|We often talk about the great blessings of being a Christian, and so we should. We have the freedom of having been forgiven all our sins, the knowledge that a better world awaits us, and the certainty that weapons formed against us will not prosper. We revel in the joy of our salvation. We are blessed to know that greater is He who is in us than he who is in the world. These are the wonderful gifts that our minds will naturally gravitate towards.
What we need to include with our daily recounting and rejoicing is our responsibilities as Christians. We have been commanded to go to the world and preach the gospel, to be the light of the world, to not walk in darkness, to deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Him.
1 John 1:5-7
This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.
The very word “Christian” means “Christ-like”, and John is saying it is not like Christ to walk in darkness.
“But I say to you who hear: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you. To him who strikes you on the one cheek, offer the other also. And from him who takes away your cloak, do not withhold your tunic either. Give to everyone who asks of you. And from him who takes away your goods do not ask them back. And just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise.”
Just as we know that walking in darkness is not like Christ, forgiving our enemies is very much like Him. So is doing good to those who hate us and praying for those who spitefully use us.
To say we live in difficult times would be a major understatement. To say we always deal with them properly would not be accurate. We live in a time where lies are promoted and protected as truth, where fiction is presented as fact, where good and evil have exchanged definitions, and, yet, being “like Christ” is the same as it has always been.
So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.
It is much easier to be quick to speak and quick to wrath in times such as these, yet the outcome of such actions does not accomplish that which should be our life’s goal – righteousness in God. We need to remember that wrath is coming, an unprecedented time of wrath made up of immeasurable cataclysmic events upon the earth in quick succession as recorded in Revelation 6-19.
2 Peter 3:8-9
But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.
Since we are to be like Christ and He is unwilling that any should perish, then that should be our heart, too. If He, as Luke 6:35 says, is kind to the unthankful and the evil, then we also should be kind to the unthankful and evil. That doesn’t mean we never stand up for our rights, nor does it mean we are silent about injustice. Instead, it means that just as Christ endured the cross, so too should we endure our sufferings in life with the joy set before us of seeing people come to Christ.
Our wrath does not manifest the righteousness of God, but it does manifest our flesh. There are times when righteous anger is justified, as are the coinciding actions. When Jesus saw the evil and hypocrisy in the temple, He overturned the tables of the money changers and merchandisers. But, we also have to remember what He was so angry about that He made a whip to drive them out.
Then Jesus went into the temple of God and drove out all those who bought and sold in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves. And He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you have made it a ‘den of thieves.’”
Jesus didn’t get angry over Roman taxation. He said to render to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s. Jesus did not rage over Judas’s betrayal. He called him friend, even though He said he was a devil. What Jesus did become angry about was the misrepresentation to the world of His Father and the turning of His house into a den of thieves.
Yes, our world is a mess. Yes, our world is upsetting. Yes, our world hates us and says all manner of evil against us falsely for His name’s sake. However, none of those things exempts us from being “like Christ”. As a matter of fact, these are prime opportunities to be more like Christ.
This world is not our home and thus we shouldn’t act like it is. We live in a broken and fallen world that needs Jesus. He is our mission in life, for only through His name can broken people be saved.
Even so, come quickly Lord Jesus