God’s basic purpose for our lives as Christians is to be “con-formed into the image of Christ.” (Romans 8:29) Why? So that we can then reflect His character and His image to others and bear godly “fruit” (good works). John 15:16 says, “I have chosen you and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit and that your fruit should remain.”
Reflecting Christ in our everyday lives and bearing godly “fruit” by the Holy Spirit is the key to revival. No words need to be shared, no Scriptures spoken and no principles taught. All that’s needed to convey the message of Christ (in the very beginning) is our life itself. Actions often do speak louder than words.
Being a true reflection of Christ is as important today as it was in the Old Testament. From Israel’s point of view, the purpose of Solomon’s Temple was to be a light and inspiration for all humanity, pointing the way to the Lord. Remember, it was the place where God met with His creation, the place that God dwelt among His people. This temple was built to manifest God’s glory—to show forth His presence. The temple sat on Mt. Moriah where God’s Glory could be seen for miles around. The windows of this temple were built in such a way as to capture the Light from God’s presence and funnel it out-ward. They were wider on the inside and narrower on the out-side in order to manifest the Shekinah Glory. They were called “closed windows” and they adorned both the Holy Place and the Vestibule.1 Solomon’s Temple was, at that time, a reflection of who God was and the soul and conscience for the whole world. (Exodus 25:8; 15:2)
Can you just imagine what a sight it must have been looking up at the temple from the city of Jerusalem and seeing God’s Shekinah Glory radiating out of every window? Scripture says, “a city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden,” (Matthew 5:14) and this Scripture certainly must have described Jerusalem at that time. 2 Chronicles 7:3 tells us that “when the chil-dren of Israel saw the glory of the Lord upon the house, they bowed themselves with their faces to the ground and worshiped the Lord.”
This is what God wants for each of us. We are the temple of God’s Holy Spirit now and He wants us to so radiate His glory that others are not only touched and inspired, but that they want what we have. How desperately our families, our children and friends need to see this kind of manifestation of God’s reality. If this occurred on a large scale, I believe it would revolutionize the church. God wants us to be mirrors of Christ’s image, revealing the light of His presence, His character and His nature in everything we do.
Matthew 5:16 exhorts us to, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”
Glorifying Him in ALL Things
It’s essential, therefore, that we reflect Christ in all that we do. By exhibiting His spirit, temper and character, we declare His glory, just as Jesus did. He gave the world an occasion to admire, love and obey the Father. We are to do the same!
We are to represent the Lord in our homes, with our families and in our businesses. Even in our recreation, the choice of our entertainment, the clothes we wear and the books we read, we need to mirror Him. And, the same thing should be evident in what we eat and in the health of our bodies. If we don’t, we are not only misrepresenting Him, we are actually dishonoring Him. (And as Chuck says, “...taking His Name in vain.”)
A Few Examples: When You Think They are Not Looking
Speaking about misrepresenting the Lord, we recently witnessed a pastor in a restaurant using foul language because his food wasn’t served on time. The poor waitress was humiliated and everyone around him was absolutely shocked. What kind of an impression of Christ did that pastor leave with that waitress and the others who heard his tirade? Who knows where those people were spiritually. Maybe they were really close to attending some church or going to some Bible Study or making some inner commitment to God. After hearing that outburst from a well-known pastor, what do you think they thought? One can only imagine!
In a similar incident, a young boy recently told me about an elder in his church who came into the video store where he worked and picked up several X-rated (not R-rated, but X-rated) movies. The boy said they weren’t rated X for violence, but for nudity. What did this incident say to this young boy? Matthew 23:3 tells us that there are those who say “don’t do this” and “don’t do that,” but they themselves do those things! What kind of a “living example” are we when we do these things? Rather than bring others to Christ, we push them away.
And finally, Chuck and I visited a church recently where we were not known. We were early so we took our seats and watched some of the people arrive. Their sad, joyless and depressed faces were startling. All of us have bad days occasion-ally—days where we don’t feel up to par—but this was different. Most of the people we saw had unhappy, gloomy and life-less faces that would be enough to turn any non-believer away. Non-believers need to see something in Christians that will make them want what we have. (They need to see that we have been with Jesus.) This church group certainly didn’t possess that glory. And, it made a huge impression on us, let alone what it must have done to the other newcomers who were there for the first time.
Unfortunately, non-believers form their opinions of the Lord by the lives and the temperaments of the Christians they see and know. Therefore, in a broad sense of the word, their opinions of Christ and their eternal future really depend upon our own lives and how we represent the Lord.2 Only when we put Him on display with our words and our deeds, is He glorified.
How does Scripture reveal that Jesus glorified God? John 17:4 tells us He glorified God by reflecting His character and by accomplishing the work that the Father had sent Him to do: “I have glorified Thee [reflected Your character] on the earth: I have finished the work which Thou hast given Me to do.” The “work” that Jesus was sent to do can be summed up in three words: a life of sacrifice, suffering and service. Again, we are to do the same. Our work, Romans 12:1-2 tells us, is to continually “present our bodies as living sacrifices.” And, when we do this—when we bar ourselves from following what we want, feel and desire—it often does cause suffering. It’s part and parcel of the “work.” But, when that obedience is accomplished, the result is service or bringing forth “fruit” by the Holy Spirit.
The Gospel of Matthew tells us that Jesus did not come to be served, but to serve. Jesus’ life was a life of serving. He constantly humbled Himself and gave of Himself. And He tells us we are to do the same: “whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister.” (Matthew 20:26-28) Just as Christ gave Himself for all of us on the Cross, He wants us to give our-selves to others by loving them and putting their will and desires above our own. If we truly want to glorify God and help to start a revival, then we must always have a servant’s attitude. We do not exist just for ourselves, but to fulfill the work God has given us to do and that involves the giving of ourselves for others.
As Christians, we will be constantly asked to give up (or sacrifice) our own desires, goals and dreams–to die to ourselves in order to live for others. As we said previously, this kind of life often includes suffering just as it did for Jesus.3 But, what’s amazing is that the higher we rise in being like Christ, the more we’ll want to serve others. This was Jesus’ heart and the more we let Him conform us into His image, the more it will become our heart also.
This attitude will allow us to genuinely reflect Christ in all we do, be the link to real revival in our own circle of friends and bring forth “fruit” that is well pleasing to the Lord.
To be continued next month: “Our Purpose as Christians.” This article has been excerpted in part from the book Reflections of His Image.