Saturday, August 20, 2005

Matt's Blogs...

Matt's Blogs...

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Are We Merely "Imitating" Christ?

" Imitating Christ is something far too many Christians are doing while mistaking this "imitation" for the real thing in Christian living."

Although it is quite normal, in the beginning of our relationship with God to "imitate" that which the Word of God portrays in instruction and manner, I have just realized there are many of us that fail to see that Christ REALLY wants more than just our actions to manifest our lives... He wants our "hearts"... God wants our "desires/feelings" to be those of His Son, Jesus Christ. "Well aren't our feelings and our actions the same?", you might ask. My answer would be simply, "No.

"This falsehood of "imitation" may be somewhat necessary in the beginning phases of our relationship, much the same way as when we are children: First we learn to imitate the actions of those around us. This is a natural way to learn when we are young. Looking back on my own experiences, I have done much of this (imitating).

But there comes a time when we should start to mature. When this happens, we begin to "understand" why we do what we do. Our correct "understanding" of our proper identity in Christ (a series I am currently working on under the link "Who We Are In Christ") produces everything important inside us all. It produces "real emotions" for ourselves and those around us. It affects our "heart" (how we really feel about things), and our "motivations" (the force that drives us to do what we do). But to "mis-interpret" our proper identity in Christ, causes confusion, doubt, mis-understanding and error in every aspect of our Christian living... In other words, we end up "imitating" Christian living to a large degree, instead of experiencing "the real thing" that Paul so desperately tried to explain to us all: "Living By The Spirit Of God!"

There was something recently said by a very good friend of "mine" , (although I do suspect in his eyes, we are not the friends I know us to be, due to the fact that a fundamental difference in how we interpret our identities in Christ has arose recently, and this has caused a "distance" between him and I) causing me to think upon this subject of "Imitation In Christian Living". Let me try to explain the difference between "real Christian living" and the "imitation" :

Let's say, for instance, that we have had a disagreement with a fellow brother or sister in Christ. This "dis-agreement" escalated into an argument, and even some "lies" were told that attempted to compromise our personal integrity. We end this argument with such things said as "We will never again work together", or "I never want to see you again because of the lies you have tried to spread concerning me".

Later in time, as we read in The Word we read, 1 John 3:14, "We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death."

Now. If we "mis-interpret" our proper identity in Christ as as an identity that only allows us to be God's Child only "IF" we perform perfectly, then we will understand such passages as the one above to say that, "If I don't rectify this situation, my very salvation will be in danger!" So, we find ourselves going out to knock on the door of the one with which we have had "hard feelings", seeking to rectify a circumstance that holds our very salvation in the balance. I have been told that these people have actually heard God tell them, "If you do not fix this, you will go to hell!" How so very sad, as the God I know would never issue such an ultimatum...

So, this brother finds the other with which he had had dispute, knocks on his door, apologizes for his actions, to his surprise he also received an apology from the other brother as well, and they departed with the two of them having a sense of "reconciliation"... He was very relieved now that his salvation was now again...certain.

But were they really reconciled? I think not. In actuality, they had given forth their best effort to "reconcile", all they had really accomplished was to "imitate" the physical properties of reconciliation, instead of reconciling in their "hearts". They both knew the circumstance of anger between the two of them were wrong, and they wished to correct the problem alright, but the Truth is, they made their best effort, and now they will probably never see each other again, nor will they ever "want" to do so. So did they ever really change anything between them? You can make the call on that one. Now the Truth and ability of The Spirit may well be within both of these individuals, but they have yet to realize/find it, and allow it to govern their "hearts". Thus, "imitation Christian living" governs certain aspects of their lives.

In the same circumstance, let's say that the one that was wrongly accused did live by the Spirit, but his vessel is unbroken. God must totally "break" our vessels through an event, or most likely a series of events in our lives to remove all pride from us. When we are totally broken, we realize we do not have a "right" to anything. We do not deserve anything. We realize in our hearts that we are nothing more than "dirty rags", as scripture says... But let's impose this situation on a vessel that is not yet totally "broken"... This person thinks a bit more of himself than he should. He thinks because of this reason or another, that a certain amount of "respect". "How DARE he say such a thing about... ME!"

Let's say this person loses his cool a bit more than the norm when dealing with this individual... You can imagine the scene. Tempers flare, words are said, and in the end, both people have been greatly compromised. So what's this person that is "living by the Spirit" now to do. Especially given the instruction of 1John 3:14?

The first thing that will happen is that the Spirit Of God within the believer will begin to communicate to him how he "ignored" the God-Given Love he has for his fellow brother in Christ while he was angry, and The Holy Spirit will then swell a need for true "repentance" in the heart of the believer that just fell so short of Christ-like behavior. Then will come a feeling of remorse for what had happened. He will then be very sorrowful in his heart that he let his brother and a great many others around him down by presenting such a horrible example publicly, but most importantly, he failed to be a blessing... a moral compass that was well within his abilities by the Spirit in the situation.This man then goes to his friend offering sincere, heartfelt apologies for his actions and makes clear the love he has for his dear brother.

So what's the difference? I mean, in both circumstances they did the same thing didn't they? They argued and then reconciled in the same manner... Same thing isn't it? Absolutely not! The difference was in "the heart"... The difference was the... Motivation! A "Motivation By Grace"!

In yet another example, let us say the one that was unjustly accused was one that correctly understands their "Identity In Christ" and is a totally "broken" vessel. There is a brother/sister that publicly brings forth accusations that would place our personal integrity at risk. These accusations are false, but being brought forth never-the-less. The other brother/sister even expresses anger toward us. What is the reaction to be of the totally broken believer truly "living by the Spirit"?

Are we "hurt" by these accusations? Sure. But we also realize that there is something else at work here. The enemy and the flesh. We understand that the root of the problem is something going on inside the individual making these accusations. Even though we may be "hurt" by what is being said, we may find ourselves more concerned with what is really wrong with our brother/sister.

Do we "get angry" with the individual? Like I said, it depends greatly on where you are in your learning to submit to The Spirit, but The Spirit would not have you angered because of the error in someone else. Instead, The Spirit would direct you in discerning exactly what it is that's going on instead of participating in simple-minded error. Even though you may decide not to work with this individual for the time being in public ministry because of your "differences", The Spirit would not have you "write him/her off". Instead, you will continue to "yearn" in desire to fellowship with them, teach them, share with them, love with them, learn from them, and eventually you could possibly even shine the light in the many dark places that exist within the heart of your friend. Thus:

"We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren." ... And this is made possible in the heart, by the power of The Holy Spirit within you!

In other words, the "imitation" does what it can because it feels it "HAS" to... The "real thing" never loses sight of love and cherished fellowship in the heart. And anything it does is because it "WANTS" to!

So how do we "gauge" the amount of imitation that exists in us? Just ask yourself, "What is my motivation for doing this?" If your answer is "Because I think I have to", then most likely there is some amount of imitation to be dealt with. If your answer is, "Because I YEARN to make any difference I can for God, and because I really LOVE these people around me... I WANT to be a blessing to others! I WANT to make a difference in the lives of others by giving them REAL help! I DESIRE to give my life to others!", then you are living by The Spirit...

If you are like me and most others, there is much "imitation" to be dealt with. Let's press on to seek from God that which He would have us realize, and seek Him for His TRUE Spirit... That It might make Itself manifest in our hearts. For when this does happen, we will experience a joy, peace and satisfaction that cannot be put into words, and the world will truly be a better place because of your quest for the "Heart Of God"!

Amen & Amen

...Back To Homepage Of "Matt's Blogs"...