On a church bulletin recently I saw the words, ‘Living Like Jesus.’ Well good luck with that. There are Believers who think, if you try hard enough, you can. But they are mostly tortured souls. Or people who have set themselves a severely narrow version of righteousness. The truth is we can no more successfully ‘be like Jesus’ than we can keep the Ten Commandments. We are not even particularly good at ‘keeping close to Jesus.’ This is why in relation to God and to eternal life, Jesus is our life and we are not. It’s why Jesus has taken steps to us. It’s why Christ in us becomes us so that we are the fruit of His Vine and not disembodied grapes on the ground. This is called the vicarious humanity of Christ and what Paul preached as Christ our life.
There is however a way in which we can emulate Jesus that is not so ‘worksy.’ Jesus lived out of His Father and not out of the law. By agreeing that Jesus is our life we can live out of Jesus just as Jesus lived out of His Father. In doing so we and our Father are one. Jesus is less our example and more our life by incarnation and at-one-ment. We have become the manifestation of Him.
CHRIST INSTEAD OF US
As a little boy or little girl you may have believed that pleasing Jesus was ‘being good.’ There’s a bit in that. But not a lot. We can have very formulaic versions of ‘goodness.’ Some may seize on one observance and stick to that, believing they are ‘covered.’ Others may have six boxes ticked. Or others may have what many have – a Christian version of the knowledge of good and evil. But what all of us need is Christ as our life.
Jesus did not come to help us do the law. He came to be our life in every possible way.
WE ARE WHAT WE BELIEVE
There are miser’s who have an excellent bank balance but they are not wealthy because they live from a poverty mentality. In the Kingdom we can be a peasant or a king.
DISINHERITED BY RELIGION
Our inheritance as Believers is abundance in the Spirit. Some folks don’t make a thing of it but overflow with kindness, grace and a love of life. Joe Weesmical (not his real name) considered himself a ‘professional gooder’ yet he was what he was - a pinched and pedantic expression of his own fundamentalist version of goodness.
DISENHERITED BY ONE’S FAITH
Joe was pretty much absorbed in a Christian version of trivial pursuit. Some are actually deformed by their religion. One of the worst deformations may be seen in users of the appellation, ‘God Fearing’ which can be code for Pharisaic behavior and bigotry.
When Christ is our life and He has come in our flesh we become the expression of Him – without religiosity and without the baggage of a barely concealed smugness. One might wonder how many parents have driven their children away from God by the view of God they exemplified. What does God look like? He is Jesus Christ. Where does He live? In heaven and in you – when invited. Paul wrote
‘When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory’ Col 3.4 NIV. God’s glory is to be Himself and your glory is to be you today, wherever you happen to be.
A STATE OF BEING
As we get older, we may learn that pleasing Jesus has a lot to do with who we are. Paul got to the point with this and declared that who we are is the answer to the question, ‘Who is our life? He urged that Christ be our life because by the Spirit He infuses our being with Himself and we take on His nature.
You really can take on the divine nature if you adopt the new and living way of the Spirit that is simply Jesus as you. In Galatians Paul warns that who we are is who we choose. In Choosing Christ’s gospel of the Kingdom we are sons of the Free Woman living in our inheritance of spirit-life. Confined in the law we are workers and slaves because we have refused our inheritance and decided for religion. As sons of the slave woman we cannot represent the Kingdom of God.
JESUS LEFT HIMSELF TO BE US
Just so we know, Christianity as religion, is not necessarily Christ your life. He did not leave behind a religion. He deposited and multiplied Himself in us by the Holy Spirit. The law of the spirit of life is Jesus in you and in us all. Not Moses re-furbished or the knowledge of good and evil extended with Jesus’ help. Make sure you are absorbed and carried along in His gospel and not some invention of your own or in some version of institutionalism.
‘On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you’ John 14.20.
The big deal of the new testament age is that Jesus lives in us and becomes our life. We become the actual expression of Him. Miss that and you have missed it all and have nothing.
‘I say this because many deceivers, who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh, have gone out into the world. Any such person is the deceiver and the antichrist’ 2 John 1.7 NIV.
The new covenant means that you are in Christ. That He is in you and that your flesh is a representation of His Spirit. There is no reversion to lists and precepts in the new testament age, no commodifying of righteousness or sacralisation of times and places or dietary rules. Only Christ by the Spirit as your life in increasing measure. The holiness of God is in you and where you are. So don’t be persuaded by reductionist teaching and revisionist gospels. Live from these aberrations and you will suffocate His life. Stephen Crosby observes,
“For Paul the essence of the Gospel, the good tidings, is the indwelling Christ. It is the most vital and fundamental factor in Christianity: Christ liveth in me. For Paul this is more than doctrinal. It is experiential. It is not just that Christ lives (the elemental revelation of Evangelicalism) - as glorious as that is - but that He lives in the believer: a real Person, a real Power, a real Intelligence, possessing all the knowledge and attributes of God lives within the believer.” (1)
Recently I wrote of the alchemists. They attempt to turn base metal into gold. The Christian alchemist is contained in the law and a performance mentality and attempts to turn dead flesh into life. Live in the truth of who Jesus is for you and you will become who you really are and who you were always meant to be. Live as an alchemist mixing up concoctions of the flesh as the way to live and you are prolonging the fall in yourself and denying yourself the infinite life that is yours while inhibiting the fullness of the Kingdom in others.
Gregory Boyd writes, “Our central job is not to solve the world’s problems. Our job is to draw our entire life from Christ and manifest that life to others. Nothing could be simpler—and nothing could be more challenging.”
(1) Crosby, Stephen. The New Testament Prophet: Understanding the Mind, Temperament, and Calling (Kindle Locations 1347-1352). . Kindle Edition.