don’t get caught.

 

This kind of lifestyle is what the Bible refers to as being “under the law”. It is trying to live our lives according to a set of rules and regulations that define for us what is right and what is wrong so we can obey its demands. The problem here is not necessarily the rules (especially God’s rules), but the fact we actually believe we can keep them. God did not give us his law as a means by which we might save ourselves from his curse or earn his blessings. Instead, he gave us the law to reveal his righteous character and prove to the entire world that we are in need of a Savior. The main argument of Paul’s letter to the Galatian churches is against the common idea that believers can now save themselves (earning God’s blessings and avoiding his coursings) by doing what they know is right and not doing what they know is wrong.

 

Such misguided faith in their own ability to interpret and apply the rules in their own lives effectively blocks their continuing faith in the personal leadership and power of the indwelling Spirit. While they may continue to believe they have been saved from the penalty of sin by the grace of God through their faith alone, they often fall from a lifestyle of grace and truth back into the old lifestyle of law and lies. In so doing they make Christ of “no effect” by seeking to establish their own righteousness according to their own ability to live up to the demands of the law. The net effect is a self-righteous religiosity rather than true spirituality. They have a “form of godliness but deny the power thereof”.

 

At the close of his personal testimony the apostle Paul announces that he has been crucified with Christ! He says, “I am crucified with Christ; nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me”. What an astounding statement! Notice he says that he continues to live but it is not him that lives but Christ that lives in him. Obviously, he is talking about a spiritual reality that the Galatians should remember him teaching them. In Romans 6 he explains that when we trust Jesus the old person we were is crucified with Christ and a new person is raised up in Christ to take its place. We are no longer the same person we have always thought ourselves to be, but a brand-new person who is able to live a new lifestyle.

 

Finally, he tells us how he is living his new lifestyle in Christ, “…and the life that I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” Rather than trusting himself to turn over a new leaf and keep the rules, he lives out the righteous life of Christ by exercising the “faith of the son of God”. He is now living by the same kind of faith that Jesus exercised to do the will of the Father here on earth. He was trusting in the personal leadership of the indwelling Spirit of God for the direction and ability to love like the Father. The new lifestyle of grace and truth is entered by those who exercise the kind of faith that Jesus displayed during his ministry, not by our own rule keeping. By faith we believe who God has made us to be and by faith we trust the personal leadership of the indwelling Spirit of God to say and do what he wants us to say and do to love others.

 

John

 

Thinking Like Jesus

Posted on November 13, 2019 at 3:30 PM Comments comments (0)

Dear Saints;

 

In his encouragement to the church at Philippi Paul urges them to, “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:5). The ultimate goal of the renewing of the mind and the changes it produces in the believer is to give us the mind of Christ. When we can see ourselves and others like Christ, hear and understand the love and direction of the Father like Christ, and feel the passions of Christ we are exercising his mind. It is a choice on our part to use the mind of Christ that was given to us by the Spirit of Christ when he created us brand new persons. All believers are given the privilege of thinking like Jesus in their everyday experience.

 

But how are we to know the difference between the natural or carnal mind of the flesh we are so used to and the mind of Christ? Paul doesn’t leave us wondering but goes on in the following verses to describe the characteristics of the mind of Christ we are to exercise. The first and most important characteristic is that Jesus knew who he was. Paul says, “Who {Christ} being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God.” By the time Jesus was twelve years old he knew who his real Father was and that he needed to be about his business. Three times throughout his public ministry the Father spoke directly to him from heaven assuring him that he was his beloved son in whom he was well pleased. Jesus had no doubt that he was not only the son of man, but the very son of God as well.

 

For us to exercise the mind of Christ we too are going to have to be sure of who we really are. We are going to have to accept by faith the Word of God telling us that we are no longer the same persons we were born into this world as, but brand-new creations of God as we have been born again of the Spirit. This gives us the same identity Jesus had as a child of God. Having been joined to Christ in his death, burial and resurrection we have been made alive in Christ and are blessed with all spiritual blessings. We are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, and a holy nation, a special people with the privilege of being the representatives of Christ in this world. It is this understanding of our new identity in Christ that first characterizes the mind of Christ and empowers us to act like Christ in our daily lives.

 

Being one with Christ, though an awesome position, is not something we use for our natural selfish ends, but the reason we are willing to give up our rights to be loved and respected. All believers by virtue of their new identity in Christ have a right to be loved and respected, but the mind of Christ is worked out in us when we give up our own rights to be ministered to so that we can serve others. Jesus did not come into the world to be ministered to, but to minister God’s love to others. As the divine son of God, he could have demanded the worship of the entire world, but instead he gave up his own rights so that he could minister to others. Because we are in him, we have all the personal love and respect we need from the Father so that we too can give up our rights to be served by others.

 

With the mind of Christ, we have the ability to hear the Father’s voice through the indwelling Spirit of Christ so we know how to identify with rather than condemn people and how to be obedient unto the Father’s will even if it costs our life. With the mind of Christ, we humbly submit to the will of the Father thinking more about others than we are ourselves. This radical change in our thinking is not something we do to ourselves, but rather accomplished as the “renewing of the mind” by the Spirit. The more we identify with Christ by faith, the more we become like him in our everyday lives and can actually “be Christ” to others as us. It is the mind of Christ in us that produces the character of Christ in us and causes him to live in us. Like everything else in our new life in Christ, allowing this mind to be in us is simply a call to faith in the personal work of the indwelling Spirit of God conforming us to his image.

 

John

 


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