One of the most exciting things about our relationship with God is that He does not leave us as we are but changes us by shaping our character to look more like His own. The Bible teaches us that our relationship with God through Christ ought to be one that is dynamic and vibrant, making us more and more like Christ.
In the opening verses of 1 John, the Apostle John tells us of a particular aspect of the nature of God when he writes, This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in Him there is no darkness at all (NIV).
“Light” is often used as a metaphor or illustration of holiness and righteousness, especially of God. “Darkness,” on the other hand, often illustrates sin and unrighteousness in the Bible. In effect, John is informing us that the major defining attribute of God is His holiness and righteousness and that there is no sin in His character or nature whatsoever. But does knowing this information actually prompt us to consider our own spiritual condition?
In verses 7-8 he writes, Dear friends, I am not writing you a new command but an old one, which you have had since the beginning. This old command is the message you have heard. Yet I am writing you a new command; its truth is seen in him and you, because the darkness is passing and the true light is already shining.
John seems to tell his readers that, even though they’ve heard this speech before, it should still be in the forefront of their minds, challenging them to change continuously.
The Apostle Paul echoed the same truth when he wrote: All over the world this Gospel is bearing fruit and growing, just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and understood God’s grace in all its truth (Colossians 1:6).
How does this work?
As we consider who we are in light of who He is, His holiness acts like a “light” in our lives by illuminating those aspects of our character that are unholy.
For example, God does not lie. But our knowledge of His honesty ought to prompt us to be truthful in all our dealings with others if we are not doing so already. The same can be said of other aspects of our personal lives.
How then do we change and become more like Christ? First, spend consistent quality time reading the Bible for the purpose of both understanding it and applying it to your life. Hebrews 4:12 describes the Word of God as “living and active” in our hearts, which should enable us to discern the difference between spiritual truths and our own emotions.
The second ingredient to a dynamic life in Christ is to spend time in prayer. It has been said that prayer is the “heavy artillery” of the Christian faith. Now, prayer is not asking God for our will to be done, but, rather, prayer occurs when we agree with God about what He wants to accomplish in our lives. As we discern what His will is by reading the Scriptures, our prayers ought to line up with the principles taught in the Bible. When they do, God steps in and works in connection with our requests to do what He wanted to accomplish all along.
However, it’s not enough to know who God is or even just to say a few prayers. We must also obey what He reveals. Tragically, there are those who profess to follow Christ, but, due to an attitude of disobedience to God or unbelief in God, they squander the precious time they have been given by not obeying Him. Whenever God speaks a word of correction, encouragement or direction, obey Him quickly and wisely.
Finally, loving and serving others will almost always become the result of our obedience to God. Often part of our obedience to Him involves serving others, whether they are believers or non-believers.
We have seen that the truth about Christ is something that should change us to the core. Knowing who Christ is and growing in His grace should be an ever-constant process in our hearts and minds.
Seek to grow in every area of your life the Lord challenges you to grow in. Joy and peace await you despite whatever difficulties may come your way in the meantime!
Allen can be reached at [email protected].