Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Seeing Him as He is

This post will be somewhat related to my previous post on being a faithful and true witness. Where that post was related to speaking though, this post will relate to being and doing.

First John 3:2 says, "Beloved, we are God's children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is." This verse tells us that in the end we will be like Christ, because the sight of Him in His totality will transform us to be like Him. Thus we could say that to the degree we see Christ as He is to that same degree we will be like Him. It is impossible for us to emulate something we have never seen, or to manifest a virtue we unless we have an idea of how that virtue would look in a given situation. This is one reason why we often fall short of our calling as Christians, sometimes we know what we should do and don't do it, but many times even when we want to follow Christ and be like Him, we miss it because our idea of Christ falls far short of what He really is like. Often we tolerate and even condone all sorts of little things that are not Christlike, and accept it as the norm.


This why discipleship is important, so that younger believers can see what Christianity really looks like. There are a few instances I remember of people I know reacting with grace in trying situations and as I saw it I knew I was seeing "The Way." I was seeing Christ in that person living His life through them in that situation. It gave me something to strive for. Sometimes, though, we can be in a situation where we do not have someone to emulate in our vision. It could be that we are the ones that are to disciple others, and yet we realize that we know so little ourselves.


Thankfully even without a human role-model we still have the God's Word. Scripture and especially the Gospels show us so much of Christ that if we properly study and apply it, we will become more and more like Christ. In the Gospels we see Jesus in all sorts of situations which can be applied to our lives if we are willing to make the effort.


Another way we see Christ is through our direct encounters with Him in His presence. We can learn a lot from these. It was in personal times of worship that I was first struck by the graciousness of God and how He is so humble that we often do not realize how much He humbles Himself to be around us, and sometimes we even take Him for granted. To me that graciousness became a goal to aspire toward. Other times I have had the Lord give me kind words in spite of my bad attitudes at the time, and learned how kindness can sometimes cut far deeper than a sever rebuke ever could. When God reveals Himself to us it is not just that we should know it, but that we might become it.


There were two apostles specifically that I think saw attributes of Christ and then manifested them. The first one was John, who was the apostle of love because he was first the apostle that Jesus loved. It was as he received of this love and saw its workings in his own life that he was able to give it out to others. The second apostle was Paul who in 1 Timothy 1:16 refers to himself as a pattern of longsuffering. Paul manifested the longsuffering of God throughout his many shipwrecks, beatings and other trials, but first he had been a recipient of the longsuffering of God who had waited for the right moment to appear to him on the Damascus road as he was persecuting the believers. It was likely Paul's own realization of all that Christ had borne with in him that enabled him to bear so much himself.


May God grant each of us a greater realization of Himself that we may be it to others! Amen.


Friday, December 03, 2010

The Faithful and True Witness

And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: "The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God's creation..." (Rev. 3:14).


A while ago, I wrote on how it was interesting how when Christ addressed the seven churches in Revelation that the title He chose for Himself showed Him to be what was needed in each specific situation. I was going to post a link to that post here, but I am unable to find it myself. In this post, I would specifically like to look at the title Christ gave Himself when addressing Laodicea. To the blind and naked church which felt it had need of nothing, because of its material prosperity He addressed Himself as the Amen and faithful and true witness. In other words what He said was true reality which the church needed to hear and align itself with. The Laodicean church had deceived itself and had doubtless had teachers with itching ears who had told them what they wanted to hear, but Christ was the Amen, the So-be-it, whose word was final, and the faithful and true witness who would tell what was needful regardless of what they wanted to hear. Not only in regard to this church but in His earthly ministry and even as He relates to us in our lives Christ is the faithful and true witness. He told Pilate that the reason He was born was to bear witness to the truth, and He desires to also form us into faithful and true witnesses. To better prepare us to be faithful and true witnesses we should examine what is required to be a witness.


Firstly, we have to see something to be a witness. I realize that is very basic, but sometimes we can forget that to bear witness we have to have witnessed something first. Christ could bear witness to the Father because He saw Him and knew Him (Matt. 11:27). Christ could also judge situations and people rightly as Isaiah prophesied because He did not rely on His own sight and understanding (Isa. 11:3-4).


What we see is very important, and it is very much effected by what is in our hearts. The heart is the window through which we interpret what we see, this is why even though the twelve spies sent into Canaan all saw the same things, they still saw different things – ten had evil hearts of unbelief and two had hearts of faith. It is also interesting to note that the evil report given by the ten spies was not exactly false, it was basically factually accurate, but had a perspective of no faith in the power of God to overcome the giants (Num. 13:25-33). Having God's perspective is very important or we could state facts, and yet still bear a false witness.


Another example of this is Moses' tirade against the children of Israel, which kept him out of the Promised Land. It was very understandable, frankly, very deserved, but when struck the rock instead of speaking to it, he failed to bear witness to type God was bringing out, and in calling the rebellious people, "rebels" he forgot temporarily that they were also the called ones of God in spite of their wayward character. It would be hard to imagine as vexing a situation as Moses was in, but I think the apostle Paul shows a right response to similar situation in his Corinthian epistles. When he was faced with carnal bickering believers who questioned his authority challenged his leadership and allowed blatant sin in their midst, he still began his epistles by addressing them as saints - considering their greatly unsaintly conduct at the time that must have required grace on his part. Then having reminded them of who they were he proceeded to truthfully point out their faults and bring correction. Moses in losing his temper lost balance of perspective, Paul managed to see both the faults and also remember the good and the call given to these wayward Corinthians. In the letters to the seven churches, Christ not only addresses faults but also gives whatever commendation He could, as humans we tend to go to extremes, and see only people's faults or their good qualities at a given time, but Christ is able to weigh all at once, and we need to learn more balance in what we see.


Having seen something we then need to be faithful to share it at appropriate times. Christ did not indiscriminately spout off everything, but specifically taught in parables, and through much of His trial remained quiet. It was only when an oath by the High Priest forced Him to bear witness or be guilty of withholding truth that He plainly claimed to be the Son of God. The man born blind in John chapter 9 is another good example of a faithful witness, and interestingly enough right after he bore witness and was cast out of the synagogue Christ came looking for him. He found him and revealed Himself as the Son of God to him and received worship from him – a very rare privilege this man had to worship the pre-resurrection Jesus. This was given to him because he was faithful to witness what he knew and had seen and God trusted him with greater knowledge because of that. May we also bear witness faithfully that we might be found worthy to bear greater witness and please our Lord! Amen.