In Christ we come face to face with God. Jesus is God revealed - not a shadow of God or a part of God but the very essence of the self existing 'I am' who created and sustains the universe. To be a Christian is to be involved in a life changing encounter with the Triune God.
The life of the Christian is linked to the life of God through Christ. I am not the person I would have been had I not encountered God in Christ [though of course it was God who reached down to me in sovereign grace]. I am not just talking about the benefits of Christ's death, which amaze me, but the transforming power of his life and Resurrection. To be a Christian is to be a changed person. I am far from perfect but everything I believe and everything I do has Christ as its reference point. God will not leave me be. His life invades every part of my being – my hopes, my beliefs, my ambitions and my actions.
God not only transforms individuals but He transforms relationships. I can no longer ignore other people or dismiss their needs, for God has reminded me that I am part of His creation and part of His people. I do not stand alone, autonomous. I am under God and part of something bigger than myself. That means I must strive to apply NT principles in every circumstance.
I Corinthians 13
4Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Not that it is easy to ruthlessly apply the standards of Christ. MLJ used to talk about Christians living a 'D Day' life [sorry, I teach history]. As soon as the Allies had established the beach heads in France the war was effectively won - the enemy would fight ferociously, like a cornered animal, but the Victory celebrations were just around the corner.
I have hope. Even if I fail - Christ is always my standard. Perhaps I am naïve, but if I settle for less - in my personal life, my home life, my work, my church, my bloging - then I have surrendered and stopped thinking and acting as a Christian. There are no exceptions or get out clauses.
God is the Transformer. He changes people, relationships, institutions and cultures. A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away I studied Moral Philosophy. One of the first lectures focused on ‘the moral ought’ or the ‘is/ought’ fallacy. It is always wrong to argue from the way things are to the way they ought to be. Because something is the case doesn’t mean it ought to be the case. Christians are a people of the moral ought. They are always putting ‘is’ under the moral spotlight. Or perhaps it is better to say that God puts our ‘is’ – the way we live, think and act – under the spotlight of His holiness. It is no excuse to say that ‘this is simply the way things are’ or ‘this is the way I am’. The Christian always asks if it is the way it ought to be – if I am the person I ought to be.
I have met God and He has changed me forever. Thank God. I am by nature selfish, amoral, sarcastic, angry, though I can sometimes be kind or patient. Grace has changed me from the inside so that the voice I hear first now urges me to follow the example and teachings of my Lord though I can sometimes be selfish, amoral, sarcastic and angry. I still have a fight on my hands but the outcome was decided before the world was formed when the Sovereign God determined to redeem me.
Don’t believe the enemies propaganda. They can pass laws, attack the gospel and mount advertisement campaigns. But they cannot win the war.
Therefore, [in the words of Dylan] ‘I'm pressing on -To the higher calling of my lord.’