Spending time with Christ enviably changes us. By studying His Word, the Bible, we get to know Him. As we get to know Him, we are no longer left to our own wisdom, but now are measuring our attitudes and behavior to His standard.
Now this might seem overwhelming, considering that His standard is perfection. Indeed, God is calling us, to live Under His Shadow, to be a representation of Him in every moment…every encounter. We must not live self absorbed, but instead be willing to become Christ in the flesh, holy as He is holy.
Now we must live up to this completely different standard. The bar is raised and the vain life we reviled in prior to knowing Him is no longer an option. Now we are expected to, “Put on… compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” – Colossians 3:12-16
“This is too lofty”, you exclaim!
But no! The beauty of God’s plan is that God imparts His likeness to us. All we do is adjust our gaze. Instead of focusing on ourselves, we focus on God. We are not expected to change ourselves, He does the work within us as we spend time close to Him.
What a glorious gift He has given us!
God’s word says…We must be holy. (1 Peter 1:15)
It would seem there is a contradiction. For on one hand He says, “Be Holy as I am Holy,” (Lev. 11:44) and on the other hand the Word says, “None is holy but The Lord.” (1 Samuel 2:2) Hence one might ask, “Is holiness a possible or impossible standard to obtain?”
Common sense tells us that in ourselves it is impossible to be holy. It is the standard of perfection to which none of us can achieve. But fortunately God in His goodness, conceived a plan. He chose to impart His holiness to us. This is known as the process of sanctification. Understanding that when we accept Jesus as Christ, His holiness is a work that He will do within us. (Hebrews 10:10) And we can have confidence that he will complete this work. (Phil 1:6)
The book of James says, draw near to God and He will draw near to you. As we spend time in close proximity to Christ, we can’t help but be changed into the likeness of Him.
Living Under God’s Shadow requires a higher standard than before we lived under his covering. Before we knew Christ- we were left to our own wisdom. We decided what was right and what was wrong. We determined what was fair, chose how to treat people, and rationalized our behavior based on feelings, or our selfish desires. Unfortunately the only outcome for this self centered living was predicted long ago in 2 Timothy 3:1-5
“…understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy,
heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power.” The chapter goes on to warn us to avoid such people!
Once we know Jesus, once we live Under His Shadow we no longer have an excuse for such narcissistic behavior. We are called to a higher standard…..
I have heard it said, “faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. – James 2:17-18
There are many Christians who talk about faith in God. Their words are many, but their actions do not support their oration. There are others who’s faith is lived out silently…expressed in mundane moments and unexpected ways.
There is little value to live life as a “Peddler of God’s Word”, all talk and no action. Instead be the fragrance of Christ as you live an active life of faith characterized by few words.
“But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life. Who is sufficient for these things?For we are not, like so many, peddlers of God’s word, but as men of sincerity, as commissioned by God, in the sight of God we speak in Christ.” – 2 Corinthians 2:14-17