My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.
We know that we have come to know him if we keep his commands. Whoever says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person. But if anyone obeys his word, love for God is truly made complete in them. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did. (New International Version)
Jesus is our advocate, the one who speaks on our behalf, our mediator, who stands in the gap between heaven and earth, standing-up for us when we have no leg to stand on.
Christ has atoned for all our sin, guilt, and shame through his “propitiation” which means that his death satisfied all demands of justice and put to rest the sin issue once for all through his blood. Christ’s gracious intervention has saved us from ourselves.
Jesus Christ has made it possible for us to experience forgiveness, restoration, and new life. Whenever we are so broken and so full of tears that we cannot even speak words at all, Jesus steps in and speaks on our behalf with words that mean something because they have been backed up with the action of the cross.
“But” as the late Ron Popeil used to say on the old commercials, “that’s not all!” Not only do we have deliverance from sin, death, and hell, Christ’s followers have both the means and the opportunity to give back and be a blessing to one another and the world. The Spirit enables us to obey God’s commands and is the continuing presence of Jesus to us and on this earth.
Christians are called to be little advocates, practicing the ministry of coming alongside and interceding for one another before God. We can agents of spiritual healing in a world of brokenness. Our gospel proclamation, a message of grace and forgiveness, gets to the very root of human problems and travails.
- Anyone who harms and hurts others as a matter of habit in the name of Christ, and does not heal, is no follower of Jesus but is a victimizer.
- Any person who talks a good talk, and walks a bad walk, is not living as Jesus did, and is a spiritual pettifogger.
- Anybody who claims the name of Christ and avoids reading and studying and praying over the New Testament Gospels, is a slovenly lout, no matter whether they have prayed a “sinners prayer.”
Whoever claims to live for Christ must live as Jesus did. So, how did Jesus live?
“You know that the rulers of the non-Jewish people love to show their power over the people. And their important leaders love to use all their authority. But it should not be that way among you. Whoever wants to become great among you must serve the rest of you like a servant. Whoever wants to become first among you must serve the rest of you like a slave. In the same way, the Son of Man did not come to be served. He came to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many people.” (Matthew 20:25-28, NCV)
“You call me Teacher and Lord—and you are right, for that is what I am. So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you.” (John 13:13-15, NRSV)
Adopt the attitude that was in Christ Jesus:
Though he was in the form of God,
he did not consider being equal with God something to exploit.
But he emptied himself
by taking the form of a slave
and by becoming like human beings.
When he found himself in the form of a human,
he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death,
even death on a cross. (Philippians 2:5-8, CEB)
But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.
“He committed no sin,
and no deceit was found in his mouth.”
When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. (1 Peter 2:20-23, NIV)
Christians inhabit unlovely places for the purpose of putting sacrificial love there. This is what it means to live as Jesus did.
O Lord, you have taught us that without love whatever we do is worth nothing. Send your Holy Spirit and pour into my heart your greatest gift, which is the love of God in Christ, the true source of healing and the real bond of peace. Amen.