Monday, January 26, 2015

The Persistent Influence Of The World System

As Christians we have a real challenge to live the character of Christ in a world that is strangely attractive in the opposite of Christ. We often live the words of Jesus as if they are a law, an external thing trying to conform the internal but as such do not have a lasting effect. We continue to be drawn to the things from which we were saved. That is because the words of Jesus were never intended as a law to conform to but instead a sign of the fruit of a transformed heart.

One of the things we must be aware of is when self-centeredness tries to creep back into our transformed heart. The entire world system is based on it which makes it hard to avoid, yet Jesus' life demonstrates how the life in the Spirit is anything but self-centered. Because of apostle Paul we have words that Jesus spoke that are not recorded in the gospels:

In everything I have shown you that, by working hard, we must help the weak. In this way we remember the Lord Jesus’ words: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive. (Acts 20:35)

Don't think for a moment that everything Jesus said and did was recorded but the important bits, the bits the Spirit wanted us to hold on to, were. In this case, an important bit, a bit demonstrated by Jesus' life and death, was remembered by Paul for our benefit. But understand the context.

Paul was speaking to church leaders for the last time and he was reminding them of his selfless service. He did not take what was rightfully his but instead he earned his own keep not to be a drain on the church. This was his personal gift to the church and it prevented any problems for the "weak". Some consider the "weak" to be the poor but it is the "weak of spirit", the immature who would bring accusation against Paul and damage the ministry.

Paul laid down his life in many ways, through his hard work for the benefit of those maturing in their faith. That was Paul's great concern, that people would "grow up" in the Spirit, obtaining maturity and here he was explaining to the mature that their calling was to hard work and sacrifice for the benefit of the less mature believers, or the "weak". In other words, they were called as servants to the Body of Christ, as Jesus said they must be. If you know much about Paul's letters various things he has written are already coming to mind to verify what I am saying.

Living according to the world destroys this desire for Christ and selfless living in us and we end up "killing" each other over our impatience and unwillingness to sacrifice for others. Certainly I am free under grace but Paul pointed out that love dictates a willingness to set aside our freedom for the benefit of a fellow believer. Imagine that: people willing to give up freedom for the benefit of other people. Sounds a bit like Jesus to me, who set aside his divinity to take on our flesh.

Transformation is a much higher and demanding calling than conformity. Let us live like the new creation we have become, through the power of Jesus Christ in us, and let us serve one another in love.

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