There is a deficit; something has changed between then and now. But it isn’t the Gospel, that’s for sure, nor the Lord Himself.
I ask myself these questions and so many more. I want to be an effective Christian and I know in myself I am not. As I sat and pondered these things early one morning, with the house quiet and still and an open Bible on my lap, The Lord brought this verse came to my mind.
“Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life:
and they are they which testify of me…
How can ye believe, which receive honour one of another,
and seek not the honour that cometh from God only?”John 5:39, 44
This was me. Seeking honor from others and not from God. But above that was a command which I had passed over: Search the Scriptures…
I read my Bible for many reasons and in the Scriptures I find validation for why I do what I do – just like the Pharisees. Here Jesus is pointing at a very important reason for searching the Scriptures, “They are they which testify of me…”
Why did the apostles pen the Gospels and the Prophets write the Old Testament? Why were the early Christians ready to die for their faith? Not because of a mode of religion, not because they were looking to impress their Pastor, and certainly not to preserve their right to sit in church and listen to sermons. It was because of Jesus Christ. The Bible is the story of Jesus.
Do I want to be inspired? Consider Christ.
I can look at Jesus as He goes out of his way for a promiscuous Samaritan. I’ll watch as He defends a woman from the scorners as she kneels before Him washing his feet with her hair. She knew Him. If I knew Him like she did, like He wants me to know Him, would I not be bathing his feet with tears of thankfulness as well? I must remove this image of a god who is just waiting for me to slip up, to make a mistake so He can slam me with trials.
I’ll watch Him as he welcomes the children around Him and take comfort that this same Jesus is yearning over and welcoming children today. I can watch Him as He weeps over the crowds with compassion, or as He prays for me in the Garden of Gethsemane and in the midst of His passion forgives those who torment Him. “Father, forgive them: for they know not what they do.”
I’ll watch Him as He lives out in those last hours what He taught His disciples through His life.
This made such an impact in the lives of early Christians that their contemporaries marveled at their love. This was their testament of a changed life. This love for one another and this example of love, Jesus Christ, must be my example.
I must look to Him for my conduct, for my approval, for my thoughts.
The Holy Spirit within me points to Jesus Christ with every step I take.
Oh, what grief I must have caused Him to have ignorantly fought for His approval with the mindset that Jesus must be only what I think to be true of Him – an image of my own creation. I neglected to search Him out and apply only His person to my life.
When I did, what love He inspired! And how easy it becomes to show that love to others. Instead of criticizing the lost people around me, I must seek to serve them with my life and with the Gospel. Let this mind be in me which was also in Christ Jesus! Defer. Prefer them to myself. At the stop sign, let them go first. When driving, don’t let my attitude towards their driving ruin my testimony before I step out of the car. When I see a need, meet it. That young mother with screaming children behind me in line at the grocery store, let her go first, don’t just stand there and criticize. Let care and sympathy shine in my eyes. Jesus Christ did for me! He saw my need from heaven and came; I can at least walk across the street to my neighbor.
This yields such fruit! That tract I hand them will matter. When I share how Jesus changed my life, they will want it because they see it in action! Not only that but the Gospel seems natural. I see the joy springing in my own life and my gratefulness to Jesus Christ grows with each step. I can’t help but want to share it. He is the key. The Head of the corner. Without Him my Christian life will have no foundation or inspiration.
It has been two weeks since I have realized my great need for this change. It is hard to throw down self and put on Jesus Christ each day. I fail sometimes but the results when I am in Christ are undeniable. It gives me hope! He is making me over in Christ’s image and for the first time, I understand it. I am agreeing with His Spirit in me.
There is such comfort in Him Spirit. Even in my failure I see application of His character that points me to His great sacrifice and love. Use failure as fuel, not as discouragement, understanding that for all of the failure and sin He saw in me from the foundation of the world, He still came. He sought me out and rescued me. With what care He brought all the moments of my life together. With such love He allowed pain and heartache to help me understand. With such mercy He gave me a family that I treasure and childhood memories that pointed me to His goodness. It is with this goodness that He brought me to repentance.
I wish I could always see Him like this! When I do, I long to be like Him. And one day, this wish will most certainly be granted.
“Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.”1 John 3:1-3