'Christ in You...'
by Dale Krebbs
Two or three years ago I installed a painted picture as wallpaper on this computer. When I first saw it, it seemed so striking and beautiful, with a somewhat mysterious aura about it. A dirt road broad at the base and narrowing as it bent gently to the left and disappeared into a beautiful forest of vegetation. Indented into the road as it wound around are a set of single wagon tracks that finally disappeared along with the road into the forest - only one set of tracks, in this lonely but beautiful setting, going only one way, with no return set of tracks. The lighting, the colors, and the setting were riveting. For me at least, it was a sermon - or several sermons! The implications were obvious. It speaks volumes - and I listen - often.
Almost every day in our world I am reminded of just how few indeed travel the "road less traveled" that we as God's children have chosen to travel. Most do not know the road is there, except through the dim reflections which we give them in our lives. Most, it seems, do not wish to make the sharp turn required.
As we move on down our road as Christians, there is another road along beside the main road that is even less traveled than the one road of living our lives God's way. Actually they are one and the same, although unfortunately all too often they have not been perceived as only the one road.
In the book of Acts, God's people often referred to the Gospel message as "the way" or "that way". Within this "Way" is another road that is also "less traveled"...some feel that there is no necessity to travel this road at all, and some do not know that it is there. This road has a specific destination, and the name of the road could be the same as its destination. In Matthew 5:48 Jesus states that we must be perfect as the Father in heaven is perfect. The word "perfect" does mean maturity, however maturity as God is mature is still perfect, or perfection. God's plan is to make us perfect, and as God does all things perfectly, He uses something else He created to accomplish it - time! Not only does he make use of time to bring us to perfection, but He uses what should be the most evident of all - US! In fact, the gospel of Jesus Christ could be described as the work of God and mankind to bring mankind to perfection as God as perfect. Why, after we come to faith in Jesus, are we not just taken immediately to heaven? Is it that God just likes to toy with the little clay models He has created until they come down with some fatal disease, or die in some other way before it is all over? God does nothing in vain. ALL has purpose. There is divine method to what some might call madness.
The amazing and sublime truth of what is going on is almost to wonderful to believe or to grasp - we are to partake of and have built into US the DIVINE NATURE OF GOD HIMSELF! I hope you will pause and just let this sink in for a moment...
But HOW can this EVER BE?
Thankfully, we are not left to our own devices. It is a cooperative project involving the Holy Spirit, us, and time. We are given very explicit "one, two, three..." instructions in God's Word:
 his own glory and excellence,  4 by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. 5 For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue,  and virtue with knowledge, 6 and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, 7 and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. 8 For if these qualities  are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. 10 Therefore, brothers,  be all the more diligent to make your calling and election sure, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. 11For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ." (2 Peter 1:3-11)
Making every effort implies there is something that WE must do. This is the "us" part of the equation. It is evident then that this takes TIME. Now we can see the real reason we, in most instances, are required to continue our lives after coming to faith in Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord of our lives. Maturing takes TIME. Character takes TIME. Perfection of something as imperfect us we are, takes TIME. It has been said that there is only ONE THING that God cannot create by fiat - and that is CHARACTER. This is what Lucifer did not have when he rebelled against his Creator.(Isaiah 14:12-15) This is what Adam and Eve did not have YET when they disbelieved and then disobeyed their Creator.
The Christian life is not a life of just coasting until time runs out for us. We have been called to CHANGE. We have been called to OVERCOME.(Revelation 21:7) We have been called to GROW more and more INTO the image of God. (2 Corinthians 3:17-18) As we can see from Peter's outline of this process, one virtue is built upon another - somewhat like a pyramid. A building must have a sure FOUNDATION. Without a sure foundation, the superstructure will eventually collapse upon itself. There is only that one sure Foundation! (1 Corinthians 3:10-12) Along with Jesus in the foundation of our new creation in Jesus Christ are the Apostles, through their words recorded in the Bible.(Ephesians 2:19-22)
As we travel down this new road to perfection, there are potholes here and there. There are obstacles along this Way. One is that we can just STOP MOVING! Many have done this, it is sad to say. They, for many, many reasons perhaps, just say in effect, enough is enough - "I have grown enough. I am satisfied with what I have" This is possible to do, but there may be a great disappointment coming. (Luke 19:26) But it has been this writer's observation that even among those in leadership positions there is the leaven of stasis - congregations become stagnant, unmoving and in some cases unmovable, on the road to the divine nature, character, and maturity. The Apostle Paul seems to refer to this condition in writing to the churches. (Hebrews 5:11; 6:1-3)
It is not possible to quote or even to enumerate in this article the many references from the New Testament that bear directly upon this process of becoming mature Christians. It constitutes virtually the whole purpose for the church, the "body of Christ". (Ephesians 4:11-16) The process of building a new creation while on this new road is described throughout Paul's letters in particular. The image of the "old man" and the "new man" describe this same transformation leading to completeness of the very character and nature of God. (Ephesians 4:22-24)
Now the words of Jesus in His prayer for His disciples on that last night of His life in the flesh can have more meaning:
"I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, 23 I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. 24Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. 25 O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me. 26 I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them." (John 17:20-26)
On this road less traveled, there are not only potholes, and rough places. There are also exits, and side roads. There are also those who have turned around and are meeting you coming back. Some may try to discourage you. One in particular that seems to be invisible will call out to your heart and mind saying, "Its no use - you will never make it. You think its a rough road where you are now, just wait - I've been there...". Or perhaps for you the road is entitled the same as Robert Frost's poem "The Path Less Taken" - maybe you have never started down this road. The "on ramps are EVERYWHERE, and anytime...
Are you on this "road less traveled"?
"Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few."- Matthew 7:13-14
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