The Orchard Christian Church

The Orchard Christian Church__________ "where Fruit of the Spirit grows"____________________________ north Montebello ______________ Matthew & Kumi Perri

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Growing in the image of Christ

The nursery school version of the Bible often divides the characters into three groups - the heroes (Paul, King David, Moses), the well-meaning fools (Peter, King Solomon, Jonah), and the villains (Judas, King Saul, Pharaoh). The unspoken underlying idea that is hammered into the heads of Christian children is that we should “be like the heroes.” Some older people make lists categorizing all the Kings of Israel and Judah into “good kings” and “bad kings”. And scholars continue with this unspoken idea.

I’ve heard of a book (but never read it) entitled “Missionary methods: The Apostle Paul’s or ours?” The answer to the question in that title is “none of the above.” I don’t doubt the sincerity, scholarship, or salvation of the author of such a book, and it probably has some useful insights. But the underlying premise is that that “Paul was our perfect model" and that can tend to take the focus off Jesus. Years after becoming a Christian leader, Paul wrote this to Timothy:

"Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life. Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen. [1 Timothy 1:15-17]

Paul circumcised Timothy in direct disobedience to what he was repeatedly teaching, and Paul was very publicly rebuked for it, in front of Timothy, Luke, and many other leaders. [Acts 21:25] Paul spoke to Timothy in the present tense- he did not say "I was", he said “I am" the worst of sinners. As a Pharisee, Paul may have had trouble being real about his own sin in a more public setting. But Timothy knew very personally and intimately about Paul's sin, and so in this letter to Timothy, Paul drops all pretense, and he just gives all the glory to God- and we should do the same. God uses imperfect messengers (to deliver his perfect message), like Paul, and me, and you. When we are born again, we have newness of life, but none of us instantly become sinless "supermen"- we have to work out our salvation, with fear and trembling sometimes, but we can trust and rely 100% on our heavenly Father, in the name of Jesus, in the power of the Holy Spirit at work in us.

Missionary methods- God’s or man’s? That is the question we must ask ourselves, and as Christians, the answer clearly should be GOD’S. We want to know Christ and be conformed to His image by the power of the Holy Spirit at work in us. We want to be like Jesus- all others fall far short in comparison. We want God’s way, not our own human way. We want to bring glory to God, not ourselves or any other mortal man who ever lived, not even imperfect “heroes” like King David or the Apostle Paul, even though the scriptures written by their hands are inerrant and apply to everyone including them. Our frequent daily readings and prayerful meditations on the inerrant 66 Books of the Word of God should connect us to the living Word made Flesh, our model for life, Jesus Christ.


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