Putting on Christ
If you spend any time in the letters of Paul, you see a pastor’s heart. Paul spends long periods of time in all the places he went as a missionary—sometimes months, sometimes years—and then he spent more years discipling them through his letters.
His connection to the churches reminds me of the bonds I shared with the congregation I pastored for 15 years. When they were sending me off with an appreciation lunch one of the leaders said, “We are not only losing a pastor but a friend as well.”
Paul became their friend. And sometimes as their friend, Paul was the gentle guide, encouraging almost any amount of progress. Other times he was the football coach telling folks to lead, follow, or get out of the way! He sometimes used stern words to encourage these fledgling churches toward transformation.
In Romans 13, among several other places, he touches on this theme:
But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires. Romans 13:14 (ESV)
Put on the Lord Jesus Christ. Put on the Lord Jesus’ thoughts. Put on his actions, put on his love. This was a constant theme for Paul: you are in Christ, nothing is going to change that, now BE who you already ARE.
It isn’t something you work up on your own power. It is saying yes to the one who first said yes to you. It is returning love to the one who first loved you.
Then Paul, through the presence and power of Jesus in him, coaches, encourages, prods, and pokes them to transform into the image of Christ by imitating Christ as they walk in relationship with him.
It reminds me of the scene in The Shack where Jesus and the main character, Mack, walk on water. At first, Mack is tentative, even holding onto Jesus, and then together they vigorously run across the lake. When they are preparing to return, Mack presses his foot against the water’s surface and Jesus glances over and says this powerful phrase “It always works better when we do it together, don’t you think?”
Later, Jesus adds to the conversation, “If you try to live this without me, without the ongoing dialogue of us sharing this journey together it will be like trying to walk on the water by yourself, you can’t! And when you try, however well-intentioned, you’re going to sink.”
How can we continue the ongoing dialogue in our friendship with Jesus? How can we imitate him and begin to see transformation in our daily lives? Start by seeing others as God’s beloved and yield to the Spirit’s encouragement to always respond in love. Then watch a change happen in your own life. What habits, addictions, and unkind behavior are being healed as you ‘put on Christ’?
It is in the daily walk and relationship with Jesus that we are formed. May you enjoy your walk with Jesus today and every day forward. And don’t try walking on water without him.
Presented by Greg Williams
About the presenter:
Word of Life each Sunday is taken from ‘Speaking of Life’, (https://www.gci.org/videos/media-speaking-of-life/), a public resource video
on the USA website of Grace Communion International. Greg Williams is
President of Grace Communion International and lives in North Carolina, USA.
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