This is part three of the series, how many parts there will be I don’t know. But, it’s fun just to continue to write though I’m confident the subject will never be exhausted.
My desire is to find, Scripturally, what a Christ follower is and what one isn’t. I’m positive that I’m growing in my understanding that what we in the American Christian culture call Christianity, in ways, does not measure up to what Jesus would call it. So, I continue my pursuit to find out what Jesus wants me to be, in Him.
I preached a sermon last Sunday from the book of Ephesians, and the text in chapter 4 brought me to what I think is a pretty major conclusion. (My text was Ephesians 4:17-24)
The point that jumps out at me the most is when Paul writes to, “put on the new self” in verse 24. This after a lot of language explaining that our old life, old thoughts, old drives and old wisdom are worthless for the pursuit of this new life in Christ. Worse than that, the old life is actually a major rub, a stark contrast, against the new, Spiritual life.
Here’s the problem. Widely in Christianity, and I think in my own life too, we’ve reduced our faith in Christ to learning a set of principles and trying to apply or live up to them.
Please know this truth. Jesus cannot be reduced down to a set of rules to follow or reduced down to some kind of philosophical salve that’s used as a momentary relief to the pain of life. He’s much more than that! Christianity that defines itself as a new principle to learn and then to apply which continues like the instructions on the back of the shampoo bottle; lather, rinse and repeat, is a painful substitute for real faith and a true relationship with Christ.
So what is Paul’s “put on the new life?” He speaks of this “putting on” also in Romans “But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.” (Romans 13:14)
Paul’s statement isn’t that we would have Jesus as a proverbial monkey on our back but that we’d have the connection to Him that He desires. In my estimation, Paul’s “put on Jesus” is equivalent to Jesus’ “I am the Vine, you are the branches.” (See John 15:1-5) The key to this new life is not leaning and applying new principles, it’s simply about abiding in the Vine; in Jesus. That is the very thing Jesus said we must do. He never said, “learn and apply principles from my word,” He said, “Abide in me!”
What is a Christian?
A Christian is not someone who is trying learn something about Jesus that my help out in this life, though learning Jesus’ principles certainly do. A Christian is a person who is learning Jesus and learning by the Word and by His Spirit how to truly, fully abide in Him.