The Life of Christ
For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. – 2 Cor. 5:21
But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. – Rom 5:8
Now that the Christmas season is about to be upon us again, I am pondering not just the birth of our Savior, but His life. Much is made of His birth and His death/resurrection and rightfully so, but there has been something pressing on me for a while about the life of Christ.
Have you ever thought about the fact that He came for a singular purpose…to die on a cross for us. Not only did He come to die an agonizing death for our benefit, but He had to first live a sinless life to even make the sacrifice count. Have you ever thought about how weighty that really is? To live a sinless, perfect life, devoid of pride, forsaking any will other than the will of the Father, all the time knowing that the cross awaits. Remember that Jesus lived many years before His ministry started. Other than His birth and a couple of early incidents, the Bible only records about the last three years of his life. He lived for over 3 decades…sinless.
We know that the path was stressful, the kind of stress that I cannot really wrap my mind around. It was stressful enough that He was sweating blood in the Garden of Gethsemane in Luke 22. He asked that the Father change His will and take the cup, but God the Father obviously told Him that there was no other way. So, Jesus put aside any of His own interests and pursued the path given Him. He was then led to the cross to die for us who were enemies of God at the time. All the while, fully knowing of the excruciating death that was in store for Him. Bearing the sin of the world and suffering the separation from God that everyone except Jesus deserves. All of this was made possible by the Life of Christ in perfect obedience to the Father.
Have you ever, even once, believed that you knew what God wanted you to do, but failed to do it for whatever reason? I have, and more than just once. This simple act of disobedience just one time would have disqualified Jesus from being our sacrifice and our separation from God would have endured.
Today, may we honor not only the sacrificial death of Christ, but His sacrificial life as well.
“Delight yourself in the LORD; And He will give you the desires of your heart.”
Have you stopped long enough to realize that as we get ourselves in the right frame of mind with God that we see things differently than others? Even simple things become clearer in their purpose. As I’m out camping with my family, looking up at the stars in heaven it’s even more clear and more powerful remembering God's promise to Abraham that his descendants would be more numerous than the stars in heaven. And in the morning, as I have coffee alone outside waiting on the sunrise, I just see, smell and hear God’s glory all around me. As I prepare to walk the fields with my son, God will be with us; father and son, shooting and talking and having a day of fun. God is so good! And it’s so much better each day knowing God is with me and has a purpose for me to share in his kingdom and to invite others to learn and live for his purpose. I hope you feel the same way.
Why do we stress about the future as if the present has no purpose and bears no value? The consequences of our present choices help to determine the outcome of our individual futures. Yet, how often do we neglect to factor in long term consequences and instead focus on immediate gratification? Too often we choose to follow our shoddy desires instead of the indefectible will of God. In doing so, we advertise how shallow we are in faith and flaunt the depths of our rebellious hearts. We need to understand and accept that often times, we create that stress by trusting in our imperfect will to provide us with a perfect outcome. That's like trusting in gasoline to put out a fire. We have the one living God willfully giving us perfect directions to accomplish His perfect will, but one must earnestly and humbly seek Him and be patient. Who makes more sense to trust? The one who can't control the rebellious thoughts that enter their own mind, or God who created the universe that surrounds the planet, that provides the air, that gives life to the body, and in which that rebellious mind resides. Remember, we only see the past as fact, but God sees the fact in the future. Trust in God's will, allow him to direct you in the present, even when it doesn't make sense. How God took me from where I was to where I am now, no human can make sense of, but God knew what He was doing. Make a habit of following God's will in the present so that your faith doesn't rely on the outcome of your choices, but is rooted in your submissiveness to God's perfect will.
* Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.*
Philippians 4:6-7 NASB
You will always have some stress but more importantly, as a Christian, you also always have the peace and hope of God, which is far more powerful than a self-created emotion.
You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain. - Exodus 20:7
Vain – 1) having or showing undue or excessive pride in one’s appearance or achievements; 2) marked by futility or ineffectualness: unsuccessful, useless; 3) having no real value: idle, worthless – Merriam-Webster
Have you ever wondered what this commandment really means? When I was a child, I was told that it was about vocabulary. It was a warning against the “GD” and “JC” exclamations all too familiar to us from various movies. Certainly, these (as well as many others) are vile and repulsive to our God, but I think the command goes much deeper than a mere vocal expression and really ties in to the crux of the FLOW series we are doing here at the church.
So that the rest of mankind may seek the Lord,
Even all the Gentiles who are called by My name,
Says the Lord who does all these things. - Acts 15:17
Did you catch that? Those of us who are in Christ are called by His name and therefore have “taken” his name. This commandment may well be a warning not to take His name and then do nothing with it. It is so easy to fall into an inward focus, concerning ourselves primarily with “Godly behavior” and refining our thought life. These are worthy efforts, but is that all there is? Is my salvation only for me? Does this commandment require us to be effective to the world with our salvation? This commandment may just be one of the most difficult to keep as there seems to be a call to action, not just meditation.
Jesus (quoting Isaiah) spoke of it in Matthew 15:8-9
‘These people draw near to Me with their mouth,
And honor Me with their lips,
But their heart is far from Me.
And in vain they worship Me,
Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.
Today, my brothers and sisters, may we seek the mind of Christ so that we may glorify Him in our lives and not fear that we have taken His name in vain.
Having a humble heart and serving others is essential for one to be a faithful follower of Christ. We are all called to have the heart of a servant while at the same time being joyful of our adoption into God's family. In Mark 10:45, Yeshua(Jesus) says, "For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many." Yeshua, Himself never required others to serve him, He requested the obedience of others, don't ignore that key word, "requested." God's love for us is such that we have the free-will to choose that obedience, He doesnt force us to love Him, He wants us to choose to love Him. It is through that love for Him, that we should choose to be obedient and follow Him.
Throughout scripture we see Jesus consistantly serving others by showing love to the unloved, feeding the hungry, serving the servants, and seeking the lost, How much more should we, His followers, follow His example? How hard is it for all of us to be less selfish with our time and be faithful to the title of christian that we claim. The word "christian" or "christianos" in Greek, means a follower of Christ. But to claim such a title while living a lifestyle that contradicts that claim, is like claiming to be a police officer while living like a theif. I can claim to be whatever i want, but the reality of my actions ultimately speak to who i am. Serve others with a humble heart. Let your actions expound the love of God to those you come in contact with. This is by no means me throwing any stones, I know I have a lot I have to work on to be where God wants me, you will never hear me claim otherwise. But the only way any of us will get closer to living out Christ's example, is aknowledging our shortcomings, repenting, and relying on God's strength to empower our obedience.