…Or how to be Christ-like. In today’s world we seem to idolize those pop-star preachers who motivate people, draw large crowds to their services yet if you analyze their words, you would be hard pressed to find real spiritual food among them. Such people remind me of the parable in Matthew 13
That day Jesus went out of the house and was sitting by the sea. 2 And [a]large crowds gathered to Him, so He got into a boat and sat down, and the whole crowd was standing on the beach.
3 And He spoke many things to them in parables, saying, “Behold, the sower went out to sow; 4 and as he sowed, some seeds fell beside the road, and the birds came and ate them up. 5 Others fell on the rocky places, where they did not have much soil; and immediately they sprang up, because they had no depth of soil. 6 But when the sun had risen, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away. 7 Others fell [b]among the thorns, and the thorns came up and choked them out. 8 And others fell on the good soil and *yielded a crop, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty. 9 He who has ears, [c]let him hear.” (NASB)
Many believers today may not grasp what Jesus is talking about in this passage so, with God’s permission, I decided to use a quote from the late Orson Welles who spoke in praise of the late movie star Jimmy Stewart many years ago:
The movie industry, sometimes it is called a jungle, I think it is a forest. A forest which is made up of a million different plants and trees and shrubs. And some of these plants have a brief day in the sun, they flower quickly but they can’t seem to sustain, so they wither away. Hollywood has seen a lot of these, but a career like yours Jimmy is an evergreen. Rain or shine it keeps growing because it has a kind of duty and purpose that will never die. That is something we have always seen in you, something that will be here when all the fads and fancies will be long gone. As an image Jimmy Stewart is indelible as an actor… I am the only actor on this podium who has not imitated you for I feel that id the only thing we can do. (Orson Welles, The Dean Martin Celebrity Roasts, 1978, about the 1:20:00 mark https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H5CjyVtaCqE )
I liked those words for they bring to light a very good metaphor for this passage quoted above these words. We can insert key biblical terms in Mr. Welle’s quote to illustrate what Jesus was talking about in his parable of the sower. Let’s do that at those key points
The Christian faith, sometimes it is called a jungle, I think it is a forest
I place the words ‘Christian faith’ before jungle because many churches and denominations are well known to kill their wounded much like a jungle atmosphere but we can turn it into a forest for so many people escape that destruction by saying the right words yet inside they are as rocky and thorny as the ground Jesus spoke of.
And some of these Christians have a brief day in the sun, they flower quickly yet cannot sustain, so they wither away.
We do see this a lot in the church today and we saw it a lot in the early 70s and 80s when it became vogue for celebrities to claim that they were Christian. They rose to Christian fame right away but after a few years they were gone because their seed was not sown in the right ground. The word of God was overcome by the temptations of the world and the sinful desires rose again as the person did not receive the spiritual care he or she needed to continue to mature in Christ.
A Christian life like yours true believer is an evergreen. Rain or shine it keeps growing because it has a duty or purpose that will never die.
We have witnessed this in many Christian lives, both famous and not. No matter what happens to them they continue to follow Christ, cast the light of God’s truth upon the world and inspire many to soldier on when they feel like giving up. The true believer stands tall bending at times but not breaking, sharing the truth in wisdom, love, bringing justice with the right mix of mercy and compassion regardless of what the secular world desires.
That is something we have always seen in the true believer, something that will always be here when all the fads and fancies will be long gone.
The true believer always brings sound doctrine, the truth, unaltered so that those who demand appeasement can be rebuked for their sinful desires and brought back to the straight and narrow with the attitude of Jesus looking for that 1 sheep, who lost its way as it traveled home to safety. The true believer doe snot jump on the bandwagon of fads and fancies like abstinence rings or wwjd and so on but sticks to the teaching of the Bible correctly.
Jesus Christ is indelible…imitated..for that is all we can do
Yes Jesus leaves marks that cannot be removed and everyone can see the true conversion to the savior. And to be that spiritual evergreen tree we need to imitate or follow Christ. Paul said in 1 Cor. 11:1
Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ. (NASB)
Which is basically what the word ‘Christian’ means. That word’s definition is ‘like Christ’ so if we want to be a tall Christian then we must be like Christ. How do we imitate Christ in our lives so that we can achieve that objective? Let’s look at a key verse which gives us the right starting point.
10 Immediately coming up out of the water, He saw the heavens [a]opening, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon Him; (MK. 1 NASB)
Jesus waited for the power of the HS to begin his ministry, so must we. I am not going to get into a discussion on whether Jesus voided himself of his identity and divine nature or not for that is not the lesson Christ came to teach. He set the example for us in what to do as a follower of him and he did so at the very start of his public ministry.
If we want to achieve being like Christ then we need to have the HS descend upon us and provide us with the real empowerment. We follow Christ’s example honestly, sincerely, humbly and begin where he began. We follow the HS to the truth and how to implement that truth in our lives forsaking those teachings that water down the Bible’s impact and message, replacing them with what the HS teaches us and go on from there as God leads.
We do so, taking one day at a time, ever learning, implementing , growing, maturing until we are like that large evergreen, able to withstand anything that evil throws our way. We may bend a little but we will not break because our faith is ground in good ground and it has been allowed to take root and grow correctly. In the Christian faith, as we grow in our beliefs, the question is not ‘what would Jesus do?’ but ‘What did Jesus do.’
We do not need to question how we should act for Jesus taught us the right way to go, we just need to be reminded of what Jesus did in his life that he left as an example for us to follow. We have not just the woman at the well expose type ministry but the humble, merciful yet stern woman caught in adultery lesson where we do not condemn but couple mercy with a warning so that those caught in sin can repent and get back on track.
We are not out to ruin lives, but to resurrect them with the help of Christ. Being Christ-like is not an excuse to brow beat people into submission but to correctly set the example of how the church is to act not only when it is confronted with sin, or those who wish to import sin into the church, but how to bring God’s grace, love, mercy , compassion to a lost world.
Let’s ask Christ to clear our thorny and rocky ground and let the HS lead us to be that spiritual evergreen tree, so that the world will know that Christ lives, God exists and that they have a real option out of their messy lives.