Monday, September 13, 2010

Transforming Into The Character of Jesus

This morning as I was preparing for my bible study on how to have transformed speech, I stumbled on, or maybe I should say, I was showed by God some truth I'd like to share.

So often we say we want to be like Jesus. We want to be formed into his likeness as the bible tells us we are to strive for. Well. I know that I say this often. Maybe I am not alone on this quest and you want this also. But how do we get there?

I have high and lofty ideas of doing great things in the Kingdom of God. I'll save a hundred souls for Jesus. Maybe I'll feed thousands of starving children or create a huge mission that shelters a whole community. OR I'll write a best seller that comforts millions and a bible study that teaches the multitude about the ways of Christ. I will...... I will.....

In reality, I will DO nothing. It is he that is in me that will do the good works. The good works he planned for me to do even before I was born.

I believe the mistake I make, along with many others, is believing that "doing" is the answer to becoming closer to the image of Jesus. I so often think that I can show everyone who Jesus is by the big things I could do if He would only let me.

Doing is not the answer. Instead, the answer is in "being" like him. Everyday. In every encounter with another person. In all circumstances. Transforming our reactions, behaviors, thoughts, and beliefs to respond the way Christ would in all circumstances. Our character is to be in the process of being molded to reflect Jesus' character.

John 1:14 says - The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

Jesus, like the Father has two very important attributes that we would go a long way if we paid high attention to acquiring them. Those two attributes are grace and truth.

John tells us that Jesus, the One and Only, was (and still is) full of grace and truth. It is foundational to who Jesus is. As well, it should be foundational to who we are. If we are to be a true image bearer of Jesus Christ it is critical that our foundation reflect the characteristics of the original.

Being full of grace and truth........ How do we put these attributes at the foundation of who we are?

You can't be "filled" with the truth if you aren't "in" the truth. In other words, we have to fill ourselves with the "truth" of God which is in His word. It needs to be filling us up, changing our behaviors, making us into different creatures. Renewing us daily, changing our thoughts from evil to good. Making our thoughts and behaviors reflect Him. That is what comes from saturating ourselves in the word of God.

We can not reflect what we do not know. If we are not reading, studying and learning the word of God it can not be in us and fill us with truth. Therefore, truth will not be our foundation and we will not live it out in our daily lives. Instead, our human nature will seep out of us and inspire us to sin.

Truth. It's foundational. It teaches us to care with honest and transparent hearts. It shows others who we are. It shows our flawed true self that can not redeem or save itself. The truth that without Jesus, we are sinful at the core.

Sinful and self serving. That is "our" truth, self serving and flawed. But.... given a new life and truth by Jesus who lives within us. And if we want that to shine through, we must make His truth become a foundational part of who we are.

And then..... we live in His grace. Also as a foundation to who we are.

Grace, unmerited love and favor on the part of God. We didn't deserve it. We can't earn it. It is given freely because of His goodness. It is all about how good He is even when we don't deserve it.

Living in grace is a different calling then being saved by grace. We are saved by grace ONCE. Jesus died one time for all. You and I, we accepted his grace once and were given the free gift of salvation.

Living in grace is much different. It's daily, hourly, sometimes even minute by minute. "God of all grace" is one of God's names (1 Peter 5:10). He is the source and giver of all grace. His grace paid our debt and gave us salvation. It lavishes blessing on us and promises unimaginable favor. Favor that we have the privilege of living in and extending to others.

We can not extend our own grace, we instead must extend the grace we have been given by God. The favor God has shown towards us enables us to show the same to others. Instead of keeping track when others fail and hurt us. Or paying them back with the same, we can extend unmerited favor just as God does.

Each time we encounter a trial of an interpersonal nature we have the opportunity to either react as Jesus would or as Satan would. We can either repay evil with good or evil with evil. It is our choice in that moment. Will we walk the path of grace or the path of retribution?

Jesus was "full of grace", allowing a sinner like me to come into His completely holy kingdom. If I want to be transformed into the character of Jesus I have to look on others with the eyes that look back at myself. I have to see my own sin and failure when others fail and hurt me. I have to see their sin, knowing that I too do such things. I too speak things I should not and hurt others. I too say and do things that inflict pain or cause others to be injured. I am no better, I am only a sinner. A sinner under the grace given by God. A grace given to me so I can turn and pass it on to another.

Truth and grace.... a foundation made up of love and humility. It is the foundation I want. The foundation I believe we all need to live our lives out of.

3 comments:

richies said...

Thanks for these great thoughts. So many Christians are caught up in the doing, but show no grace to others. I want to "be" like Jesus so he can work through me.

An Arkies Musings

ROBERT LLOYD RUSSELL said...

Great truth!
Very meaningful post!
Thank you.

Sherri Watt said...

Thank you both for your comments. Grace is always easier to talk about than it is to live by. Praying I can place it as a foundation in my life.

God Bless!