Unity in Diversity
These days, so many people want to change various things about their life, most often, with the hope that they will be happier and more fulfilled. You here it said in many different ways including phrases like “live true to yourself” or “listen to your heart”, maybe even some charge to “live as the person you were born to be”. We millennials will often parrot the phrase “YOLO” light-heartedly. As a 20-something-year-old living in post-modern America, these are things that I’ve had to wrestle with myself.
Does the world around me really have the most fulfilling things to offer? I’ve found that people so often try to change themselves, hoping for that maximum fulfillment, but the truth is that they only become more miserable. Sure, they may find a false sense of joy and be fulfilled for a time, but then are left wanting more. The prince of this world, the devil, is a clever deceiver and would love nothing more than to remain “under the radar”, not wanting you to believe he exists, so that you continue believing the lie that we have all the answers for our own happiness if we will only look deep enough within ourselves. God’s enemy would love nothing more than for you to believe that humanity maintains an unfettered sense of judgement.
By submitting to Jesus Christ, can anyone be truly changed for the better? I answer from experience that the answer is an emphatic “YES!!!” There is truly freedom in Christ. The world says you’re closeminded, the truth is you’ve never been freer in your life. The world says you’re not living according to your true self, while the truth is that only my knowing your creator, can you truly begin to understand why he made you the way you are. People are all different and have different struggles from their past life, but we are all striving for a life more conformed to the image of Christ. We serve a creative, infinitely diverse, holy God, and only in him can we explore our true self and who we were meant to be as a citizen of the Kingdom of Heaven.
Christian behavior is grounded in the Gospel, not ourselves, but does the Gospel always produce change in the lives of those who believe it? I would say yes, and that the Bible supports that. The Gospel of Jesus Christ will ALWAYS produce change in our lives.
Have you ever heard anyone say something like “my God wouldn’t do this or that” or “my God is ok with this or that”? If it’s not a biblical picture of who God is, then it’s a man-made concoction of our own imagination. It’s a dangerous place to be when we stop looking to God’s word for our standard of change and defer to our own judgement.
Throughout history, there have been many forms of false teaching, whether it be the addition to, or subtraction from the words of the Bible.
The Apostle Paul was dealing with false teachings in the first century church at Ephesus, in modern day Turkey. After correcting their understanding of the biblical law, Paul gives an account of his own testimony, effectively demonstrating the effect of the true Gospel.
What does the Bible say that true change looks like? After reading, studying, and meditating on 1 Timothy 1:12-17 I’ve identified a few characteristics of the Gospel, as well as what a genuine response to that truth looks like, as it is reflected in our lives.
“I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service…” (v. 12)
Our salvation and the strength required to live the right way are sourced in Jesus Christ.
–>This removes any grounds for our boasting in any strength of our own.
–>Gives confidence when proclaiming God’s word. If people reject and/or ridicule you, they are not ridiculing you if you’re just the messenger.
“…though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.” (v. 13-15)
We recognize that our past life was deserving of God’s full wrath, but we are recipients of his mercy. There is nothing too bad or evil, that Jesus cannot save us from if we are willing to put our faith in Him.
–>There is nothing we have to do to “clean ourselves up” before coming to Christ (Again, that would imply that there is some effort on our part for our salvation, and thus, cheapens the immeasurable price that God paid to redeem us.). However, God does call us to a changed life after we know him. All Christians are called to become less like our former broken self and more conformed to the image of Jesus Christ. This is going to mean drastic change in all of us.
“But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life.” (v. 16)
Our purpose in being redeemed from our old life of sin, which leads to death, is to be transformed in such a way that we reflect the very character of Jesus Christ, for his purposes.
–>We are not saved so that we can continue to live in the same things that Jesus saved us from. Rather, we are to live as a Christian (i.e. follower of Christ). If we are following Christ and he never sinned, we should try to avoid sin at all costs. We will never perfectly succeed in our current physical state, but we should always be striving for perfection.
–>Being a Christian means seeking to know how God wishes to use us, in light of how he’s made us(giftings, personality, perspectives, etc.).
“To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.” (v. 17)
–> The effect of the true Gospel will always be a heart that praises the name of the one true God.
As a Christian, we are part of the body of Christ. We are a diverse body, serving a host of different functions and perspectives, while at the same time maintaining the unity that comes under the headship of Jesus Christ, as we all seek to be more like him. You’ll never find anything more diverse than the body of Christ – a plethora of backgrounds, yet all on the path to spiritual death, before the intervention of Jesus Christ; many professions, yet all striving to please Christ in their work; all nations/ languages, yet singing praises to the same God; young and old, yet all striving to grow in the knowledge of the Savior. Jesus Christ came to save the world. Those he redeems, are redeemed and changed for his purposes, which lead to life.