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What is Being "Christlike?"


  • What is Being "Christlike?"

    Someone recently asked if remaining silent about things like homosexuality and atheism is not more "Christlike" than speaking out against them--just love them, and be silent about what is displeasing to God. In that regard, we might ask if Jesus Himself--the very embodiment of God's love--was silent about the dangers of hell. Did His message not declare eternal judgment the final estate of those failing to repent and seek after the kingdom of God? Did He not warn His hearers that they would perish if they did not repent? (Luke 13:1-5) Did He not relate numerous parables contrasting the fate of the godly with the ungodly? Is warning the unsaved about the approaching day of judgment "unloving" and "judgmental?" Or does it in fact, exemplify love by demonstrating a genuine concern for the eternal state of the lost--effectively putting our profession of faith into action?

    We are told by the Apostle Peter that Noah was a "preacher of righteousness." The entire time the ark was under construction, Noah undoubtedly warned those around him without ceasing, that judgment was coming. It did not matter whether a person was sexually immoral, a drunkard, or anything else. He preached righteousness. Obviously, no one but Noah's family believed his message, since no one else was aboard the ark the day the flood came. Yet, still Noah preached. At the appointed time, God Himself shut the door of the ark--and the opportunity for salvation was over.

    Jesus said that the period preceding His return will be just like that. There will be a warning about the coming wrath of God, with ample opportunity for people to be saved. Those who believe will be saved, and those who do not, will perish. The day the Lord returns will be a day of deliverance and joy for the saints, but a day of wrath and terror for the unsaved. Yet, all will have the same opportunity because of the Gospel message. The matter of eternity hangs in the balance, and there are only two options: the everlasting kingdom of God, and the lake of fire. We are entrusted with a lamp with which to illuminate the path to God, that others might be saved. To hide it under a basket is to be a selfish, disobedient steward of the Lord.

    Which truly demonstrates love for the lost: gently warning that the day of wrath is coming, and that Jesus can save them, or remaining silent because we don't want to appear judgmental? Is it worse to be wrongly thought of as being judgmental, or to allow the judgment of God to fall on a person without ever having opened our mouths? The OT prophets were men of God, sent to warn His errant people to repent, or suffer judgment. The prophets did not simply walk among their people, hoping their godly lifestyle would influence them. Rather, they spoke against the immorality and corruption that was angering God. The error of Jonah should serve as an object lesson about being a reluctant witness for God. Spiritually, the plight of the modern world is no different than in times past. It matters not whether a person is an atheist, a homosexual, an unsaved heterosexual who believes in God, or anything else. All are lost without the blood of Jesus covering their sins. Many do not see the gravity and reality of the situation, and we must not be silent about it.

    If a neighbor was asleep at midnight--unaware that his house was on fire, any of us would immediately call 911, and then frantically beat loudly on the front door of the burning house for as long as it took to wake up the person and his family. We see danger, and we act. We do not worry that the disturbance might upset them. They might initially be perturbed at being awakened from a sound sleep, but when they become aware of the facts, they'll be glad someone stepped in and acted on their behalf, in order to prevent tragedy.

    If it would be wrong to ignore the burning house, and act as if nothing's wrong, is it not even worse to see a lost person on the way to the fires of hell, and yet remain silent? Is the lake of fire not far worse than a house on fire? In neither case should we say, "Well, it's their life, and none of my business." How do we know that we are not the one witness God might use to touch an unsaved person's heart, and bring them to Jesus? If we try and fail, we failed doing what we are supposed to do. But if we never say anything at all, we fail God Himself. We are called to be witnesses, and a silent witness is effectively useless:

    For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. (Rom 10:13-17)

    It is neither un-Christlike nor unloving to share the Gospel with a lost person, regardless of who they are, or what their lifestyle or philosophy of life is. We are to share the light of the Gospel with a lost and dying world in whatever manner we are led by the Spirit of God. In the closing passages of the book of Revelation, we read these sobering words:

    "Let the one who does wrong continue to do wrong; let the vile person continue to be vile; let the one who does right continue to do right; and let the holy person continue to be holy.”
    “Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done. “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.” Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter by the gates into the city. Outside are the dogs and the sorcerers and the immoral persons and the murderers and the idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices lying.

    "I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star. The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost. (Rev 22:11-17)

    This invitation is extended to any and all who hear and accept it--with a clear warning that those who do not repent of sin and ungodliness will never be citizens of God's eternal city. And the invitation cannot be heard if it is not verbalized. The bride referred to in the passage is the body of believers--all of us. We are to open our mouths and extend that invitation to all, not simply stand by as people around us continue blindly down the path to the lake of fire. We must be both the light and salt of the earth we are called to be. We must live our testimony at all times, in both word and deed, that it retains its integrity. And we must always be prepared to share both the Gospel of the kingdom and the truth about heaven and hell, just as Jesus did, rather than remain silent, hoping someone approaches us. That's not what an invitation is. Being a faithful witness like Christ, dedicated to God and anchored in love, yet never compromising on the truth--that's how we become truly "Christlike."

    • Falconcheff
      Falconcheff commented
      Editing a comment
      I don't know if I recall a time when Jesus pointed out anyone's individual sin; as in, "What you're doing is bad..." I think if He were to go about doing that, He would have been avoided instead of being flocked to by the sinful masses. He preached repentance without mentioning specific sinfulness; and in that, many came to Him seeking forgiveness. Let's not forget Zaccheus... without saying a word to him, the presence of Jesus caused Zaccheus to confess his sinfulness and repent.

      That said, it should be important to make the distinction of whether you're talking about sinful behavior in the Church, or in the world. Paul admonished the churches all the time to point out, confront, and expel sinful behaviors of all specific kinds. If someone is a homosexual IN THE CHURCH, it should be immediately brought to the individual's attention that the behavior will not be tolerated (radical idea in today's church; commonplace in Paul's Epistles...)

      If someone is homosexual in the world, nothing but the Gospel is going to do him/her any good...

    • Brother Bernard
      Brother Bernard commented
      Editing a comment
      Re: Article: What is Being "Christlike?"

      I would like to add that so-called "in born" tendencies most generally ably to instinctive responses and physical attributes of the individual. To take the position that homosexuality is "in born" or genetic in nature falls short of scientific support. Homosexual urges are present with all of us, as are all sinful tendencies, thoughts, and even physical responses to some degree. However, as I am sure that most will agree, sin is not sin until we willfully give in to the temptations from without and within and practice them.

      Just saying,
      Brother Bernard

    • Brother Bernard
      Brother Bernard commented
      Editing a comment
      Greetings everyone,

      Allow me to say, on the point of "righteousness" and "Christ-likeness", that the majority of Christians appear to assume, without question, that "righteousness" in scripture pertains to "moral or ethical rightness". This is an error. We cannot live the sinlessness of Christ in this age. "Righteousness" meant, in biblical definition, ‘covenant membership’, with all the overtones of appropriate behavior (e.g. Phil. 1:11). The central biblical discussion of righteousness thus principally concerns membership in the covenant and the behavior appropriate to that membership. The two biblical settings of law court and covenant combine to produce the developed covenantal theology which underlay Judaism at the time of Jesus. To have ‘righteousness’ meant to belong to the covenant. To be declared righteous by faith meant to be given the covenant standing of Christ based on faith. We are declared members of God's covenantal family because of Christ's faithfulness. We share that covenantal standing with Christ by faith. "Christ-likeness" thus takes on the meaning of living within that covenantal status as far as it is humanly possible in this age. We stand, by faith, in the covenant community of God. It is a status that is transferred to us by virtue of Christ's life, death, and resurrection. Sinless - no! Faithful - yes!
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