Full of God

The goal of Christians is to be conformed to the image of Christ.  The reason we ask “What would Jesus do?” is to put ourselves in the right frame of mind to be Christ-like in our decision making (Philippians 2).  We know from reading the Gospels and the letters of Paul that we are to think like Christ, to have the heart and mind of a servant, to be humble, to love as Christ loved, and so forth.  Like John the Baptist we must make less of ourselves and more of Christ.  Realizing that we can never become perfectly like Christ, the goal is to continuously work at it.  As we get closer and closer, others should be able to see Christ in us.  They were called Christians first at Antioch why?  Because the followers of Christ at Antioch sounded and acted like the one they were following.

Ephesians 3 mentions one way to be Christ-like, which I had never noticed before.  Read Colossians 1, noting verse 19 that says “For in him [Christ] all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell…”  Jesus was incarnate deity, the person of God robed in a body of flesh.  One aspect of Jesus Christ is that he was full of God.  Now look at Ephesians 3, a short chapter in which Paul reveals the mystery of the Gospel.  In particular:

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.  -Ephesians 3:14-19 ESV

There are many things we can choose to fill ourselves with; Paul says we should be full of God.

The Grace to be Christ-Like

A couple of days ago I published The Challenge to be Christ-Like on the blog Life in Mordor.  It’s a group blog that I contribute to.  In Luke 23:34, while Jesus is hanging on the cross, he prays “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.”  How can anyone be that Christ like?  Perhaps some have given sacrificially, prayed for our enemies, served on the mission field, maybe even given up their own life to save another.  Jesus prayed the prayer of intercession for the very people mocking him while they crucified him.  And we are commanded to have the same mind in us (Phil 2).

As I have continued to think about this challenge, I am reminded of a couple of things. One, we are never tempted beyond what we can bear.  God knows what we are made of, and he has searched and knows each heart.  As we learn from Job, the devil is on a leash.  Even when he’s the devil, he’s God’s devil.  Secondly, and more importantly, is the promise that God’s grace is sufficient to meet each need.  His grace provides our daily bread, as Jesus taught us to pray and history demonstrates in Exodus with the heavenly manna.  When Elijah asks the widow to feed him (1 Kings 17) she was just about to make one cake for herself, one for her son, and then they were both going to starve to death.  By God’s grace, she makes three cakes and they each have a small meal.  The next day, there was enough flour and oil for one more day; and the same the next day, and the next day, and the next day.  There was always just enough; the Bible never says one morning the bowl was full of flour, nor the bottle full of oil.  God’s grace was sufficient daily.

By the way, the original challenge was about being Christ-like to the extreme.  I asked who besides Jesus himself could do what he did on the cross.  Read Acts chapter 7.  As Stephen is being stoned to death, he prays in verse 60 “Do not hold this sin against them.”  It’s one of those “With God all things are possible” moments.  When the time comes, his grace is sufficient for whatever he has called us to.