My discouragement came to a head tonight when I went to chat with some "Christian" friends. The topic of their discussion was Can a person be homosexual and still be a Christian? and "Do homosexuals go to heaven?" I sat in the discussion for a while, just listening, I knew better than to open my mouth because these are the same people who bash Catholics for being Catholic without knowing their doctrine.
Next thing I know I am being told "Look at Matthew 5:28! If they even think of someone with lust they have acted upon their sin!" First off, everyone has struggles. 1 Peter 4:12 even tells us "Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you." Peter himself tells us that trials and temptations will come against us. No where are we told that we won't be tempted. Even Matthew 6:13 says "And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil." Now if there wasn't going to be temptation, do you think Jesus would have taught us to pray that we would be delivered from temptation.
The sad thing is that as Christians, we forget that we have directives; one such directive is Ephesians 5:1 "So imitate Go. Follow Him, like adored children. (2) and live in love as the Anointed One loved you--so much that He gave Himself as a fragrant sacrifice, pleasing God.(Voice)" We are to imitate God! But how do we imitate God.
Matter of fact, it shouldn't even be a question-There is no question among orthodox Christians, i.e. those who believe and obey God's Word, who believe the catholic creeds, who have a substantial connection to the ancient church, whether Christians, ought to seek to imitate Christ. The questions we need to ask are: How do we imitate Christ and to what end do we imitate him?
The first thing we must realize, is that we are not born righteous. Our righteousness is through Christ Jesus. Jesus' faith and our faith are not equal, Jesus was born sinless, we are born in need of regeneration. God, the son, was born innocent, righteous and holy and holy not for himself but for us (pro nobis). Matter of fact, according to the Heidelberg Catechism, all of Jesus' righteousness (HC60) is credited to believers so that it is as if they themselves had done all that he did. In Christ, sola gratia, sola fide, it is as if we have never sinned or had any sin.
When we talk about our faith, we are talking about the faith of fallen, sinful, mere humans.So my question has become are we imitators of Christ or imposters? It reminds me of a story about a Bald Eagle, One day a turkey farmer happened upon an injured baby eagle in the woods. He took the baby eagle home and cared for it. He put the little eagle in his pen with this turkeys in hope that they would adopt and care for the little fella. Many months later a forest ranger happened by the turkey farmer's place and saw the eagle scratching and pecking the ground like all the other turkeys in the pen. He was amazed at how this great, majestic, wild bird could be so tame as to peck at the ground like a domesticated turkey. The moral of the story is that this eagle has become just like what it had seen.
The same is for Christians. We become exactly like what we see in front of us. The Webster's dictionary defines an impostor as "One who imposes upon others; a person who assumes a character or title not his own for the purpose of deception, a pretender and impersonator. There is a story that is told of Alexander the Great that one restless night he awoke from sleep and took a walk around his encampment. He happened upon a young man who was sleeping on guard duty. (The punishment for this “crime” was instant death.) Alexander woke the young man. The young man, aware of who it was stood before him, was terrified. Alexander asked the young soldier, “What’s your name?” The young man answered, “Alexander.” To which Alexander the Great answered, “Either change your name or change your conduct.”
So I have started to think, does Jesus, when He looks at us think, You need to either change your name or change your conduct?
Imitate according to Webster’s Dictionary means “to follow as a pattern, model or example; to copy or strive to copy in acts of manners. (to act like).
To imitate God, we must take Jesus as our model as we strive to live sacrificially for one another. That is our challenge, and it will take more than the rest of your life to live out that calling. If you call yourself a Christian and are not an imitator of Christ you have two choices: you either change your name or change your conduct.
John 15:4 says Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.
So my question has become when I look at those that call themselves Christians is are they abiding in Christ? Are they trying to imitate Christ? And more often than not, my conclusion is no. They are not abiding in Christ and they are not trying to abide in Christ.
And how can we condemn people, when John tells us that Christ didn't come to condemn the world? (John 3:17). Isaiah 43:25 tells us that God blots out sin and remembers it no more; so why do we feel the need to remember the sins of people?
I don't have the answers to the question; instead I think I am going to start focusing on becoming an imitator of Christ and not an imposter--one who has the look of godliness, but denies the power that can change them...even Timothy tells us to stay away from people like that. (2 Timothy 3:5)