I took this picture along a road that had been cut into the side of a hill, exposing the water table. Water flows down the man-made cliff face year round, and makes these beautiful icicles each winter. What really caught my eye this time around was the green shining through the ice!
When we make the choice to follow Christ, we are forgiven for all of the wrongs we’ve committed, and for all of the ways we’ve fallen short of God’s perfection. We are clean in the sight of God, and begin with a clean slate. That doesn’t mean that we turn into Cookie Cutter Christians!
There are times when we as Christ followers compare ourselves to others, and try to imitate who they are as a person instead of imitating the Christ we see in them. For example, Mrs. Jones always wears the nicest outfits to church, has her hair and nails done just so, and behaves most properly to everyone she meets. A brand new Christian may zero in on Mrs. Jones and try to be just like her, because she simply must be the standard to strive for! Or perhaps Mr. Johnson loves to fish so much that he’s able to weave fishing into every Bible lesson he teaches. Someone else may think that really good Christians fish, so they decide to begin fishing . . . just to be like Mr. Johnson.
Striving to grow in our faith and obedience is worth every ounce of effort we can give! But trying to become someone that God didn’t create us to be is worth no effort at all.
What would the church look like if it was only composed of many Mrs. Joneses and many Mr. Johnsons? First, b-o-r-i-n-g. Second, who would do all of the things that Mrs. Jones and Mr. Johnson can’t do? Perhaps neither one of them knows how to fix a running toilet, or get the furnace working properly, or how to change a diaper, or how to play a game with the kids, or how to mow the lawn, or how to welcome people into their home, or how to hold a conversation with someone new, or how to . . .
When we come to Christ, we bring our personalities, our skills, and our likes and dislikes. A good majority of those aspects of our selves are not inherently good or evil, they’re just a part of who we are. Gregarious or shy, musician or teacher, gardener or painter, chicken or fish, sweet or savory, none of these will make or break our salvation, and none is better or worse than another. Christ does not call us to imitate someone else, He calls us to become more and more like Him. What does that look like?
We are to live in love. “Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God.” (Ephesians 5:2 NLT) What is this love we should be living out? “Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-7)
We are to strive for humility and obedience. “You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross.” (Philippians 2:5-8 NLT)
We are to do good. “For God called you to do good, even if it means suffering, just as Christ suffered for you. He is your example, and you must follow in his steps.” (1 Peter 2:21)
We are to serve one another. “And since I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash each other’s feet. I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you.” (John 13:14-15)
As we follow the example of Christ, He uses who He created us to be for his purposes. We can follow each of these examples whether we’re extroverts or introverts, whether we get excited about sports or needlework, whether we love gardening or reading, and whether we love chocolate or vanilla.
I cannot offer anything to a conversation centered around car engines. My husband has tried countless times to explain how the thing works. Still, I only know that I turn the key, and it starts. How it runs remains a mystery. There’s something about gas and little explosions . . . ? Oh, and pistons and belts. Yep, that’s all I’ve got for you if you want to talk engines. That makes for a fairly short conversation. BUT if you want to talk animals, I’m all in! Talk engines, and my eyes glaze over. Talk animals, and they light up!
There are so many differences for us to celebrate, because each of those differences provides a means for us to reach out to others and meet them where they are. If you find that you’re not just like Mrs. Jones or Mr. Johnson, be glad! Don’t try to cover up who you are behind a fake mask. Just as the greenery shows through the ice, be a true representation of what Christ can do in a person surrendered to him. Be true to what He is calling you to. Be true to who He is calling you to be. The world needs the example of Jesus lived out in the you He created you to be!
What are three things God has given you in the arenas of interests, traits, or skills that you can use to reach out to others?