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THE TESTAMENT OF JESUS CHRIST

“And for this cause He is the Mediator of the New Testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance.” – Hebrews 9:15

 

It is the mistake of many people – Christians included – to think of the Bible as just a book. Or, even as just a holy book. Because the truly remarkable thing about the Bible is that it is so many things at once: a detailed history, a source of unearthly wisdom, a sacred text…and a contract – a contract more real and binding than any in this life could ever be. See, the two divisions of the Bible aren’t simply called the Old and New Testaments for no reason: they are called so because they are, indeed, testaments – in every sense of the word. These books bear witness – they give testimony – to the Covenants made between God and Man. And the New Testament is the covenant of Christ, who we are told is the “author and finisher of our faith,” (Heb.), and “the Alpha and the Omega,” (Rev.). Jesus Christ isn’t simply an actor on the stage of life…He is the playwright and the grand designer. Everything found within the books we cherish spring from Him, or from His Spirit: all the promises, the provisions, the chance of salvation…all these things are made possible by Him and Him alone.

 

“For where a testament is, there must also be the death of the testator. For a testament is of force after men are dead: otherwise it is of no strength at all while the testator liveth,” (Heb. 9:16-17). When we think of the word ‘testament’ in terms of today’s meaning, we might think of – for example – the Last Will and Testament of someone recently deceased. It is this meaning that the author of Hebrews uses to impress upon us the significance of Christ’s death, and it’s relation to His message. If the Gospels are His Testament, than the blood He shed upon the cross is the signature that makes the document valid. It is His blood that gives “force” and “strength” to the terms of our salvation – of the redemption from sin: “And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission, (Heb. 9:22). The passage in Hebrews goes on to say that, unlike the high priests who had to make annual trips into the tabernacle to shed blood for the remission of sins, Christ had only to do so once: that in His single sacrifice was enough purity to cover all the sins of every living man and woman from that day until the very last moment before His return. If that’s not impressive, I don’t know what is.

 

“For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but unto heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us,” (Heb. 9:24); meaning that He had no reason to enter into a temple that – though sanctified – was still made by mortal hands and but a “figure of the true”; instead, Christ entered into the presence of God “for us”, where He has been since, making intercession on our behalf. Because that is the deal – that is the testament He made: to take our place on the cross, and to stand in our stead before the Lord. In everything He has sought to spare us from sin, from pain – and from that terrible second death. In the verse at the top, Chris is called the “mediator” of the New Testament: this is because He is our intercessor to God – just as He is the facilitator and architect of our salvation…the “author and finisher of our faith”. And, it is the role of the mediator to stand in between two parties in any dispute: just as He stands between us and God, He stands between us and pain; He stands between us and death, between us and judgment…between us and Hell. Knowing all of this about our Lord, how can we not love Him, realizing just how much He loves us? Because in the end, His testament is really just an expression of His love for us: a testimony to His dedication towards such an unworthy people. He willingly shed His blood – the blood of God – to secure our freedom and eternal life. For Him to do all that He did tells me that He must have faith in us…and personally, I think it’s time we returned the favor. Just like it’s time to realize the power of the Testament: the strength and freedom we have in our covenant with Him – and to realize the power in the blood.

 

“For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of the heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, purge your conscience of dead works to serve the Living God?” – Hebrews 9:14

Be blessed,

Joshua

THE POWER OF INTERCESSION

“…Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel…Go thy way; and as thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee.” ­– Matthew 8:10&13

Most of us are familiar with the tale of the Centurion’s servant: on the surface, we see a tale that relates a simple – and yet, amazing – faith. But there is more to this story than just the power of faith – another lesson to take away besides this Gentile soldier’s steadfast belief in Christ’s power…and that lesson is the power and importance of intercession. See, we forget sometimes just how necessary intercessory prayer is; we forget because mankind, as a collective, is a selfish and self-serving species. We tend to focus our prayers on our own needs, and trials, and comfort – all the while forgetting that, as Christians, we have an obligation to put the needs of others above ourselves. Because prayer has power: an undeniable, remarkable power that can touch hearts and change lives…and the only thing we have to do to achieve this incredible power is to drop to our knees with a clear conscience and a sincere heart. The things that can be done with prayer cannot be underestimated – it is the prayers of the saints that gets things done: that brings peace, that heals, that uplifts, that convicts…that makes a difference. I remember once telling a loved one that praying for their difficulties was all that I could really do for them at the time…and that was when it struck me: it wasn’t just all that I could do, it was the most – and best – that any one person can do for another!

 

The Centurion in the story goes to Jesus on behalf of his sick servant, who was suffering terribly from palsy, “grievously tormented”. He goes in his servant’s place, as the servant was unable to do for himself, stricken with the illness. There is a parallel here to the Christian who goes to God in prayer for the lost, who – because they suffer from the greatest illness, sin – are also unable (or unwilling) to go forward themselves. When we go to our Lord on another’s behalf, asking in selfless faith for the benefit of others, I believe that we will be given the same response that Christ gave this Roman soldier: “As thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee.” (Matt. 8:13)

 

The Gospel of Luke elaborates even further on the tale: in it, we are told that the Centurion went to the Jewish Elders on behalf of his servant, who in turn – due to the soldier’s kindness and loyalty to their community – went to beseech Jesus on his behalf. Here we have two examples of intercession: the Centurion going in his servant’s place, and the Elders going in his. Because the simple truth is that we all, at one time or another, have been unable, unwilling, or too ignorant or confused to do what we needed to do, or what we were supposed to do. And praise God, I can safely say that most of us wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for those blessed few who didn’t hesitate to step forward in our place: who stepped up to pray for our salvation, our healing, our peace of mind, our wisdom, our discernment – or countless other problems that we fail to address in the only way that works…with prayer. Those who saw the need and went to the Lord on our behalf, in our stead, and out of love and concern for us. “I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men,” (I Tim. 2:1)

 

In this, too, we find our model of perfection in Jesus Christ, who sits even now at the right hand of God, making intercession for all of us, “Wherefore He is able to save then to the uttermost that come unto God by Him, seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for them,” (Heb. 7:25). We also find that His life, death, and Resurrection was, in itself, an intercession on our behalf – to go forward in our place and offer Himself as payment for our debts. It’s amazing how little in turn is expected of us: merely to go forward in prayer for each other is required, and still we manage to fall short of expectations. Today, we have to ask ourselves: are our prayers selfless or selfish? Do we beseech God in the name of those who need our prayers the most, or are we as self-absorbed as we ever were? We have a gift in the power of our prayers, as we are told time and time again: “ask, seek, knock,”…”where two or more come together,”…”ye have not because ye ask not,”…”whatsoever ye ask in My name,”…all these indications of the great power and authority that our prayers possess, and still we neglect to implement it. And, when we do, we “ask amiss”, as we are told in James, because we “consume it upon our lusts”. We fail to be selfless, and so we fail to be Christ-like. After all, where would be if He did not make intercession for us? Let’s all make sure to devote more of our time to praying for others. Maybe if we did more of that, and less whining about how they failed to live up to our expectations, we might be able to actually live up to His!

 

“Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.” – Romans 8:34

 

Be blessed,

Joshua

ACTS OF THE APOSTLES

“It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in His own power. But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto Me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judæa, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” Acts 1:7-8

 

In its own right, the Acts of the Apostles is indeed one of the most remarkable of all Biblical books – and I say this for several reasons. The most compelling of those reasons, though, is its pertinence to the lives of Christians today: it is a thorough, detailed record of the trials and tribulations of the early church, and of the men and women who stood, lived, and died for our Lord Jesus Christ. Why is that so relevant to a modern Christian’s walk with God? Because, while we all, from time to time, like to act like martyrs, these people actually were: they lived in perilous times when their faith was a death sentence, or worse – and the torturous cruelties many suffered actually made death a pleasant alternative. Now, while it is true that there are places like this in the world today – places where Christians are persecuted for their faith – I think that we would all have to admit that, for the most part, we live comfortable, privileged, and blessed lives that we take for granted. But, there is a very possible reality that, one day, we might be called upon to stand in their shoes – to face true persecution – as we live in a progressively darker and more sinful world.

 

And, that got me to thinking. I thought about the life stories that are recorded within the Book of Acts: of the faith, love, devotion, compassion, courage, and determination so prominently displayed by our earliest brethren. And then I thought: if you put today’s church in those same circumstances, how well would we fare? Would we conduct ourselves with that same grace – or, would we fall pitifully short? How would we react at losing our nice, comfy homes and having to rely on the charity of the kind-hearted to have a place to lay our head? How much fire, excitement, and conviction would we have if we had to travel penniless, worn, and beaten from town to town where you were then, for the most part, despised by the very people you were trying to help? How would we stomach being imprisoned for our faith? (And, take it from me – someone who has been incarcerated on account of pre-salvation stupidity and selfishness – it ain’t pleasant…and today’s jails would have probably been considered something akin to the Hilton during the turn of the 1st millennia.) How steadfast would we be if we were thrown into an arena for the sport of our fellow men and women, to be torn to pieces, mauled by wild animals? In short, if we woke up tomorrow in their world, in their places, how would the Acts of the Apostles read then? Would we, like Stephen, have rebuked the council for its faithlessness, even while knowing in our hearts that we were condemning ourselves to death? Would we have traveled the Mediterranean world thrice over in missionary journeys like Paul; only to endure being harassed, run out of town, beaten, imprisoned…and, yet still be relentless in our mission to bring increase to God’s glory and His kingdom?

 

It’s something to consider, I believe. And, also something to be grateful for: to recognize that, while our Church was ordained by God, it was built with the blood, sweat, and tears of His faithful – the first of our brothers and sisters. To understand the impact they had on that ancient world – a world that was cruel, distant and disconnected from itself, where life was cheap and change came slowly if it even came it all…this was the world they transformed with their faith – the world they changed with their fire, and with their love for our Savior! That should serve as an inspiration for us all: to teach us that, that no matter how big, or uncaring, or harsh this old world and its evils might seem…”Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world!” (I John 4:4)

 

Today, think about this: know that as we speak, act, and just live in general, that even the tiniest, most minute aspects of those lives are being documented. That every detail is being indelibly recorded either for, or against us – depending on our salvation or lack thereof. That, if your name is in the Lamb’s Book of Life, then in a very real way, you have your own section in an ongoing chronicle of the Acts of the Apostles: the Extended Version. Think how you want your story to read. And remember, that the audience for that story is none other than our Father who gave us life, and the Son who shed His blood to offer us the chance at an even better one. Who could we possibly want to impress more? So, let’s toughen up: let’s fuel that fire in our spirits, get our minds and our hearts where they ought to be; by setting our “affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God,” (Col. 3:2-3). Let’s be ready to serve Him in foul weather or fair, privileged or penniless; to live, love, and give as a Christian should, and to stand against the darkness of this world and to boldly speak His word. Let’s reconcile our Christianity – our faith – with the faith of those early men and women who, through God’s grace and victory, overcame so much with what seemed so little…and yet was, in truth, everything that mattered. Because it’s not changing or saving the world that is our mission: it’s to help change and save those in it. So, let’s take a few pages from the Acts of the Apostles….and act like the apostles!

 

“’And now Lord, behold their threatenings: and grant unto they servants that with all boldness they may speak Thy Word. By stretching forth Thine hand to heal; and that signs and wonders may be done by the name of Thy Holy Child Jesus’. And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the Word of God with boldness.” – Acts 4:29-31

 

Be blessed,

Joshua

 

LIVING IN TRUTH

 “…there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; and hid, that shall not be known.” – Matt. 10:26

 Jesus spoke these words to His disciples as He sent them forth out among the nation to teach, preach, and minister to the lost sheep of Israel. To give context tothe verse above, He was speaking of those who would most certainly persecute the disciples for belonging to Him, whom the religious authorities of the time condemned as a servant of Beelzebub, meaning the devil. He was assuring His disciples that, be that as it may, and though they might suffer for it, the truth of who they were and the Truth that they served would in the end be known to all. As with everything Jesus Christ said, this verse holds a timeless wisdom that cannot be denied; it holds true for all men and women of any time, nation, creed, or ethnicity. What we are, who we are, and more importantly, who we serve will be made known during the course of our days here in this world. If we serve God, that cannot help but be made known to all; His light shines too bright in the lives of those who love and work for Him. But the converse is true, too: if you serve the world, it will be made apparent no matter how much you pretend otherwise. You can lie to others – and you can even lie to yourself – but you cannot lie to God. You can talk the best game in the world, and pull the wool over the eyes of all those around you, but who you are in your heart will eventually be revealed – and, if not in this world, than certainly in the next.

“A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things.” (Matt. 10:35)


Because that’s where the truth of who we really are resides: our hearts. It’s deep inside, beneath the words and appearances. And that’s the beauty of God stepping into your life and changing it: He starts from within, and works His way out; He makes us over, totally and completely. There are no halfway measures or steps with Him, because he doesn’t need a halfway-clean, or halfway-renewed servant: He cleanses us and revives us thoroughly: “A new heart also I will give you, and a new Spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh.” (Ezek. 36:26) When we change through God’s grace, we should change completely – or we haven’t really changed at all. How deeply does His grace work in your life today? Is it only on the surface: scratch it, and it’s gone?


Because it’s when the scratching starts, when the pressure is truly on, that we find out who we really are: that’s when we find out just what kind of treasure our heart is holding. We can be full of the sweetest sayings and most loving words when
times are good; but turn up the heat and see what kind of things come boiling over the surface on the darker days:  “O generation of vipers, how can ye being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.” (Matt. 10:34) In short: what your heart is full of will come spilling over the surface no matter how much you try to hide it.

“Either make the tree good, and his fruit good; or else make the tree corrupt, and his fruit corrupt: for the tree is known by his fruit.” (Matt. 10:33) So we should ask the question: who are we really today? Are our hearts and the people we appear to be in alignment? Are we sitting in our church pews because that’s just what we are expected to do? Are we here because we really, truly desire to be? Or, are we here because we have an image to maintain, a standard to meet? Because if we are here to serve and praise God, then that is what we need to do! If we say we are Christians, than that is who we need to be! Our words, our hearts, and our actions have to start lining up better: because each should be guided by the Holy Spirit, and the Spirit isn’t going to have us thinking, acting, and feeling in three different directions! We need to live in truth – with ourselves, and with our God, who has promised a change so profound in our lives that we wouldn’t even be the same people after it was done. If that’s the case, than we need to be different! Because if we are not living in truth truth, then the lie of our existence will be revealed: that is promised by Christ Himself. If we are filthy within, we are filthy without – no matter how clean we might appear, it will be made known. Because we cannot truly serve Him if this is the case: we cannot serve clean water out of a dirty cup. We have to let Him come into our hearts and replace them so that we may start bearing that good fruit which springs from the abundance it finds there. Let our hearts reveal Christ; let our lives make the statement He made at the cross. For when we have His light inside our hearts, that light is revealed in every word and deed we might ever give or make; and it clearly shows the world that we are living in His Truth.


“Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill
cannot be hid.” – Matthew 5:14

Be blessed,

Joshua


THE HUMAN DISCIPLE

“And Jesus answered and said unto him, ‘Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it’.” – Matthew 16:13

 

You know, we read an awful lot about Peter throughout the New Testament: aside from Jesus Himself, we are probably not familiar with anyone so much as we are Peter and, of course, Paul. Why? You could say it was because of all the tales – particularly in the Gospels – that directly relate to him…and you’d be right. Personally, however, I think it is because – whether we understand it or not – we can so profoundly relate to him. Look at this man and his career as a disciple to Christ: he was undoubtedly wealthy to have owned his own fishing boat, and from scripture we can assume that he had more than one residence…and yet, he willingly gave it all up to follow the Lord. He was the first of the disciples to openly proclaim Jesus as the Christ, and then several verses later, was rebuked by the Lord for his worldly outlook. He was devoted and loyal to his Master, and yet fulfilled Christ’s prediction of denying the Lord three times. He served a Lord who proclaimed peace, and turning the other cheek – and, who had informed His disciples of what He must suffer to accomplish His mission in this world – and yet Peter cut off the ear of one of the soldiers that came to apprehend Him! He was understanding, compassionate, and wise – and yet, in Antioch, sometime after the crucifixion, Paul had to rebuke Peter due to his hypocrisy with the Gentiles. He was an impulsive man, who both spoke and acted before he thought: he is a man that is a study in contradictions, constantly wavering back and forth. These are flaws which the devil will always exploit: in Peter, and in ourselves.

 

Yet, lest we judge him too harshly, there is something we must first understand: that Peter is, in fact, representative of us, and the Church as a whole. He demonstrates the weakness of men when they live in the world; and, alternatively, their strength when they live in Christ. He shows us both sides of the coin, and gives us all a glimpse into the mirror: he forces us to look both at what we are, and what we can be when we really learn to rely only on God! I think of Peter’s experience with Christ out on the Sea of Galilee, and I can’t help but think how that one ordeal is a summary for his early relationship with the Lord: how he had the faith and the courage to step out of that boat onto the waves – something most of us could never have done – and yet faltered when he took his eyes off of Jesus. Why? Because he was still immature, still living with one foot in the world – something we all try for a while. Jesus reprimands him for his lack of faith in sinking – when stepping out the boat to start with is beyond most of us! If Peter isn’t living up to His standards here in this passage, then what does that say about how well the rest of us are doing?!

 

So, he stepped out, and then he sank. But, when you think about, isn’t that the way the devil works? With every victory, he tries to slip in and cause a defeat – to get our eyes off Christ and onto the world. And, how often do we allow him to succeed? Just like with Peter’s admission of Jesus as the Christ – as the Son of God: Jesus commends Peter, and tells him that ‘flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but thy Father which is in heaven’ (Matt. 16:13); because here, Peter has begun to grow in his spiritual maturity – as we all do when we listen and are obedient to the revealing Spirit of God. But then, several verses later, when Jesus is explaining to them the necessity of His foreshadowed persecution and death, Peter again speaks before he thinks, causing Christ to rebuke him: “Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offense unto Me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of the world,” (Matt. 16:23). Just because Peter is a disciple to Christ, the Son of the Living God, does not mean that he is without fault, or flaws. He, like any of us, continues to grow until the day he dies. He, like us, has to learn from the trials of his faith, and the tribulations that make him into more than he ever thought he could be.

 

It took Jesus’ death to really force Peter to grow closer to his Lord – because the same man who denied Christ was also the man who was present when the Holy Spirit first descended: who, because of his obedience, converted three-thousand people with his sermon – three-thousand souls added to the glory and kingdom of heaven. Why? Because Peter, I believe, through the trial of his faith, had finally understood what we all must understand if we are to ever really grow: that a person’s true strength comes not from his or her own heart, but from the Spirit of our God that lives within us. Like us, Peter’s prior weaknesses are results of living in the present world, and leaning on his own understanding, rather than God’s. It took a Risen Savior to show Simon Peter this truth – just like it takes a Risen Savior to show us the same. With God, our weaknesses are overcome, and we become vessels for His glory, and tools for His purpose. Like Peter, we can be transformed from mediocre believers into proactive, loving, discerning, and on-fire-for-Christ Saints of God. We can have our own Days of Pentecost, if we can but let that Spirit rule our lives, like Peter learned to let it rule his.

 

“That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ,” – I Peter 1:7

IN THE STILLNESS

“Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.” – Psalm 46:10

We live in a fast-paced age: an age of calendars, schedules, appointments, meetings, memos, and hurried notes that remind us of activities we somehow need to squeeze in to our already overflowing hours and days.  We leave voice-notes on our phones, Post-Its on our fridges, desks…even on the dashboards of our cars. There are never enough hours in the day to accomplish all the things we attempt to do. And yet, if we were to clear our calendars and schedules, cancel our appointments and meetings, and forgo all those things which seem so important in our daily lives…if we were to do away with all of it, and yet still managed to make time for God, then that day was not wasted. And, not only was it a day not wasted, but it was a day of gain: a day of increase and fulfillment. Because out of all our ‘needs’, there is only one which we cannot go without meeting: the need of an Almighty God in our lives. God is the appointment we should never miss, the meeting we should never forget, and the memo we should always remember to read. God is the one thing we shouldn’t need a reminder for; like our tithe money, the time we devout to Him should come right off the top: set aside and waiting to be offered up to Him.

“But seek ye first the Kingdom of God, and His righteousness,” (Matt. 6:34). And why first? Because that is the place God deserves to be in our lives: first. And yet, despite the fact that we all know this deep down in our hearts, we continually fall short of this command; we tend to get sidetracked at times, with our hearts seeking the things of this world first, and God in whichever order He happens to fall. Now, you might say ‘speak for yourself, there’…and, honestly, I am. But, I’m speaking for everybody else as well: if we all did as Christ commanded, than the church houses would be full every time the doors were open; people in the community would not go unwitnessed to or unvisited, our Bibles would not go unread, or our prayers said hurriedly or not at all. It’s just the truth; and the sooner we can accept that, the sooner we can go about remedying it.

“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.” (II Tim. 3:16-17). So many find so little harm in not diligently studying the Word of God; it’s nothing for many Christians to go days if not weeks without reading the scriptures on their own time. But, think of it this way: to go without the reading of God’s Word is to go without the spiritual Bread and Water of Life that sustains us: it would be much the same to go several days without feeding your spiritual body: you just can’t function properly. How are we expected to be strong, to be determined, to be able to endure, if we lack this diligence? Would we so starve our physical bodies? Of course not! How then, can we starve our spirits, which should, “As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the Word, that ye may grow thereby?” (I Peter 2:2) How can we see to walk in this dark world if we are not constantly vigilant to keep the light burning? “Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path,” (Psalm 119:105)

As Christians, we are nothing without the Word and the Spirit that sustains us: all that we are comes from the Lord, and we must seek Him out regularly to gain our strength, wisdom, and knowledge from Him. If we don’t seek these things, then we shall surely fall: we will not see increase, or abundance, or restoration, or victory if we don’t “Seek the Lord and His strength, seek His face continually,” (I Chron. 16:11).

So let us all make an effort to more diligently seek to spend time with our God; a God who has given so much to us, that the little He asks in return should make us ashamed that we so reluctantly give it. If we want to hear that ‘still, small voice”, then we must first make an effort to be still; to take those precious moment given to us and talk to our God – to seek Him, to know Him, to study and learn of Him…and to worship Him. We have to stop letting the noisy demands and confusions of this world distract us from the real reason – the real truth – of our existence here: to praise and serve our God in Heaven. The moments we give to Him are really His anyways; let’s stop hesitating so much on giving them back to Him.

“Glory ye in His holy Name: let the heart of them rejoice that seek the lord. Seek the Lord, and His strength: seek His face evermore. Remember His marvelous works that He hath done; His wonders, and the judgments of His mouth.” – Psalm 105:3-5

IN HIS LIKENESS

“Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” – Hebrews 12:2

 

We hear the term ‘Christ-like’ in regards to living a Christian life pretty frequently, all told; though it occurs to me that not everyone shares a universal definition of the phrase. To that end, I thought I’d take a few moments to examine my thoughts on the matter. So, what does it mean, to be ‘Christ-like’, do you think? Is it to live humbly, like He did? To live righteously, as He lived? Is it to stand for His word which we know to be true, and be willing to die as He died? I think it’s probably all of these things…and much, much more. But most important, I believe, is to share the love with which He loved the world. “A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” (John 13:34-35)

 

Love. To be ‘Christ-like’ is, above all things, the ability to unconditionally love those around you. To tolerate the intolerable, to forgive the unforgivable, to love the unlovable. This is the defining characteristic of a Christian: our capacity to love freely and indiscriminately. All other things flow from that one single ability…the ability to love. Paul tells us to “let love be without dissimulation” (Rom. 12:9); which is to say, without hypocrisy: to love all with the Godly love with which Christ gave so freely to all. I’ve said many times that, no matter where Jesus was, or what He was doing, or how busy He might have been, He never denied those who came to Him for aid. He never told them to come back later, or that He was in the middle of something, or that He didn’t have the time; no, Jesus dropped everything to help those who sought Him out, no matter the situation or consequences. How many of us can make that claim? We are told that the servant is not greater than his Master, and yet our Master Jesus Christ, the Son of God, would go the aid of all who asked – without hesitation! – while we, the servants, will not deign to do as much! So, if we would truly be ‘Christ-like’, then we must show the love of Christ to all! That co-worker you can’t stand, that rival you’ve not liked all your life, that no-good drug-addicted thief you despise…all are every bit as worthy of God’s love as you are! And, if we truly desire to be like Christ, then we must give it to them! “This is my commandment, that ye love one another as I have loved you.” (John 15:12). There is no justification, no rationalization, to not show God’s love to any and all. After all, one of His last acts in this world was to show His love by forgiving the thief on the cross next to Him.

 

When you look at the verse at the top, are we, too, “looking unto Jesus” as our guide and example? What was “the joy that was set before Him”, for which He endured the Cross? It was the love of the Father, perfected by the Son’s sacrifice: the ultimate love which expresses itself in the salvation we are offered, and the love with which we are expected to live with one another. So, today, let us all work just a little harder to show that love; let us strive to bear it close to our hearts, so that we might “rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.” (Rom. 12:15). Let our hearts be open, and receptive, and loving towards all those who share this life with us – ready to give whatever we might be able to give, as our Master and Savior was always prepared to do before us. If we would be Christ-like, than let us “abide in faith, hope, and love, these three,” for, “the greatest of these is love.” (I Cor. 13:13)

 

“For whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.” – Romans 8:29

Be blessed,

Joshua