“For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son.” Romans 8:29
“That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death.” Philippians 3:10
Very few people would deny that our culture has been deteriorating largely because those who call themselves Christians have become lax in their walk with the Lord. When we look in the scriptures to see where we have fallen it is no surprise really – as Americans we love comfort, and following Christ is not only uncomfortable… it demands our spiritual (and sometimes physical) deaths.
Our example for living is only Christ – as He lived so we must live. We must follow Him in His obedience and humility, in His love and His uprightness, and in His sufferings and death.
If we desire to be like the Man of Sorrows, we must be people of sorrows. If we wish to be like the Sacrificial Lamb, we must be sacrificial lambs. If we want to be like Him who died for those who hated Him, we must die for those who hate us. There is no other option. We cannot be like the Man who took the nails and thorns and never feel the nails and thorns ourselves!
How can you follow Christ who died and be yourselves un-crucified?
We are clay in the Potter’s hand. When clay is molded, it is pressed and forcibly shaped to the desire of the potter. We are living sacrifices. A sacrifice is killed, cut into pieces and set on fire. We cannot expect to follow Christ and remain unchanged and painless.
If you claim Christ is your master – is He master of your leisure time? Is He master of your Internet surfing? Is He master of your bank account? What about your thoughts?
Do you long for Him “like the deer pants for the brook”, or do you relegate Him to morning devotions and Sundays?
Men, are you doing whatever it takes to uproot the tangle of lust that so easily digs its way into a man’s heart? Wives, is He master over your attitude towards your husbands?
Is He master over your Constitutional rights? Your freedom of speech that can so quickly make way for un-Christlike reviling? Is He master over your attitude towards homosexual people? Is He master over your political views?
If you claim Christ is your master – Is He master over your attitude towards those who persecute you? You will be persecuted for your faith. Christ was persecuted, and if you wish to be like Him do not be surprised when you are persecuted, beaten, stripped of your earthly rights and freedoms, publicly humiliated, personally offended, and crucified.
These are the marks of following Christ. Blessing God for allowing us to love those who hate us. Blessing God for the opportunity to share in the sufferings of Christ. Blessing God for causing us to lose faith in man and run back to Christ. Blessing these tools that God has used to make us like Christ.
If we cannot bless the Lord for the confused and hateful young men and women who ask us to celebrate their homosexuality and the opportunity to share His love with them, how can we expect to bless the Lord for the man who puts us to death physically and speeds our way to glory? This is how we are salt and light!
Persecution doesn’t mean we’re losing. Persecution is both a sign that the world is reacting to Christ in us and an opportunity to affect our culture for Christ. When they see the way we handle the world’s hatred they won’t be able to ignore how different the people of God are from themselves. When they see this difference, that though we strive to be light, we don’t fight in the same way the world fights, our gospel message will be all the more effective.
We may live in a free country, but Christians are not free. We are servants of the Lord. Christ is our King. What He does, we do. Where He goes, we follow. Who He loves, we love. Who He lays down His rights and dies for, we do the same.
"To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in His steps!" 1 Peter 2:21