Redefining Our Reflection… (part 3)

I want to take a deeper look at what it means to be a true woman and a true man of God.  Now only can this help us reevaluate how we act, but it can also help us identify characteristics we should seek in others–especially if we intend on spending time with them or entering into a relationship with them.  We discussed our identities through salvation and the beauty God sees in us, but in order to redefine our reflections, we have to learn a little bit about how we should strive to carry ourselves.

An individual brought up a great point in the comment section of the last blog post.  This was a point I was planning on studying, in detail, later on, but I would like to touch on its relevance now, as well.  As humans, we are stuck in a bit of a predicament.  Because, in recognizing Jesus Christ as our Savior, our souls are sealed and protected.  We are emptied of ourselves and filled with the Holy Spirit.  However, we are still bound by our humanly flesh during our time here on earth.  And that flesh is ugly and riddled with temptation, lust, greed, and sin.  It is the “human” in us all–and it’s gross.  That’s what made Jesus Christ so phenomenal. He was a human being. He was bound by the same flesh we are bound by.  He felt all the same temptations, emotions, urges, desires.  But He STILL lived perfectly.  We must recognize that, for us, that is an impossibility. There is no way we can do it flawlessly. But, it is something we should STRIVE for–something we should live for, daily.  As Christians, we should work towards thinning that flesh so that His light can shine through us as brightly as possible.

With that being said, it is not enough for us to sit back and coast. To think, “Okay, I recognize that He’s real, I recognize what He did for me. But, I guess since I’m bound by this flesh and since He’s always going to forgive me, then it’s alright for me keep living how I’m living. I guess it’s alright for me to remain comfortable in sin. Because, this guy’s sin over here is far worse than my sin. I’m a good person, so I’m good to go.”

That mentality is so off-base.  It’s a mentality that I, myself, held for a long time.  That’s a very human thought process.  If this forgiveness is endlessly offered, then it is a human reaction to attempt to take that for granted.  To try to slide by. To compare ourselves to others and to weigh our sins. But that is so far from what’s real and true.  That mentality is so dangerous.  I know I functioned like that for a very long time.  And I can tell you now that, even though those thoughts still run through my mind occasionally, the Holy Spirit is convicting.  And if the Holy Spirit is truly living inside of your heart, you will feel the conviction of wrongful action.  Whether or not you show it on the surface, whether or not you express it, whether or not you even openly acknowledge it, you know where your heart stands.  You know when you are acting in flesh.

I told you this year would be convicting.  I refuse to sit back and say only what is going to “feel good” and make us all feel warm and comforted inside.  We have to be broken of our earthly mentality.  We have to be broken of our thought process that has been conditioned by this crappy society.  And in order to be broken, we have to be uncomfortable.  We have to reevaluate ourselves and be honest with ourselves.  If you are surrounded by people who constantly tell you that what you are doing is so wonderful and right and good, and you never stand eye-to-eye with someone who tells you that you could be better, and holds up the BIBLE as proof of the improvement you can make, then you will never grow.

If we are going to TRULY redefine our reflections and live for Christ, then we have to humble ourselves. We have to let down our guards and open our hearts.  We have to feel that conviction and RECOGNIZE it! Recognize that it may take a shot at your ego or your pride; that it may embarrass you or anger you or stir up your emotions. But there is BEAUTY in humility. There is BEAUTY in our scars. So let down your walls. I’m right here with you, doing the same.

Break through the flesh that is binding you down and strive for greatness.  We strive, daily, for advancement in our lives.  We strive for the starting spot on our athletic teams. We strive for the promotion at work.  We strive to make more money. We strive to be perceived as having the perfect family. We strive to be the most popular. We strive to be the most famous.  We strive to be the most attractive. We strive to be the biggest, the fastest, the strongest, the best. SO WHY DONT WE STRIVE FOR THAT SAME ADVANCEMENT IN OUR FAITH? What are we so ashamed of? What do we have to lose? A little ego? A little pride? Get real. Break down the barriers this society says we should build around “religion”.  Break down the perception you have of where “religion” should be kept on your schedule!

Being a Christian is not about just being in church on Sunday. Being a Christian is a 24-7, 365 day a year TRUTH.  Why are we suppressing Him? He is in fellowship, He is in bible study, He is in church, He is in the workplace, He is in our schools, He is at the dinner table, He is on the football field, He is at the bar, He is in the port-a-potty, He is in your car, He is in the airplane, He is in the homeless shelter, He is in the huts of the homeless, He is in the fields of the farmers, He is in the waves of the sea, He is EVERYWHERE! He is everywhere. Who are we to ignore Him? Who are we to try to stifle Him? All He wants is for us to see Him. And to love Him. And in return, He will love us more passionately and more fantastically than any other love we will ever know. He is waiting for us…He is waiting for you. Open your eyes and see Him. Then fall in love and break down your barriers and climb on top of the tallest platform you can find and PRAISE Him. NEVER be afraid to praise Him. Never stop praising Him.

Let’s step away from who we were. Let’s make ourselves so vulnerable that we are raw. Then let’s study Him. Let’s study the Word, and let’s figure out what it all means together.

I know I went off on a bit of a tangent today. I promise next post we will get back to the topic of being men and women for Christ. We will start really studying together.  I just really had all of that on my heart and had to let it pour out. I love you, and He loves you. Let’s be exceptional. Together, let’s learn…

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Redefining Our Reflection…(part 2)

Okay, we discussed the beauty God sees in us once we are filled with the Holy Spirit. We discussed that, in His eyes, we are literally emptied of ourselves and filled with His Son–and there is no greater beauty than that of Jesus’ Spirit. (Still mind-boggling to try to understand, but amazing!) So how does that define us? We know what we look like to God once we are Saved, but what does it look like to other people? How is that beauty reflected through us?

To put it in the most black and white terms, when we are truly filled with the Holy Spirit, and Jesus Christ literally lives inside of us, it is impossible for Him not to shine through us.  So the beauty that defines us and that others see, should truly be the beauty of Christ as well.

To sit here and say, “We must live our lives like Jesus Christ did…” would not only sound cliché, but it would also not even touch the tip of the iceberg when it comes to an explanation of the beauty we should host in our hearts.  1 John 3:18 does an amazing job of summarizing it in saying,

“Dear children, let us not simply love with words and tongue, but with action and in truth.”

If you look at the context of 1 John (not to be mistaken with the book of John) it addresses our salvation and clarifies what it means for us to truly be saved and for the Holy Spirit to live in us.  It also provides “evidence” of exactly what it looks like for Christ to live in someone’s heart. Evidence of the beauty that then shines through that person.  So, this particular verse, though not drowned in detail, says volumes.

A study of the Bible, or simply of the New Testament, for that matter, is a study that lasts a lifetime.  It is a study of the life of Jesus Christ and a guideline for how exactly we should strive to live our lives.  It is extensive and detailed and FILLED with unbelievable truths, but it takes patience to learn.  Each passage addresses a different concept, each book addresses a different pillar of our foundation in the faith.  We should strive to study the Word and mature in our walks daily…hourly…constantly.  But we must also understand that we will never learn it all. We will NEVER be able to do it all perfectly. Only He was capable of doing that. HOWEVER, the Bible also tells us that when we are filled with the Holy Spirit, we are filled with hunger, filled with comfort, filled with conviction. So, though it may be impossible to ever learn it ALL and apply it ALL constantly, when you are TRULY saved, that becomes your all-consuming objective.  That becomes your identity. That becomes your greatest goal. And THAT is the beauty that others see within us–the beauty that truly matters.

As Christians, if we are truly walking in the light, then not a single person should ever be able to cross our paths without clearly seeing that there is something different about us. I’m not simply talking about the people closest to you, I’m talking about everyone–I’m talking about our teammates, I’m talking about our fraternity brothers. I’m talking about the man you bumped carts with in the grocery store. I’m talking about our co-workers. I’m talking about the taxi driver you sat with for 5 minutes. I’m talking about your neighbor, your doctor, the janitor where you go to school. I’m talking about the one person you despise the most. The person that bullies you or torments you or makes you feel any less beautiful than you are. That person deserves, more than ANYONE, the opportunity to see that light through you. Because that light will affect them. No matter what. Whether it hits them now or it hits them 20 years from now, that light WILL change them. And you may be the only person in their life that has the opportunity to shine on them. (We will touch more on this concept later in the year, as well, so stay tuned!)

But THAT is the beauty we should search for in others and that is the beauty we should allow to shine through us.  It is not hard to see. At all. It is not some mystical element that you have to be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of.  This world would love to tell us that form of beauty is an illusion or reserved only for the “best” people. No, it is not visible on the surface of our skin, but it should pour from us the minute we open our mouths. The minute we move. The minute we smile.  That beauty is not the beauty this shallow world recognizes and, sadly, not a beauty that every person has recognized is within them yet. But it is a beauty that is contagious.  And it is a beauty that can only be spread through us. We are His vessels.

Step back. Take a look in the mirror. Take a very long look at yourself.

Do you find yourself beautiful?

(to be continued)

Redefining Our Reflection…(part 1)

Step back. Take a look in the mirror. Take a very long look at yourself.

Do you find yourself beautiful?

I don’t mean “beautiful” in the same sense that this world defines beauty. I am not talking about how groomed your hair is, how tan your skin is, how white your teeth are. I’m not talking about whether you are a size 2 or whether or not your clothes are expensive and new.  I’m not talking about your body type or even your smile. I’m talking about true beauty.

I am talking about the only type of beauty that God sees when He looks at us.  I’m talking about the most magnificent beauty–the beauty of our hearts and the beauty of our condition in Christ.  I am talking about the beauty of your soul as a true man or woman of God.  I’m talking about the type of beauty that this world is blind to, because it is not simply visible on the surface.  I’m talking about the type of beauty that people so easily disregard now-a-days. REAL beauty.

Before we can even begin to look at love and relationships, we have to redefine our own reflections in the mirror.  How can we be anything for anyone else, if we aren’t even aware of who we are for our King?  How can we enter into friendships, fellowship, and romantic relationships, if we don’t know our own identities? Too many people get lost that way. Lost and never found. We can’t be defined by any other identity than our identity in God.  Meaning, we aren’t defined by our athletics, we aren’t defined by our careers, we aren’t defined by our husbands or our wives or our children. We aren’t defined by our “roles”. We aren’t defined by our hardships, nor are we defined by our successes. Our identity is defined in Christ.

What, then, does that look like? What does our beauty look like to Him?  What does it look like to be a man or woman in Christ? That answer lies, most clearly, in the gospel.  In understanding our salvation, we can understand our beauty.

We discussed earlier that the way to salvation is through Jesus Christ. Plain and simple.  The belief in Him and the belief in the truth of His life, His death, and His resurrection.  The Bible clearly tells us that when we are truly saved–meaning, when we TRULY accept Jesus Christ into our hearts–then we are emptied of ourselves and filled with the Holy Spirit.  THAT is the true definition of the grace God shows us.  The Bible tells us that the moment we accept Christ into our lives, Christ literally lives inside of us.

Woah…take a moment to let that sink in.  Because that’s incredible.  You may be sitting there, staring at the computer screen, totally confused right now–so let me explain in the most basic of terms.  The book of John does a fantastic job of teaching us about our beauty because it teaches us about the Holy Spirit.

Imagine waking up every single day and not worrying about a single thing.  Not analyzing what you were going to be doing that day. Not living by a schedule or a plan–but simply waking up and following one man.  That is what Jesus’ disciples did for years.  They followed Jesus, with complete trust, through every step of every moment of every day.  Throughout His life, Jesus made it very clear to His disciples that He would die one day.  The disciples were really upset because they didn’t want Him to leave them. They didn’t want to be abandoned.  They placed so much dependency and faith in Him, that they didn’t know what they were going to do without Him. But Jesus was prepared for their reactions, and He made a promise to them (and to all of us).  He told them that, though His body would be gone, He would still be with them.  His spirit would live in them.  He may not PHYSICALLY be there with them any more, but He would never abandon them.  They believed in Him so, therefore, He would always dwell in them. THAT is the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit is Christ’s spirit inside of us……..wow. (I just did a fist pump thinking about how amazing He is! haha) Therefore, when we accept Jesus Christ into our hearts, it is not a one-sided deal.  We aren’t just making a sacrifice and giving, giving, giving…it’s an exchange.  In giving control to Him, He fills us with His spirit!

Can you even imagine? Can you even wrap your head around that? Incredible! When we accept Jesus into our hearts, we are completely filled by the Holy Spirit. We are drowned in Him.  Once we have accepted Christ into our lives, we are emptied of ourselves.  When God looks at you, He does not see YOU anymore. He sees Jesus Christ. He sees His son. What an unbelievably humbling concept. Can you believe you even have the honor of hosting such a spirit? But that is what He tells us.  That we are no longer ourselves. Rather, we carry Christ in us. Ah! No wonder it always feels so amazing! 🙂

To tie all of this back toward the beginning, ask yourself again what God sees when He looks at you.  Ask yourself again how beautiful you are. If you believe in Him, the answer is simple…He sees His Son! He sees the beauty of Jesus Christ! And THAT is the truest, most overwhelming, most humbling beauty that exists. You are SO beautiful. You are SO BEAUTIFUL. You have to believe that fact.  If He is living in you, you are SO unbelievably beautiful.  No matter your past, no matter your flaws, no matter your sins, you are beautiful in His eyes.

Now how does that beauty define us?…

(to be continued)