Friday, January 27, 2006

# 125: The Secret of How Christ Lived as He Did

This post is lengthy, and may be difficult for some to understand or believe if they are not or do not desire to live a Christ-like life. It will sound like Greek to them. Therefore, I recommend it be skipped for the present time, and readers should scroll down to others posts that may make more sense and be of greater interest.

It concerns Jesus Christ’s motives and ability behind living a perfect life, something which remains a point of contention among many Christians. In His body, Jesus Christ was as human as you and me. The one way in which He differed from the rest of us was His inner being, or spirit. He also had a very intimate relationship with His Father. How did He acquire this closeness with God? This was the Father’s doing. God the Father was able to speak with His Christ as He spoke to none other, because He knew Christ’s destiny—of course, God knows everyone’s destiny. How the Father spoke to Jesus is not known, but my guess is that the method differed little from the manner in which He speaks to us—if we only will listen. The amazing aspect of this relationship from a mortal’s frame of reference—particularly that of a modern mortal—is that Jesus believed God unconditionally and did exactly as He said without reservation. How did Jesus acquire the ability to believe? The Father gave it to Him.

Of course, under normal circumstances, having the ability to do something is by no means a guarantee that one will actually do it. So, why did Christ believe? Because along with that belief, God gave Christ His spirit (His actual life). Since God gave Christ His life, at that time Jesus was actually God in the flesh, the literal embodiment of God. How did Jesus know this? Because He believed God. God the Father gave Jesus something He had never given to anyone else, because Jesus was very special; He had belief that was not muddied with doubt. Jesus was devoid of pleasing emotions that are derived from the world; Jesus lived this way by faith, because He was experiencing eternal pleasures that were much more enriching, to say the least.

What did this belief produce in Jesus? Jesus knew He was very special. He knew He was loved by the Father like no one was ever loved before, and He felt that way. Jesus was needed and He felt that way. Jesus was wanted; He knew it and felt that way. Jesus had a very special job to do and He knew it. The Father could not do without Jesus; He knew it. The Father said to Jesus, “You are my Son.” Jesus knew it through belief in His Father, and He lived accordingly. The faith Jesus had in His Father produced many powerful emotions, and these allowed Him to live as He did. The emotions I am talking about are not like the emotions we routinely experience. In the case of Jesus, they were the result of faith in God.

With every individual belief, an emotion is produced. The emotion is not the thing of value in and of itself, but it is valuable as the fuel that produces action. To clarify: Jesus knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that He was important, loved, needed, valuable, irreplaceable, the Son of God, and that He had eternal life. He knew that He was the most unique individual that had ever lived. This is how the Father felt about Jesus, and Jesus’ unfailing belief in these facts drove Him in His purpose.

Now we know how and why Jesus lived as He did; with that kind of faith, He couldn't have lived any differently. All that He did in His life confirmed to the Father that Jesus believed Him. With knowledge of how and why Jesus lived to please his Father, we have more than a clue as to how we also must live a life that pleases Him, and why we should. We are told in almost every page in the Bible, in literally every sermon we hear, in every Christian book we read, what is expected of us as Christians. Yet not many tell us why it is absolutely necessary, or how we can accomplish it.

Let God tell a mystery so simple that even a small child can understand it, which at the same time is one of the most profound and complex concepts in the Christian life. Since Jesus did not make this concept known openly, but only alluded to it in His teachings, I am reluctant to speak of it at this time because those who are not born of God may seek to twist it into something dirty—as in distilling it down to mere words. It is because I know for sure that many will take it and live accordingly; it is for the glory of God that I write it down.

So here goes: The motives which compelled Jesus to live as He did must also be our motives. How is that possible? If, and only if, we truly desire to believe as Jesus did, God the Father will give us that same faith by giving us the spirit that Jesus had—the spirit is the part of us that dictates to our mind what to do and why. Is this not wonderful? If and when we ask, however, we must ask not only with our mouths, but with our hearts and our lives, because God will replace our worldly life with Christ’s holy life. If we ask and do not receive, it is because we don't know what we are asking for. It was not easy for Jesus to live as He did. He did not live an ordinary life as seen from one on the outside. When one of us modern twenty-first century humans truly lives a Christ-like life, it is deemed the most radical lifestyle displayed in any realm, Christian or otherwise.

Let’s continue in our quest to understand the dynamics of Christ-like belief. The first element is that everyone always and only lives up to what they believe about themselves. Jesus knew He was the Son of God through belief in what His Father said about Him; therefore, to oversimplify a bit, He lived as He believed a Son of God should live. We as children of God and brothers of Christ will live as children of God are supposed to live; that is, if we truly have faith. Can anyone begin to understand the power that is produced by that fact alone? God's relationship with Jesus was as if no one else of importance existed in the world. Though God loves us all—but in different ways—our relationship with the Father must be as though we are the only one God has to do the monumental job He has assigned to us. This must be believed, not just mouthed. As I mentioned in posts # 82, 83, and 84, the dynamic revelation that every Christian has a personal God—the idea that you are so important to Him that no one else exists in the world aside from Him and you—is quite viable. He loves you to such a degree that words cannot even come close to describing the emotions that can be produced from that love if you are willing to share in it. You are the only one who can show the world His love by your life and your words. He needs you more than life itself. When a person truly believes this, which will only be possible by desiring to empty self of all worldly desires/things that seem to bring meaning to life, then God can give you power that can turn the world upside down. That is how we are enabled to do and be what we were meant to do and be as Christians. Can anyone imagine the impact if we had a million or so, even several thousand, or a mere 300 people that all possessed that voracious drive, that passionate intensity to live life in this Christ-like fashion?

Very few will deny that God loves us all, and that is true. Another truth: When we know for sure that someone loves us, it always has an effect on how we live. Let me give you a small illustration of the effects of love. Think back in your life to when you were a youth, to your first case of puppy love. Can you remember the feelings you had? You just couldn't wait to be together with your love. For the first time, someone actually loved you, and in a different way than your mom or dad. That love made you feel as if you were continually walking on cloud nine. For the first time, you felt really important and valuable. Someone of the opposite gender actually thought you were desirable and attractive. You get the picture? That love was erotic, however, and perhaps lasted only a short time, but what a great experience and memory.

Can we compare the love God has for us with that puppy love? Do I even need to ask? There isn't a comparison. God's love makes that love look like absolutely nothing. Nevertheless, even that love affected our life in a dramatic way. How we believe will always affect how we live and feel. Does God's love for us affect us in a similar way? If your honest answer is no, I must then ask: Why not? If His love for us is many times more realistic and intense than that baby love of ours, doesn’t it stand to reason that we should be affected many times more? Of course it does.

Why, then, do we so often fail to act accordingly? The only answer I can come up with is this: Though God loves us more than we could ever imagine, the majority of us don't believe it to the extent that it affects our lives in a dramatic way. When someone loves you but you are not aware of it—though many may know of that love—it is called secret love. Why don't we know about God's love for us? No doubt there are many reasons, one being the effects, pleasures and sorrows the material world has on us that make God seem unreal and unimportant, since we’ve been conditioned to believe only in that which we can see. Many thus accept the concept of God in the abstract, but don’t believe that He has any great concern for us, let alone love. Consequently, the effect of our so-called belief is minimal.

How can we put the physical world into its proper place, to the point where we believe that God loves us to that degree? This ability to believe in Him is given only to those whom God has chosen. Well, that doesn't seem quite fair, does it? Does that mean that not everyone has an equal chance for eternal life? Well, there are two ways to identify God's chosen: from God's vantage point, which is always correct, and man's, which can be seriously flawed. Here is God's perspective: When He chooses someone for eternal life, it is because He knows in advance who will believe. Those are the only ones He chooses. Sounds like cheating, but God only responds to a person’s action through their free will before the fact. Can you imagine creating a world and not knowing for sure how it would turn out? I wouldn't want that type of God to be my Lord.

Let’s put it in simpler language. If Christians truly desire to believe with their whole lives in God and His great love for us, then His life and love are ours for the having. When a person merely says he/she believes in God, without adherence to New Testament commands, his/her belief is compromised and will never materialize to the point that his/her life will be affected in response to God's love. Remember, true belief always affects the whole being; therefore, claims of belief must include the whole being or they are only words. As an adolescent, that love of yours affected your whole life. You were totally different inwardly. Now we know the type of belief we need—one that only God can give—in order to have the same motive that Jesus had for living a life pleasing to God. What are we going to do about it? Let me ask a stupid question: How much is your life worth to you? Are you willing to give up all the joys and rewards of humanity? This is where the rubber meets the road. The majority would answer, “No.” We think we have too much to lose, when we really cannot comprehend the value of what we will gain. When we live life as we see fit, even in the name of Christ, our “Christian life” will be devoid of the power to live with the same motive Christ had. Isn't that the kind of Christianity we see around us in the world today? A lot of holy words, blase Christian works, a lot of compromise, and no power, all amounting to no Christ.

Now, some may say, “But Jesus wasn't tainted with sin as we all are, so it was easier for Him to believe than it is for us.” That may be true to some extent, but the advantage we have over Christ to live a life that is pleasing to the Father is threefold. How? First, we are living, or supposed to be living, the resurrected life, which He was not given at that time. This means that we have it made, so to speak. We can't lose. Second, He showed us how to do it. He needed to be the sinless trailblazer as God's perfect example for us. Does that sound easy? Third, He gives us His Spirit; that Holy Spirit contains all He experienced as a mere man while on earth. We can tap into Christ’s thirty-three years of humanity as He experienced it and apply it as if it happened to us, but it won't come easy or cheap. This seems unbelievable, and yet readily available. What I mean: In most of Jesus’ teachings He spoke in absolutes, either black or white, without gray areas. The reason for this is that He was relaying to us the intensity of His relationship with His Father. He knew that the same relationship would be ours in time. In His teaching, He was only giving us a sneak preview of our lives—our intimate connection with God—the lives we could have through God’s grace. Where is grace? Grace is everywhere. He worked for it and we receive it, although not one of us deserves it. Once we receive it, then we can live it. I can almost see someone who doesn't belong to God trying to make heads or tails of what I’m saying. Forget it. It is all in a secret code, and the key to breaking that code is His life. But don't give up hope. God will give you His life-changing Son if you really and truly are aware of a desperate need for Him.

You are the one—yes, you are the one; God wants you, more than words can ever make known, to have the same motive Jesus had to do the great works of the Father. All things are possible to one who has faith. “Greater things than these, you will do.” These promises are not just pie-in-the-sky dreams. Now, can you see how Jesus’ life can virtually be duplicated in you?

I may get lot of flak from some for using the word “duplicate.” Other than dying for the sins of the world, can we name one thing about Jesus’ life that He wouldn’t allow or desire you and me to reproduce? He is our perfect and complete example. The power to live as Christ lived comes from having the same state of affairs that existed between Jesus and his Father. God will give us that faith. Then we can accomplish His desires for us; by God's grace, we will do it with His power. We are not talking just words here; we are talking eternal life in the here and now.

This type of “Jesus connection” to the Father will not come by wishful prayer. Fervent, breathtaking prayer with true spiritual desire will make God materialize, giving us powerful belief, real love, and faith, resulting in dynamic Christ-like results. To make light of this all-important truth and to treat it with little account will leave us impotent. Don't forget the fact that is so often forgotten: Satan and all his cohorts—and there are billions—are making every effort to destroy the works of Christ in every individual who makes any serious attempt to live like Jesus. Yes, there is a spiritual battle going on at all times, and if we do not make a continual effort to defeat the enemy, he will undermine God's first line of defense, our Christ-like faith. And guess what? Satan will accomplish his purpose through our spiritual lethargy, usually because we have left him a toe-hold in our lives. With our faith undermined, we cannot stand.

To sum up: The relationship our Lord Jesus Christ had with His Father is available to us. This is for real; it’s not just another Christian cliché or method of proving to the world that we have a personal relationship with God. This kinship has to be so real that we can touch it, see it, smell it, and live it. Jesus had the Father’s life, and we have Jesus’ life. As Jesus was loved with a very special love, we now can be loved with that same love. If and when we believe this, the greatest and most difficult truth to apply, Jesus Christ will walk this Earth again in the lives of His people, with power. Amen. So, it is not only what Jesus did but how He did it that is of paramount importance to us.

God did his part in giving us Jesus. Jesus did His part in giving us His life. Now it is our part to make every effort to live His life. If we don’t, we foolish mortals had better start shaking in our boots, because this principle is displayed by Godly logic. Once qualified by grace, the ones who win this Christian contest are the ones who put forth the most effort, all else being equal. This isn’t doing good works for salvation; this is works because of our God-given salvation. Grace must come first; then, and only then, works will materialize. No works, no life. There are more bad guys than good guys, so the contest is not equal. We can't rely on our Coach being more powerful—though He is—if we don't play by the rules as dictated in God’s book. Jesus made every effort and won. Pray to God that by the love of Christ, we too will make every effort and also win.

Now, possibly for the first time, atheists and skeptics can see why organized Christianity is a miserable excuse for living a Christ-like life. I am sure this authentic version of Christianity makes more logic to unbelievers than that of any play-acting “Christian.” It may be necessary to read this several times for the full impact to be understood.

1 comment:

Jay said...

Great post Al. It should be read twice. The things you say in this one are right on. You may think a little different, but I am starting to believe we are on the same side of the fence. Jay