Illustration results for christ likeness
CHRIST IS THE WIND, CHRISTIANITY IS THE SAIL
Does the practice of our religion reflect the God we serve?
In Shane Hipps' book, "Selling Water by the River: A Book about the Life Jesus Promised and the Religion that Gets in the Way," he uses an analogy from sailing to express what has happened in the church over the past generations. He says (I quote loosely),
One thing that might ease our anxiety is to remember that Christ and Christianity are not the same thing; If Christ is the wind, then Christianity is the sail. Some sails are better than others at catching the wind, some sailors are better at using the sail, but there is always and only one wind. A sail without the wind is a limp flag; wind without a sail is still the wind. The relationship is only one way.
The wind (Christ) is the pre-existent creative power of the universe with no birthday or death date. The sail (Christianity) on the other hand is an institution built with the intention of harnessing that power. If the institution goes away, the power remains. Put simply, Christ is much, much bigger than our religion.
Listen to me, just because my religion bears his name doesn't always mean it bears His likeness. Such misconception is a dangerous, even an arrogant illusion. If we buy into this assumption, we become like the sail who believes it controls the wind.
COMMUNION IN YOUR ‘CIVVIES’
Janet Daley writes in the UK Telegraph about a “movement among Church of England clergy in favour of going into civvies.” One of the things that the Church of England Synod is debating is the agitation some are having for dress-down Sundays, which would allow the vicar to take Communion in his shirt sleeves.
Doing away with ‘intimidating’ vestments the church hopes will be part of an accessibility outreach campaign in which priests could look more like ordinary people. Like schoolteachers who wear jeans instead of suits in the classroom, they want to demystify their own authority - to, as they say, ‘break down barriers’.
Almost 2000 years ago, another campaign to identify with common man—“to break down barriers”-- began.
“…Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.”
SOURCE: SermonCentral Staff. Citation: Janet Daley, “In tragedy and in joy, an unchanged church is best.” 10/07/2002. http://www.opinion.telegraph.co.uk/opinion/main.jhtml?xml=/ opinion/2002/07/10/do1002.xml
Some time ago I was reading about the 18th century German sculptor Johann Heinrich von Dannecker. His skills were impressive. He could bring stone to life with his tools. At the height of his powers, he wanted to do something special with his gifts -- he wanted to shape a statue of Christ that would stand out as a witness to his world. For two years he chiselled and scraped and polished the marble, till he was certain that it carried the likeness of his Lord. But he wanted to test his work on eyes that wouldn’t lie. So he went out to the street, and brought in a young girl. He took her into his studio, and he set her down in front of the shrouded stone. Uncovering it, he asked her, Do you know who this is? No, sir! she replied. But he must be a very great man. And Dannecker knew that he’d failed. The statue was good enough for kings and nobles, but it wasn’t good enough to speak the word about Christ.
He was discouraged. He was disheartened. He was depressed. But he knew that he had to try again. So he set his hand to the task. Six years it took him this time! Every day, painstakingly, shaping and carving. Finally it was done. And again, he brought in a child as his first critic. He took off the shroud, and asked her gently, Who is that? Legend has it that tears came to her eyes as she recognized Jesus. It was enough. Dannecker had finished his task. He had created his masterpiece. He had given visible shape to his faith. And later, to a friend, he told the secret of those last six years. It was as if, he said, Christ had joined him daily in his little room. He felt the nearness of his Lord. He sensed the glory of his Presence. All Dannecker had to do, really, was to transfer the vision of Christ that he received to the block of marble.
It’s a powerful story, isn’t it? But there’s more to it. There’s another chapter that comes later, one so striking that it actually makes John’s vision come alive.
Some years later, the French emperor Napoleon Bonaparte saw Dannecker’s work. He was very impressed. He sent for the sculptor, and he had a commission for him -- Make me a statue of the goddess Venus for the Louvre! he said. Quite an honor! To be chosen as the creator of a work of art like that! Who could refuse? But you know what?! Dannecker did! He refused the commission. He gave up that honor. And you know why? This is what he told Napoleon:
"A man who has seen Christ can never employ his gifts in carving out a pagan goddess!"
A SWEET SCENT
The story is told of a missionary to China who was in language school. The very first day of class the teacher entered the room and, without saying a word, walked down every row of students. Finally, still without saying a word, she walked around the room again. Then she came back and addressed the class.
“Did you notice anything special about me?” she asked. Nobody could think of anything in particular. One student finally raised her hand. “I noticed that you had on a very lovely perfume,” she said. The class chuckled. But the teacher said, “That was exactly my point.
You see, it will be a long time before any of you will be able to speak Chinese well enough to share the gospel with anyone in China. But even before you are able to do that, you can minister the sweet fragrance of Christ to these people by the quality of your lives. It is your lifestyle, lived out among the Chinese people, that...
On a wall near the main entrance to the Alamo in San Antonio, Texas, is a portrait with the following inscription: "James Butler Bonham--no picture of him exists. This portrait is of his nephew, Major James Bonham, deceased, who greatly resembled his uncle. It is placed here by his family so that people may know the appearance of the man who died for freedom."
No literal portrait of Jesus exists either. But the likeness of the Son who makes us free can be seen in the lives of everyone of His true followers.
You Can't Put God in a Box
Have you heard that before? In a sense, it is certainly true. The eternal Creator God is outside all our finite minds can comprehend. He is not bound by the natural laws that He put into place for His creation. Though WE cannot confine Him or "put God in a box," HE can! In fact, around 3500 years ago, He chose to confine Himself, in that time and place and for His purposes, to the top of a box. God commanded His people, the Israelites, to build Him a very special box, the Ark of the Covenant.
He said, "There, above the cover between the two cherubim that are over the ark of the Testimony, I will meet with you and give you all my commands..." (Exodus 25: 22)
While not limiting His omnipresence and for His specific purposes, God would still confine His Presence to a specific place, over the cover of the Ark of the Covenant inside the Tent of Meeting. That is where He met Moses and where He said that He would teach His people everything they needed to know.
In the same manner, He confined Himself in order to guide them through the wilderness. "Then the cloud covered the Tent of Meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle... In all the travels of the Israelites, whenever the cloud lifted from above the tabernacle, they would set out; but if the cloud did not lift, they did not set out -- until the day it lifted." (Exod. 40: 34, 36-37)
In order that His people would have an infallible guide and would not have to lean on their own understanding, He confined Himself in a physical place that they could see and follow, a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night.
About 1500 years later, God once again confined Himself. "In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God... the Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us." (John 1: 1, 14)... "For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form..." (Colossians 2: 9)
Jesus Christ, "... made Himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness." (Philippians 2: 7)
The One through whom all things were created willingly confined His glory for thirty-three years to a human body; as a young child, a body that had to be cared for and fed by His mother and as He grew, a body that got weary and sore, and was tempted in every way, just as we are, the Scripture says, yet was without sin. (Hebrews 4: 15) Once again God gave us a perfect and infallible guide for our understanding.
Hebrews 1: 1 - 3 says that "In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days He has spoken to us by His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, and through whom He made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of His being, sustaining all things by His powerful Word."
TOO MANY HYPOCRITES
One of the most common excuses given for someone not surrendering to the Gospel of Christ is found in this statement, "There are too many hypocrites in the church."
Many persons who are seen by outsiders to be "hypocrites" may be true, yet immature, Christians. Christians are saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone and are being changed into His likeness; some grow quickly in their walk with the Lord, others more slowly.
However, there is another undeniable fact. There are many hypocrites in the church. People have many reasons for attending church; some are Biblical and valid, others are not. Many Pharisees in Jesus' day performed the external actions of religion without true inner devotion to God. Jesus didn't mince words with them. Seven times in Matthew 23, Jesus pronounced "woe" (a curse) on the scribes and Pharisees because they were hypocrites, leading the people astray.
Also, even though Judas Iscariot was chosen to be among the twelve original disciples, Jesus knew him to be a hypocrite. When Judas was proclaiming along with the others that he would not betray the Lord, Jesus said to him, "Yes, it is you." (Matt. 26:25) Judas had earlier complained about a woman pouring expensive perfume on Jesus' feet saying, "It could have been sold and the money given to the poor." But John 12: 6 tells us that Judas did not care about the poor for "...he [Judas] was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it."
The use of the Greek word for hypocrite refers to being a play-actor. An actor usually wore a mask and in speech and action imitated the character of someone else while on a stage to be seen by others. The English transliteration of hypocrite has the meaning of pretending to be what one is not, especially in the area of religion or morality.
Sadly, there are clergy, televangelists and people holding Christian positions, as well as people sitting in the pews each week, professing to be Christians who don't know Jesus Christ. They may have head knowledge but have never been born again. 2 Timothy 2: 19 says, "The Lord knows those who are His and everyone who confesses the Name of the Lord must turn from wickedness." Peter wrote, "Therefore, rid yourself of all... hypocrisy." (I Peter 2: 1) Jesus said the place assigned for hypocrites is in hell. (Matthew 24: 51)
Does the fact that there are counterfeit $20 bills in circulation prevent you from using those that are in your pocket? No! You trust that they are real. The fact that there are hypocrites in the church should not prevent you from receiving Christ into your life and being all you can be in Him!
Hypocrites play at religion when people can see them in church; but they live, talk and act much differently elsewhere. They watch the same movies, tell the same jokes, commit the same sins and have the same bad attitudes as others of the world when outside of their "religious" setting.
True Christians have found Christ's forgiveness through repentance of sin. They are not perfect, but they will live life with the fervent desire that the power of God's Holy Spirit will change them more and more into the image of their Lord.
Don't let hypocrites keep YOU from eternal life in Christ!
In the summer of 2002 Tulsa Oklahoma had a burglary suspect that did something quite unusual. According to the KOTV television news, Edward McBride kicked in the door of a house, and grabbed a duffle bag full of electronic gear. As he left the house, a man working next door saw him and called 911. The police arrived as McBride was running toward The Arkansas River and he jumped in with the bag of loot.
Mike Branson was fishing in the river and saw officers go in after McBride. Mike said, "They were pulling their stuff off yelling at him to come back in but the guy just stayed out there. The officers got in the water he [the suspect] went down once or twice, he didn’t come back up.” The suspect never would release the stolen items. The fire department recovered McBride’s body about thirty minutes later.
All of us born on this Earth are part of this story. We too have clutched onto the things of this world with relentless passion, completely guilty before the law. The Father in heaven pleads with us to leave the turbulent waters...
Too many Christians of our day seem to be totally unconcerned with the need to be conformed to the image of Christ (Rom.8: 29). Rather, they seem to think that they can live pretty much as they please, as long as they admit it to God. This could not be farther from the truth. Somewhere along the line we have lost our fear of God.
As John Franklin says: Barna Research shows no significant difference in the lifestyles of Christians within the church and those of pagans when it comes to living together before marriage, illegitimate births, gambling, and discounting absolute standards of right and wrong. In fact, the divorce rate among Christians is even higher (26% compared to 22%).
Source: Light, A magazine of The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission Of The Southern Baptist Convention. From Donnie Martin's Sermon "Longing For the Likeness of the Lord"
Henry Wingblade used to say that Christian personality is hidden deep inside us. It is unseen, like the soup carried in a tureen high over a waiter's head. No one knows what's inside--unless the waiter is bumped and he trips! Just so, people don't know what's inside us until we've been bumped. But if Christ is living inside, what spills out is the fruit of the Spirit. --Carl Lundquist.
From Donnie Martin's Sermon "Longing For the Likeness of the Lord"