by Roland W. Keith
Every Christians goal should be to reflect Christ in their lives. As Paul wrote, “I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:20-21). For all that God does for us in our lives our greatest gain as His children comes after death, when we are welcomed into the bosom of Abraham awaiting our entry into heaven on the judgment day. Until then it is our responsibility and great honor to emulate Christ in our lives, to reflect ever how dimly His glory through the way we conduct ourselves as His followers.
In his first letter John wrote to encourage his readers to turn from the world and the things in it and to do the will of God (I John 2:15-17). The reward is an eternity in the presence of God as citizens of His magnificent and eternal kingdom. To enter into this kingdom, we must become a person transformed. That transformation is achieved when we choose to turn from our sins and follow Jesus, Who once said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not remain in the house forever; the Son remains forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:34-36). If we are to be bound let us be bound to obedience to God and His righteousness (Romans 6:16-18). Indeed, it is only by becoming slaves of righteousness that we can find the truth and real freedom (John 8:31-32; 14:6).
To enter into His kingdom Jesus said that we must be born again— that is spiritually redeemed or made a new person (John 3:3-5; II Corinthians 5:17; Ephesians 4:20-25; Colossians 3:10). In this transformation we become, through the blood of Christ, innocent again— like little children (Matthew 8:13). In this rebirth we are added to the body of Christ and begin the process of reshaping or renewing our minds and bodies, as Paul told the Romans, “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:1-2).
By this renewal we are changed into the likeness of Jesus Christ (II Corinthians 3:18). Becoming a mature Christian is a growing process that requires time and patience, study, prayer, and meaningful interaction with the members of our new family— Christ’s body or church. When we actively engage in the Christian life the Lord changes us and we begin to reflect His image. According to Paul, “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord Who is the Spirit” (II Corinthians 3:18).
The gospel accounts of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John contain the power to salvation (Romans 1:16). And just as the gospel produces a faith that leads to salvation, the epistles and other writings in the New Testament are not only instrumental but are necessary for our spiritual maturation. In his first letter Peter wrote, “Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God; for ‘All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, but the word of the Lord remains forever.’ And this word is the good news that was preached to you” (I Peter 1:22-25).
The word of God is living and powerful (Hebrews 4:12), it is that which brings us to God and sustains us as His faithful servants. It is through His word that God convicts us of our sins and the need for repentance. Moreover, it is through His word that He works within us as His children, and through us as His servants. And it is in it’s wisdom that we can achieve a Christ-filled life in which we put Him first (Philippians 1:21). When we learn to do that, to let God guide us by His word, we become able to keep our hearts and to truly live (Proverbs 4:23). Paul feared for the church in Corinth because it had not yet learned to trust in the word of God but put up with false teachings (II Corinthians 11:3-4). Jesus understood better than anyone how easily the mind of man can be swayed, and its tendency to evil (Mark 7:21-23). That is why He has armed us to do battle against the world and its Dark Master (Ephesians 6:10-18), with all that we need to stand victorious in the end (Romans 11:20; 14:4).
When we become strong in the word of God we are able to destroy any argument against Him and any doubt that may try to creep into our own minds (II Corinthians 10:5-6). We are also able to develop the mind of Christ within ourselves, becoming of one mind with our brothers and sisters in the Lord in the process (Philippians 2:1-7). It is when we learn to think according to the wisdom of the Bible that we can truly begin to reflect Christ to the world becoming a model of the Lord’s way for the world to imitate (Titus 2:7-10).
This oneness of mind with the Lord and our fellow Christians is more than a goal, however. It is a necessity. In Philippians 1:27-30 we read, “Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel, and not frightened in anything by your opponents. This is a clear sign to them of their destruction, but of your salvation, and that from God. For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in Him but also suffer for His sake, engaged in the same conflict that you saw I had and now hear that I still have” (see also Ephesians 4:1-6).
We all belong to the Lord, both individually, and as a body built together as a living temple (I Corinthians 3:16; 6:19-20; Ephesians 2:17-22). Because of this special relationship to the Lord we are to submit our bodies to Him in an appropriate manner, being transformed from conformity with the world into an acceptable vessel for the Lord (Romans 12:1-2). Regarding the body Paul wrote, “Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness… I am speaking in human terms, because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification” (Romans 6:12-13, 19).
When we submit ourselves to God our bodies should become vessels for good (Ephesian 4:28), including that small member known as the tongue. James once said of it, “With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God” (James 3:9). We must master our mind and tongue using it for the praise of God and the edification and welfare of others (II Timothy 2:2; Hebrews 13:15; Colossians 3:16-17; Ephesians 5:19). As Christians we should work together to spread the gospel, edify one another, labor to our own benefit and to the benefit of others (Ephesians 6:15; 4:28). Our conduct should be worthy of the blood of Christ and the sacrifice He made on our behalf (Philippians 1:27).
Everything we do should be a positive reflection of Jesus Christ. To achieve such a goal our lives must be rooted in scripture. Not only that but our decision making must be informed by God’s word above all human creeds, moral and ethical standards, and laws. It is not our job to demand that the world live by our standards (they won’t), but it is our responsibility to set the standard and exhibit the will of God in our lives for all to see. It should also be our goal to share the word with as many people as we can as we walk along life’s way with the hope that a few may turn to God because we were willing tell them the story of Jesus Christ and what He did for all of us.
Hi! I'm Roland. I began writing after retiring from the Navy in 2015. I believe that we each should strive to learn from one another, by sharing our thoughts and ideas. As a writer my goal is to help other seekers of truth to find and grow in Christ.