When Jesus commissioned his disciples to go into all the world and preach the good news of forgiveness of sins through faith in Him, knowing our hearts, he knew that our acts of faithful witness would always be mixed with other, more or less frequent, acts of un-faithful failure. Our duty as servants, he knew, we may often leave un-done. This first of three brief posts on the theme of service comes from C S Lewis…
C S Lewis writes…. “Thy will be done…. at first I took (this) exclusively as an act of submission, attempting to do with it what Our Lord did in Gethsemane, I thought of God’s will purely as something that would come upon me, something of which I should be the patient. And I also thought of it as a will which would be embodied in pains and disappointments. Not, to be sure, that I suppose God’s will for me to consist entirely of disagreeables. But I thought it was only the disagreeables that called for this preliminary submission – the agreeables could look after themselves for the present. When they turned up, one could give thanks….This interpretation is, I expect, the commonest…
But at other times other meanings can be added. So I added one more…. ‘Thy will be done.’ But a great deal of it is to be done by God’s creatures; including me. The petition, then, is not merely that I may patiently suffer God’s will but also that I may vigorously do it. I must be an agent as well as a patient. I am asking that I may be enabled to do it. In the long run I am asking to be given ‘the same mind which was also in Christ’. Taken this way, I find the words have a more regular daily application. For there isn’t always – or we don’t always have reason to suspect that there is – some great affliction looming in the near future, but there are always duties to be done; usually, for me, neglected duties to be caught up with, ‘Thy will be done – by me – now’ brings one back to brass tacks.
From C S Lewis in Prayer: Letters to Malcolm
We are, rightly, never to preach, talk, or sing, about God’s love for us (or our love for Him) without focusing on the Cross of Christ. His sacrifice is the measure of His love for us and the motivation of our love for Him. If, some day(s), we are called upon to die for love of Christ or for love of our neighbor (these may be the same thing) it will only be by the gracious work of Christ’s Holy Spirit in us that we may ever hope to emulate Him. This third brief post on the theme of Christlikeness comes from Charles Spurgeon…
“For to me to live is Christ…”
Philippians 1:21 ESV
“The believer did not always live to Christ. He began to do so when God the Holy Spirit convinced him of sin, and when by grace he was brought to see the dying Saviour making a propitiation for his guilt. From the moment of the new and celestial birth the man begins to live to Christ. Jesus is to believers the one pearl of great price, for whom we are willing to part with all that we have. He has so completely won our (heart) that it beats alone for him; to his glory we would live, and in defence of his gospel we would die; he is the pattern of our life, and the model after which we would sculpture our character. Paul’s words mean more than most men think; they imply that the aim and end of his life was Christ… his life itself was Jesus. In the words of an ancient saint, he did eat, and drink, and sleep eternal life. Jesus was his very breath, the soul of his soul, the heart of his heart, the life of his life. Can you say, as a professing Christian, that you live up to this idea? Can you honestly say that for you to live is Christ? Your business – are you doing it for Christ? Is it not done for self-aggrandizement and for family advantage? Do you ask, “Is that a mean reason?” For the Christian it is. He professes to live for Christ; how can he live for another object without committing a spiritual adultery? Many there are who carry out this principle in some measure; but who is there that dare say that he hath lived wholly for Christ as the apostle did? Yet, this alone is the true life of a Christian – its source, its sustenance, its fashion, its end, all gathered up in one (Name) – Christ Jesus. Lord, accept me; I here present myself, praying to live only in thee and to thee. Let me be as the bullock which stands between the plough and the altar, to work or to be sacrificed; and let my motto be, “Ready for either.”
From C H Spurgeon in Morning and Evening
Of course, if I am to really become more like Christ, it’s not enough for me to think that I can put on Christ, at worst, like a mask, or, at best, like my very own super-hero suit. “He must increase, but I must decrease“, said John the Baptist and so it is with any disciple. This second brief post on the theme of Christlikeness comes from John Piper.
“Draw near to God and he will draw near to you.” James 4:8 ESV
“This verse means that there is a precious experience of peace and assurance and harmony and intimacy that is not unconditional. It depends on our not grieving the Spirit. It depends on our putting away bad habits. It depends on forsaking the petty inconsistencies of our Christian lives. It depends on our walking closely with God and aiming at the highest degree of holiness. If this is true, I fear that the unguarded reassurances today that God’s love is unconditional may stop people from doing the very things the Bible says they need to do in order to have the peace that they so desperately crave. In trying to give peace through “unconditionality” we may be cutting people off from the very remedy the Bible prescribes. Let us declare untiringly the good news that our justification is based on the worth of Christ’s obedience and sacrifice, not ours (Romans 5:19, “as through the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous”). But let us also declare the biblical truth that the enjoyment of that justification in its effect on our joy and confidence and power to grow in likeness to Jesus is conditioned on our actively forsaking sins and forsaking bad habits and mortifying lusts and pursuing intimacy with Christ, and not grieving the Spirit.”
This devotional is written by John Piper.
For more information about Piper’s ministry, writing, and books, visit DesiringGod.org.
‘Put on the Lord Jesus Christ’, Paul wrote to the Christians in Rome, and to us as well who find ourselves in Christ today; so we may discover for ourselves what it means to be filled from the inside out with His overflowing Life; and, at last, find a new appearance to properly match our new heart. This first of three brief posts on the theme of Christlikeness comes from C S Lewis…
C S Lewis wrote… “Very often the only way to get a quality in reality is to start behaving as if you had it already. That is why children’s games are so important. They are always pretending to be grown-ups, playing soldiers, playing shop. But all the time, they are hardening their muscles and sharpening their wits so that the pretence of being grown-up helps them to grow up in earnest.
Now, the moment you realise ‘Here I am, dressing up as Christ,’ it is extremely likely that you will see at once some way in which at that very moment the pretence could be made less of a pretence and more of a reality. You will find several things going on in your mind which would not be going on there if you were really a son of God. Well, stop them. Or you may realise that, instead of saying your prayers, you ought to be downstairs writing a letter, or helping your wife to wash up. Well, go and do it.”
C S Lewis in Mere Christianity