Hey, Calvary Fremont –
I think that Romans 8:29 is in every Christian’s Top 10 Favorite Bible Verses list. We are being conformed into the image of God’s Son – Jesus Christ. Here’s the question: What is the image of the Son of God? The Bible uses the word ‘image’ not in the sense of resemblance and likeness – like a picture of your wife or husband. The Bible uses the word ‘image’ in the sense of reality, actuality, and substance. We are being conformed to the reality, actuality, and substance of Jesus Christ.
For the last two weeks I’ve been speaking on the Fruit of the Holy Spirit on Sunday morning. And here’s my thesis: the Fruit of the Holy Spirit is the image of Christ. The Fruit of the Holy Spirit is the reality, substance, and actuality of Christ. Amazing!
Jesus is the image of the Father. When you’ve seen Jesus, you haven’t seen the likeness of God; you haven’t seen a resemblance to God. When you’ve seen Jesus, you’ve seen the reality, substance, and actuality of the Father! Christians are the image of Christ. When you meet Christians, you are meeting people who are being transformed into the reality, substance, and actuality of Christ. And here’s the BIG problem. Often, we meet Christians who are not being transformed into and conformed to the image of the Son. We don’t see the Fruit of the Spirit manifest in their lives. There is no love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, or self-control. Yikes!
The world desperately needs Christ AND the world desperately needs Christians. Thirsty people desperately need water AND clean glasses to hold the water. But we find ourselves in a season of time when Christians Behaving Badly are the constant buzz feed. We don’t see love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. We don’t see the Fruit of the Spirit, the image of Christ – we see the works of the flesh, the image of the devil. Even as dirty glasses make the water they hold less attractive and palatable, so carnal Christians make Christ less attractive and desirable.
The world desperately needs Christ AND the world desperately needs Christians. Is the messenger just as important as the message? Almost! Is the Christian as important as Christ? Almost! Without the messenger there is no message. An unfaithful messenger compromises the message. An unclean vessel renders its contents unclean. Many reject Christ because they reject Christians. Unfortunately, because of Christians Behaving Badly, Christ doesn’t stand a chance.
A 300-pound man passionately promotes his diet plan to you. In talking with him, you discover that he has lost only ten pounds in 10 years. You are underwhelmed, to say the least. He just shot his diet plan in the foot. You are not impressed with his plan at all. You say, “No, thank you.” The thing is, it may be the best diet plan in the world, and you just happened to be talking with the worst practitioner in the world. I think this is the way it is with the Church. Christ is the best and only Savior in the world, but those who claim to follow Him put off a lot of people who might otherwise follow Him because they are so deficient in the image of Christ, the Fruit of the Spirit, the reality, actuality, and substance of Christ.
Many Christians don’t take spiritual things seriously, so why should non-Christians take Christ seriously? The world sees Christians saying one thing and living another thing. The world doesn’t take the message seriously because Christians don’t take the message seriously. The world desperately needs Christ AND the world desperately needs Christians who take the message seriously and bear the Fruit of the Spirit. The life that we live and the integrity we are to walk in has a powerful effect on the conscience of the one who hears us. A holy life registers on the conscience of the non-Christian. The world desperately needs Christ AND the world desperately needs Christians walking in holiness of life.
In the Bible, Christ is the only Savior of all, but He is not the only example of a holy and faithful life. Hebrews 11 highlights some of the men and women of the Old Testament who walked in faith and pleased God. We are to follow their example. Their lives are meant to exert an effect upon our conscience and influence us to live in holiness. Even as the men and women of Hebrews 11 can affect your conscience, so your holy living can affect the conscience of another as they see a man or a woman who lives for God and has escaped the corruption of the world.
The world desperately needs Christ AND the world desperately needs Christians. Be that Christian the world so desperately needs.
Be blessed and stay healthy and follow Jesus – Pastor Tim