It was like a scene out of the "Twilight Zone".
It was a Wednesday night and church was going to be starting in twenty minutes. I pulled into the parking lot of Faith Baptist Church in Belleville, IL and there it was, right in the middle of the parking lot as if had been dropped from a Kansas tornado. A broken down, and dilapidated Winnebago motor home.
The motor home was literally right in the middle of the parking lot, so I went over and knocked on the door. The motor home swayed from side to side as someone inside rose to their feet and made their way to the door. I was speechless as this guy stooped to exit from the trailer and stand to full 6 foot 9 in the evening air.
It was Abe. Honest.
He stared down at me and then he spoke. "Greetings! Such lovely weather for a union with hardworking people here in the assembly of the Lord."
He introduced himself as a traveling Abraham Lincoln impersonator who was a tad (my word pun) early for an apparent Lincoln impersonators convention to be held in Springfield, IL.
I took full advantage of the situation to introduce myself as a John Wilkes Booth impersonator who by chance chose to attend the same gathering! "What are the odds of this Abe?" I asked, "You and I are going to be in the same building which ironically is a church that was built from a converted MOVIE THEATER!!!"
As I walked "Abe" inside I told him that would be sitting right behind him in the balcony if he needed anything, and told him how serious I took my re-enacting.
Needless to say, church was not the same seeing Abraham Lincoln siting there head and shoulders above the rest of the congregation. He stood out and not in a good way.
The run in that I had with Abraham Lincoln on that Wednesday night taught me something very important.
The world is full of impersonators.
People that will spend their entire life trying so hard to live the life of someone else. They will try to see life through another person's eyes and hear the world around them through another persons ears. Lincoln, Elvis, John Wayne, and even Jesus.
Yep, in fact I would say that there are more people who strive together to impersonate Jesus than any other person that ever lived. They really work hard to think, act, and talk like Jesus. the problem is that "They really work hard" to appear to be like Jesus.
For years I had read this passage and heard many sermons about it.
"I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God." ~Romans 12:1-2
I would read the word "Transformed" and always be amazed at that. How does one renew their mind?
I really wanted to be like Jesus. Christian means "Little Christ", and I had been told nearly my whole life a long list of things that I could do that would make me more "Godly" and things I could do that would make me "Un-Godly". The list changed according to who was giving the list out. Each person handing out the "Naughty & Nice" list had verses to back up why THEIR list was the gold standard that everything should be measured by.
The things that one person had on their "Ungodly" list were things another had as "quasi-godly" because it helped you to stay "Balanced" in your life. It was confusing because deep down inside I could not help but ask, "What does God say?"
It was a never ending rat race of trying to put on the proverbial Jesus garb in order to try to compete in a look-a-like contest with others who were doing the same. Did God really want me to try to work so hard to look like His Son or did God want me to look at the life of His Son as a template of what my life IN Him could be?
Jesus was deity that chose to operate on this earth in humanity.
He simply lived His life in complete surrender to the Father.
"For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me." ~John 6:38
"And I seek not mine own glory..." ~John 8:50
What does this word mean? It simply means to: Give something up to another person.
It can also mean: to relinquish something that has been granted to you. This could include your possessions, power, goals, and even your life.
Growing up I would hear about the "surrendered life", but I was not really sure what that meant. I assumed it was talking about getting on board with the most current "Naughty & Nice" list that the preacher presented in order to help me be more "Godly".
The surrendered life is simply the act of giving back to God the life that He has given you. It is giving God control over your direction, power, rights, and everything you do or say. It is resigning "You" over to "Him".
He simply lived His life in complete surrender to the Father.
It was that surrender that God wanted us to catch in the life of Jesus. We tend to make our own plans, goals and strategies on how to please the Father, and we wrap them in words that resemble a Jesus Costume. We are in fact "IMPERSONATORS", and so far from transformed we don't have a clue how to get there. Jesus was not about strategies, webinars, conferences and making plans on how to please the Father. He was about letting God work through Him as He pleased.
Ok Dan, but Jesus was God in the flesh. His life was surrendered before He even came to earth right?
The surrendered life is not imposed on anyone. Not even Jesus. Look at what He said about this and remember, Christ spoke these words as a flesh-and-blood man. After all, He came to earth to live, not as God, but as a man. He came to experience life just like you and I, and like us, He had a will of His own. He chose to fully surrender that will to the Father.
"Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father." ~John 10:17-18
Jesus was telling us, "Make no mistake. This act of self-surrender is totally within my power to do. I'm choosing to lay down my life, and I am not doing it because some man told me to. No one is taking my life from me. My Father gave me the right and the privilege to lay down my life. He also gave me the choice to pass up this cup and avoid the cross but I choose to do it out of love and full surrender to Him."
Our Heavenly Father has given us this same right: the privilege to choose a surrendered life. No one is forced to yield the control of their life to God.
When I saw this it rocked my socks! Conforming to the image of His son was not striving to impersonate Jesus. It was taking my gifts, talents, personality, and who I was and giving control of those things that made me who I was to God. It was not consciously trying to modify my behavior to fit another man's ideals of "Godly" or "Ungodly", but rather a surrender of me to God.
When I discovered this Truth, all of the sudden John 8:32 made perfect sense!
As I continued in His Word, He showed me this nugget!
"Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him." ~John 14:6-7
Now I had always been taught that this verse means, "Jesus is salvation." This statement of who Jesus is true, but this passage is rich with another meaning. Jesus was saying, "I am the way (Road). Two roads remember? One wide way that leads to destruction and one narrow way. The wide road is the road of religion. Me trying to perform to earn God's favor and love through my works. The narrow road is Jesus and my complete faith and trust in His finished work on Calvary.
The Truth. Jesus is Truth! (John 8:32) As I continue in Truth I am made free. Why? Christ enables me to now able to really live:
The Life! (Christ is not just the source of life, He is my life!) John 10:10 speaks about the ABUNDANT Life!
"Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil the word of God; Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints: To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:" ~Colossians 1:25-27
What was the Mystery that was hid? (God's Spirit that came to permanently live in me at salvation. Remember the Holy Spirit did not come until AFTER Christ ascended into heaven)
Here it is.
The Christ life is the indwelling Christ expressing Himself through me being myself surrendered to God.
God made you who you are. He gave you unique gifts, and talents and a personality that is special to you. He also gave you His Spirit (The Holy Spirit) at salvation. He is in you! He longs to express Himself through you being yourself.
The transformed life is really that simple!
Put away your costume makeup. The fake beard can go in the trash. Robes don't flatter you well.
The Transformed life is a whole lot better than the impersonated life!
Climbing with you,