Shared Values

 
 
I am the youngest of four kids, and because of that reality I had to follow my siblings in school and have the same teachers they had.  I can tell you that I heard this statement more than once:  “Why can’t you be more like your sister?” and “Why aren’t you like your brother?”  I often had this icky feeling in school that I somehow fell short because I wasn’t like them.
 
            Our task as Christians is to imitate Christ – not try and impersonateothers by being someone we are not.  God has created each of us uniquely and has gathered us together in his church.  So, we need to strive to be the best particular person we are in imitating Jesus by means of who God designed us to be, and learn to work together in the church appreciating one another as we seek to follow Christ.
 
            We are to imitate Christ through embracing a biblical set of relational values (Philippians 2:1-2).  It is shared values, not smooth sailing, which keep a group of people together.  If we have experienced encouragement, comfort, fellowship, tenderness, and compassion then we need to remember and recognize this and pass those collective values on.  None of these ideals occur in isolation; they happen because God mediates his blessings to us through other people.  In other words, we owe to others what God has done through others for us. 
 
            These common relational experiences occur as we participate in the life of our triune God.  The values that undergird our relational dynamic in the church come from the perfect relationship that occurs within God himself as Father, Son, and Spirit.  As we spend time with God and are filled-up with him, the love and grace of God spills-over in our dealings with others.  This is not a matter of will-power; rather, it is a matter of spending time with God because we as people tend to imitate those we hang around. 
 
            If we hang out with people who are always complaining, we are going to continually be grumps who never get anything done.  But if we hang out with people who are always praying, we are going to have a value of constantly connecting with God and interceding for others.  If we hang out with people who are never happy, we are going to have a pessimistic outlook on church ministry.  But if we make it a regular practice to hang out with Jesus, we will imitate Christ’s values of humble service and a gentle attitude.  If we hang out with people who are encouraging, loving, tender, and compassionate, we are going to emulate those same biblical mores.
 
            My sister was the valedictorian of her class; I didn’t follow in her steps.  My brother was the kind of compliant kid that teachers envied to have in their classes; I think my teachers wondered if we were from the same family.  My other sister was friends with her teachers and they all enjoyed her; I remember getting a lot of sighs and eye-rolling from my teachers.  Eventually, I gave my life completely to Jesus Christ my senior year of high school.  I found my identity in Jesus.  I discovered I didn’t have to be like anyone else because God used me for who I was, right where I was, learning to imitate Jesus. 
 

 

We are not to be worried or discouraged about how far short we fall before our fellow brothers and sisters in the faith.  Instead, we are to be concerned about how God wants to fulfill all his good promises and purposes in us and through our shared values because at the name of Jesus every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord to the glory of God.  We are to pass on to others every good value we have in Jesus Christ.  May it be so.

The Christian and Self-Worth

  
 
            One of the things that we must be clear about when it comes to living the Christian life is that God has made provision for the believer’s daily life to glorify him so that we may be successful in doing his will.  Toothless and ineffective Christians are persons whom do not know the truth about themselves.  Both truth and error are powerful.  If we think wrongly about who we are as Christians, we are like empty wells with no water to draw from.  Many of our problems, failures, and sins are largely due to our misunderstanding of the kind of person we are.  A profound result of this misunderstanding is a lack of self-worth.  When we are in error about who we really are, there is much limitation to what we can do in our lives.  We can neither solve the problem by comparing ourselves with others nor by trying to generate good feelings about ourselves.  Only through accepting what the Holy Scriptures say about us, and responding in faith, can we be truly helped.
 
            An important bedrock truth that we must understand about ourselves as believers in Jesus is that the Christian has been created in the image and likeness of God (Genesis 1:16-17).  We can only begin to understand ourselves if we begin with creation.  Since God is a Person of infinite perfection and goodness, to be created in his image means we are persons of great potential and value.
 
            To be a person means that we are self-conscious and can make decisions. We also have inherent rights to know, to be heard, to feel, to have an opinion, to be honored, to develop potential, to assume responsibility, and to enjoy life and all creation.  In other words, God himself treats us as persons; therefore, we may not treat ourselves any less than that.
 
            God created us to know him, to understand spiritual truth and perform spiritual functions.  Because we are created by God, we are sacred individuals.  We commit a profound sin when we do not develop our potential and live as though life and fulfillment were graciously given by God for our good.  When we accept erroneous thoughts about ourselves (and we all have) then we almost always use that error to misinterpret our circumstances, relationships and opportunities.  Without even realizing it we bring confusion and failure into many if not all areas of our life.
 
            One of the clearest evidences that we do not know, accept, and practice the biblical truth of our self-worth is seen in our response to God’s Word.  Too often we read the Bible’s promises and say, “I can’t be like that!”  Or we read the Scripture’s commands and say, “I can’t do that!”  When we live that kind of unbelief and error in our lives the result is too often discouragement and/or criticism of others who seem to be successful in their Christian lives.
 
            Let’s get some genuine spiritual truth down deep in our bones:  the Christian has been and is loved by God(John 15:9; 17:23).  To be loved by God means that God recognizes us as persons, gives us our rightful place in his life, and will do what is right by us.  In other words, God has our back.  We must accept this truth.
 
            The Christian has been called to live in fellowship with God (1 Corinthians 1:9).  No greater honor could be bestowed on us than to be invited to interact with the Living God.  As we do, the door is open so God can minister to us and lead us into the knowledge and practice of his will.
 
            The Christian has been given divine revelation (Hebrews 1:1-3).  Having the Holy Scriptures available to us is the greatest possession we could ever receive.  There is nothing more powerful than the truth about God and his desires for our daily life.  Therefore, we commit a profound sin when we neglect and disobey what God has so graciously given us.
 
            The Christian has been made the object of divine redemption (Romans 5:8-9).  The great evidence of our human worth is the reality that Jesus Christ has secured our redemption from sin to himself.  Jesus, the Son of God, has loved us and gave himself for us (Galatians 2:20).
 
            The Christian has been made the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).  The actual physical temple of the Old Testament was filled with the glory of God.  Today, through Christ’s redeeming love on the cross, every believer in Jesus is God’s temple.  Therefore, God wants to work in us and through us for his glory and honor.
 

 

            The conclusion to the matter is that the only way we will know true self-worth is to accept what the Bible says about us and respond by faith and love to its loving and redeeming message.  You are a person of infinite worth to God, so live into this wonderful truth.  May it be so.