We were created by God to worship Him. That is our purpose. God’s plan is for us to worship Him. But, there is something else we are supposed to do, too. We are supposed to be like Christ.
If you would take a random poll and ask people in America what they think being a Christian means, most of them would say something like, “To live good lives and go to church.” In reality, that has nothing to do with being a Christian. Sure, living a good life and going to church are wonderful things, and we are supposed to do these things, but being a Christian is something entirely different.
The word “Christian” actually means “being like Christ”. In other words, we could live good lives and go to church every day, but still not be a Christian. To be a Christian means to be as much like Christ in your everyday life as you can possibly be.
It means putting Jesus higher in your life than anything or anybody else. When you do this, you will surely get negative feedback from your family and friends, but who are you going to succumb to? Who is going to take care of you for eternity? Who has the greatest love for you, and who demands the most love from you? The answer is Jesus Christ.
To be a Christian means to emulate Jesus Christ by the very way you live your life. If everyone in your life doesn’t know that Jesus is number one in your heart, you haven’t done a very good job of being a Christian, have you?
In the 9th chapter of ACTS, we read about Saul’s conversion. The whole point to this chapter is letting us know that we must change from our old ways and become like Jesus.
1. JESUS CALLS US TO FOLLOW HIM
In MATTHEW 4, we see where Jesus told some fishermen to follow Him and He would make them fishers of men. When Jesus is talking about following Him, He isn’t talking about just tagging along. Jesus is asking for their lives to follow His life.
When we play follow the leader, we don’t just go in the same general direction of the leader; we try to follow the leader’s movements as closely as possible, don’t we? In effect, Jesus was telling us to follow Him in the same way.
I think there are three levels of Christians.
The first level is the believer. He is the one who has accepted the message of Jesus and is still learning how to live the basics of the Christian faith.
The second level is the follower. He is the one who is a little more focused than the believer, and is striving to have a deeper relationship with Jesus.
The third level is the disciple. He is the one who has pursued Christ in his life and has worked at worshiping and praising God in all he does. This person has truly surrendered to the Lord to the point where he will do whatever, and go wherever, the Lord leads him. His focus is on nothing less than the gates of Heaven.
2. JESUS CALLS US TO LOOK LIKE HIM
Not only does Jesus call us to follow Him, He actually wants us to look like Him. He isn’t talking physically, but spiritually.
In MATTHEW 22:36-38, we read,
"Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?" Jesus replied: "’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ’Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments."
Jesus loves His Father, and He loves His neighbor. Jesus wants us to love God the Father and our neighbors with the same type of love. And our job is to be a true and proper reflection of Jesus Christ in our lives, but are we doing that? Do we too often find that we have short tempers, lose patience, or just have an anger problem with those around us?
Our job is to let Jesus transform our hearts to be more like His. As Christians, we have a choice to either react to circumstances the way our carnal nature wants us to, or to act like Jesus would.
Here is a test for you. In your mind’s eye, go back and think about the last ten days. Have you lost your temper with someone? Have you gotten frustrated at someone and just wished they would stop bugging you? Have you wished that people could understand that your way is the best way?
Now, ask yourself this question: "When I reacted that way, was I properly reflecting the love of Jesus in my actions or thoughts? Or not?"
Jesus will transform our spirit to look like His. Again, we have a choice when faced with earthly circumstances. We can react like the devil or we can act like the Holy Spirit is indwelled within us. It is our choice, but again, let me ask you to think about how you have reacted, or acted, in your life recently.
Jesus transforms our mind to think more like His. You can choose what you think about, too. We can focus on the world and all the satanic things the evil one offers us, or we can focus on the Lord.
If you focus on the world, you may be passing up a trip to Heaven. If you focus on Heaven, you will be able to do it easier by opening your Bible each day and reading what God wants to say to you.
In 2 TIMOTHY 3:16-17, we see how God uses the bible to renew our minds.
‘All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It straightens us out and teaches us to do what is right. It is God’s way of preparing us in every way, fully equipped for every good thing God wants us to do.’
In 2 CORINTHIANS 3:18, we see how God used the Holy Spirit to renew our minds.
‘And all of us have had that veil removed so that we can be mirrors that brightly reflect the glory of the Lord. And as the Spirit of he Lord works within us, we become more and more like Him and reflect His glory even more.’
In GALATIANS 2, we read where Paul confronted Peter in front of many other believers when Peter was wrong. This brought about a change in all of the believers attitudes. This shows how God uses other people to renew our minds, too.
Here are the differences between our fleshly nature and our new righteous nature.
In our fleshly nature, we know it all, we are authoritarian, domineering, and arrogant. In our new nature, we become willing listeners and we allow others their place in the chain of command, too. We become less arrogant and more humble. LUKE 5:1-11, says that we actually become teachable in our new nature.
In our fleshly nature, we are exact, precise, unforgiving, rigid, and unbending. In our new nature, we are willing to let others lead, we become willing to take direction without feeling angry, and we learn in LUKE 5:27-39, we become flexible and willing to let go of old established ways to accept the new and better ways.
In our ungodly fleshly nature, we are concerned with how we look, what our position in life is. We seek to be the center of attention, and we want people to know how many good things we have done.
In our new nature in Christ, we seek anonymity, we think about others more than we do ourselves, and in LUKE 6:20-26, we see how we stop thinking of our personal image and start thinking of other people. In our new nature, we stop demanding everything go the way we want them to go, and we focus on how things should be going for the good of God.
3. WE ARE TO KNOW WHO WE ARE
Not only does Jesus call us to follow Him and to look like Him. But to do that properly, we must know who we are in Christ. We are Christians; God’s elect; and joint heirs to his throne with Christ Jesus. We are to always be aware of that and to know the benefits these blessings afford.
COLOSSIANS 1:13-14 tells us where we came from.
‘For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.’
COLOSSIANS 1:21-22 tells us where we came to.
‘Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation.’
To walk the true Christian walk, we must always remember who we are and what we have.
God RESCUED us. He reached down in His everlasting love and plucked us from the path of death and gave us life.
God TRANSFERRED us. He removed us from a bad place and put us in a good place.
God REDEEMED us. He offered His Son’s blood so that anyone who chose, might receive it and therefore receive eternal salvation in Heaven.
God JUSTIFIED us. We can now walk freely with and be friends with God.
God SANCTIFIED us. We are now clean and holy in His sight, without blemish.
God FORGAVE us. We are no longer under the condemnation of past sins.
God RECONCILED us. We are now reunited in complete harmony with God.
If we remember all that God has done for us, we can then walk the walk of a true Christian. But, what does that entail? Just how do we walk that walk?
ROMANS 12:9-16 tells us.
‘Don’t just pretend that you love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Stand on the side of the good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. Never be lazy in your work, but serve the Lord enthusiastically. Be glad for all God is planning for you. Be patient in trouble, and always be prayerful. When God’s children are in need, be the one to help them out. And get into the habit of inviting guests home for dinner or, if they need, lodging for the night. If people persecute you because you are a Christian, don’t curse them; pray that God will bless them. When others are happy, be happy with them. If they are sad, share their sorrow. Live in harmony with each other. Don’t try to act important, but enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all.’
That is how we truly become a real Christian.
4. GOD SHAPES US TO SERVE HIM
In my last couple of sermons, I told you that we have three truths in our lives.
One; God loves us
Two; God wants us to love Him, and
Three; God wants us to love others in His name.
In JOB 10:8, we see where God created us.
‘Your hands shaped me and made me.’
In EPHESIANS 2:10, we read where we were made to work for God.
‘We are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.’
God shapes us through our hearts and how we love others.
But we must be very careful. Even though we have been shaped by God, it is very easy for us to lose that shape here in this sinful world we live in. When this happens, we will start to reform into the shape of our original sinful nature. And that shape is only for serving the evil one.
To keep us as safe as possible, God gave us a leader that would help us keep our new righteous shape. His name is Jesus. He is our Christ. He is our Messiah; our deliverer.
In MATTHEW 20:28, Jesus said,
‘Your attitude must be like My own, for I did not come to be served, but to serve..’
If we have no love for others, no desire to serve others, then should question whether or not Jesus is really in my life.
In PHILIPPIANS 2:4, it states,
‘Forget yourself long enough to lend a helping hand.’
Most of us don’t have a problem with helping others as long two conditions are met. One; it is a convenient time for us to help them, and Two; we get the credits and acclaim for doing so. Somehow, I don’t think this is what God had in mind when He told us to help others.
God shapes us through our attitudes and how we think.
Our fleshly nature is such that as long as it benefits us in some way, we rush to help others, but sadly, if we see no benefit to ourselves, we too often deny that help.
2 CORINTHIANS 6, it tells us to put no stumbling block in anyone’s path, because if we do, our own ministry will be discredited.
That is what Satan does. He tries his best to block all of our Christian efforts. But in EPHESIANS 6:10-11, we are warned about that.
‘Finally, be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.’
God shapes us through our experiences.
We are cautioned to be steadfast and unwavering. In 1 CORINTHIANS 15:58, it says,
‘Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.’
We are in a constant struggle between our fleshly nature and our new righteous nature. And, even the best of Christians sometimes falter. Sometimes, we even do the right things, but for the wrong motives.
MATTHEW 6:1, says,
‘When you do good deeds, don’t try to show off. If you do, you won’t get a reward from your Father in Heaven.’
In other words, when we do something to help somebody, do it to help them. If nobody knows who did it, that is fine, because it is better that our Lord gets the credit for good things than giving it to us, isn’t it?
Not only do we use the wrong motives at times, but we also make the wrong choices from time to time.
PROVERBS 3:27-28 tells us,
‘Do not withhold good from those who deserve it, when it is in your power to act. Do not say to your neighbor, “Come back later and I’ll give it to you tomorrow” when you now have it with you.’
We are talking about doing good every chance we get, and to have Christian motives in all we do. But, we live in a sinful world, and all too often, we find that we get confused as to exactly what we are to do, or how we are to do it. The answer is to do what we think the Lord would want in every situation.
In EPHESIANS 6:7-8, we are told,
‘Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men, because you know that the Lord will reward everyone for whatever good he does, whether he is slave or free.’
And let us never forget that whenever we do anything, the Lord is to get full credit at the expense of our receiving none whatsoever.
REVELATION 1:6 says,
‘To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father - to Him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen.’
The most important thing we must remember is that everything we have comes from God. It does not come from anywhere else. And, every time we see successes in our lives, we must remember that they do not come from our abilities to produce them. They come from God, because that is how He ordained it from the beginning.
2 TIMOTHY 1:9 says,
‘It is He who saved us and chose us for His holy work not because we deserved it but because that was His plan...’
PSALM 139:13 tells us, that we were shaped even before we were born.
God shaped us so that we could better perform the work of Jesus Christ. And to help us do that, He gave us an assortment of Spiritual gifts.
In 1 PETER 4:10, we are told to use whatever gift we have received, and to use that gift to serve others.
But we need to know that when we serve others, it must be from the desires of our hearts. In PROVERBS 27:19, says that just as a face is reflected from water, the heart will reflect the person.
Will the Victory Singers please come forward?
God filled us with the Holy Spirit to help us do the job for Christ. With that, he also gave us every skill and ability needed to perform that job. God glorified us in that He completed every detail in our make-up so that we can do that job.
In order to help you become the best possible Christian you can be, I want you to answer these 5 questions. Answer them to yourself and answer them honestly.
-- Am I serving Jesus the way I am supposed to?
-- If not, what is holding me back from doing so?
-- In my opinion, am I really devoted to Jesus?
-- Does my attitude show the love of Jesus?
-- What am I going to do to start serving Christ better?