Likeness

A disciple of Christ manifests the likeness of Christ

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Read: Matthew 10

“The student is not above the teacher, nor a servant above his master. It is enough for students to be like their teachers, and servants like their masters. If the head of the house has been called Beelzebul, how much more the members of his household.” (Matthew 10:24-25)

Reflect:

When I first became a Christian, I assumed it was blasphemous to seek to be like God. After all, isn’t that how the serpent tempted Eve when he told her, “when you eat from it … you will be like God” (Genesis 3:5)?

But then I was introduced to verses like these (10:24-25), where Jesus Christ clearly taught his disciples that they should be like him. Elsewhere, God directly says, “Be holy, for I am holy.” (Six times in Leviticus and twice in 1 Peter.) Paul’s advice is to imitate him (Paul) as he imitates Jesus (1 Corinthians 11:1).

It is now apparent to me that where people seek, in their hubris, to make themselves like God through their own efforts (as Eve did), they sin. But where we respond to the call of Jesus to follow him, to follow his example, to be like our teacher and master Jesus Christ, to be holy as the LORD is holy… in this, there is no sin, only sanctification.

These verses and others like them are the reason part of my tagline at crux.live is live Christ.

In my character, I am to seek to live like Christ, with the Spirit’s help. In doing so, I should expect to be persecuted, just as my teacher and master was persecuted.

The wider the gulf between contemporary culture and Christ-like holiness, the more Christians will suffer persecution for their resemblance to Jesus. This is what is currently happening to Australian sportsman Israel Folau for his (biblically-based) social media comments. Persecuted Christians need to cling to Matthew 10:32, where Jesus promised, “Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven.”

crux:

A disciple of Christ manifests the likeness of Christ.

Respond:

LORD God Almighty,

Your Son was perfect and yet he was persecuted.
Jesus was sinless and still he was slandered.

May I give glory to Jesus Christ in my everyday ordinary Christian life. May I never be guilty of persecuting Christ, and never slander his name.

Please make me like Christ, my teacher and master. Make me compassionate and wise, confident and generous, merciful and hopeful. Make me shrewd and innocent. Help me to manifest Christ’s likeness in my everyday ordinary life.

Do not protect me from persecution, or else how will I know that I am like my teacher? But please, LORD, help me to endure whatever persecution comes and stand firm in my faith to the end. I pray this also for Israel Folau and for all who are criticised for their Christ-like holiness.

Amen.

Running

Christianity is defined by Christ, not by any human government

Read: 2 John

Watch out that you do not lose what we have worked for, but that you may be rewarded fully. Anyone who runs ahead and does not continue in the teaching of Christ does not have God; whoever continues in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. (2 John 1:8-9)

Reflect:

Today, just after I read 2 John, my husband told me that the ABC has just reported that China has blocked the sale of Bibles – from online stores at least – since Easter Friday, 30 March 2018. It is no longer possible for a Chinese person in China to purchase a Bible in the Chinese language online.

This is both censorship and religious persecution, the preventing of people from freely pursuing their choice of religion. I shouldn’t be surprised. Just yesterday I read in 1 John 5:19, that “the whole world is under the control of the evil one”.

What are the Chinese losing through this heinous act of their government? They are losing access to the revelation of God, the teachings of Christ.

How may Chinese Christians continue in Christ’s teaching if they cannot read it? Only God can make a way, through his Spirit.

The ABC reports that “the most common interpretation” of this pulling of Bibles from online stores is that “it would be replaced with a state-revised edition.” A Chinese government document recently released was quoted as saying the Chinese will ‘enhance’ “Chinese-style Christianity and theology.” From the ABC News article:

According to an official document released by China’s State Administration for Religious Affairs, one of the biggest tasks in the coming years is to enhance “Chinese-style Christianity and theology” by reinterpreting and retranslating the Bible.

The document, titled Principle for Promoting the Chinese Christianity in China for the Next Five Years (2018-2022), was formally launched in Nanjing in eastern China on March 28. Some social media users said Bibles started coming down from the websites on March 30. (abc.net.au)

There is no such thing as Chinese Christianity, just as there is no such thing as Australian Christianity. Christianity is not defined by the nationality of its adherents, but by Christ, our King. Christianity is not white or black or brown, not eastern or western or even Middle Eastern. Whatever the Chinese government publishes and ‘enhances’, they are merely “running ahead” (to use John’s words), not keeping to the truth.

And it is the truth of Christ that sets us free. But perhaps that is exactly what the Chinese government fears. Perhaps the truth of Jesus Christ has the Chinese government on the run.

Crux:

Christianity is defined by Christ our King, not by any human government.

Respond:

LORD God Almighty,

I am heavy hearted as I pray tonight. I fear for what this political decision means for Christians in China. Will the government try to force Chinese Christians to accept the very antichrists that John warned his readers to avoid (1:7)?

LORD, Give them strength. Make their faith powerful as your mighty power. Help them to keep access to your Scripture, your Word, the Bible, in their own language. May they know the truth about Jesus and not be confused by propaganda of a socialist Chinese-ified version that has no glimmer of your glory.

May people in China find your word freely available once again.

LORD, please make my country’s politicians speak up against this censorship and religious persecution. May our politicians be open in their condemnation of this act by the Chinese government.

And may more people in China and in every country read the Bible and meet Jesus Christ on its pages, starting today.

Amen.