Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Do You Look Like The Church Or The World?

Throughout human history God has had a special people, separate from the crowds, that he calls his own. A remnant. A special people he has purchased, revealed himself to; a people with whom he is in covenant relationship.

These people undeservingly receive his grace and respond with faith. They are humbled by God's covenant love for them, and their lives are re-ordered with him as the focus. God calls his special, covenant people to be set-apart (sanctified) to himself. They have the particular privilege of representing God to the world, shining God's light, revealing God's ways, speaking God's words, announcing God's kingdom, and living God's character.

At heart, God's people are not driven by the things that drive people of the world. They are not consumed with the things that consume others. Their treasure is different. Their allegiances are different. They are different! God's people have a different mindset, worldview, ethic and hope; different values, affections and lifestyle. This is God's purpose in his people for his glory. He is jealous for them. He will fight for them. He will generously pour himself out in sacrifice for them. He gave his Son to die for their salvation!

And when they begin to look like the world, in love he will discipline them.

In the Old Testament this people was the nation of Israel. They were set apart from the other nations in order to reveal to them what God was like. Their ruler was God himself. God was in their midst; their lives were ordered around his worship, his Temple, his Law. But a day came when they wanted to be like the world.

Rather than being ruled by God himself, they asked for a king, "like all the nations" (1 Samuel 8:5, ESV). Like all the nations?!! The whole point was to NOT look like the other nations, but to show the other nations what God is like. But they wanted to be like the world. They were forfeiting their very purpose!

Did they forget the blessing and honor it was to be God's special, set-apart people?
Had God not declared to them his special, covenant love?
“For you are a people holy to the LORD your God. The LORD your God has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth. It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the LORD set his love on you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples, but it is because the LORD loves you and is keeping the oath that he swore to your fathers..." Deuteronomy 7:6-8a, ESV
What grace! Undeserved affection and kindness! God had not chosen them because of any good thing in themselves, but because of his own choice and grace ("because the LORD loves you..." He loves them because...he loves them!).

God forgave his people when they asked for a king. He even used this to bring to them king David, and through his line THE King of Kings - Jesus Christ the Son of God! Jesus died for his people to redeem them with his blood: "Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her" (Ephesians 5:25). Now Israel as a nation was no longer the covenant people of God. Now God began to include people from every nation under heaven! The gospel news is going forth to all peoples, and through this preached gospel God is gathering his special, covenant people, the church!

The church, like Israel, is called to be different from the world. God declares to us that we are not of this world (John 17:14) but are citizens of heaven (Philippians 3:20). God has predestined us to look like his Son, Jesus (Romans 8:29), not like the world system.

So, what about you?
Which do you look like, the church or the world? Jesus' people or the people who are living for this world?

Which has shaped you - how you think and feel and act and speak - Jesus and his word? Or your politics, your pride in country, pop culture, family traditions, religion, money, pleasure? What drives you? What do you communicate to others?

Whose are you?
Where do you belong? Do you belong to this world? Or does your fruit reveal that you are truly Christ's?

If you look and sound and smell like this world, there are only two options:
1. You are a truly believer who has drifted away from Christ toward the world. If this is true, the Father will discipline you in love (Hebrews 12:5-11), for he loses none of his sons. Or,
2. You are not truly a believer, and you will perish (1 John 2:15-17).

Why not repent right now? Come to the Father, through Jesus Christ. Look to the one who bore our sins at the cross and rose from the grave to make us his own special people. Confess your worldliness to Christ and ask him to transform you by the renewing of your mind (Romans 12:1-2). Ask him to change you from the inside out by his Spirit, until your affections, your drive, your purpose, your delight is in Christ.

What a privilege to be part of the special, covenant people of God!

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