Give Me That Mountain

God with Us

A Change of Mind. Day nine...

What if God just flew out of Heaven and landed on earth in His man costume? What if He then just walked around doing God things and finally ended the whole show by pretending to be in pain on a cross. (He was, after all, God. He could fake the whole thing and we wouldn't know the difference.)

Yes, I'm talking like a fool. But in practice, is our view of Jesus as He walked this earth so much different? I don't think so. I distinctly remember after my own salvation experience (at age 35) wondering, for several months, why people made such a big fuss about the agony of the Cross. I mean Jesus was God wasn't He? All He had to do was to say, “Pain, go away!”

theater stage

That was my first mistake, but not just mine.

Today, many Christians look at Jesus as God coming to earth dressed like a man, but acting so impossibly like God that we have absolutely no chance of imitating Him.

By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked. (1 John 2:5b‐6 ESV)

And we think, “How could we possibly walk in the same way Jesus walked if He went around acting like God and we go around acting like man?” So we give up on what appears to be a standard simply too difficult for even the super‐saints among us.

It was when I realized God came to earth not just “dressed” like a man, but in the likeness of man, that I made my second mistake.

I didn't understand the kind of “man” He was. I had never known any man other than the kind of man that I was—sometimes good, mostly bad. But Jesus was a different kind of man; unlike me, Jesus was without sin (see Hebrews 4:15). This, however, did not compute in my brain. How could Jesus be my example? How could a reprobate like I am ever live without sin like He did?

Both of these mindsets are extremely dangerous.

If we believe that Jesus walked around looking like man but acting as God then we cannot accept His life as our example.

Let's say, for instance, that I want to play basketball and I decide Lebron James is going to be my example. Other than having a different age, skin color, hair color, and body type—he sort of looks like me! So I develop the mindset that I'm supposed to play basketball just like LeBron. I set out to play just like him.

By the time I hit the court I am totally amped with confidence. I have spent so much time studying LeBron's example that I can perfectly visualize myself sailing through the air and slamming the ball through the hoop. But as I sail through the air with the ball heading toward the hoop a harsh reality hits me: I can barely jump to the top of a five‐gallon bucket set upside down on the floor. I might try a few more times but it won't be long before I give up.

LeBron might be my inspiration but he could never be my example, because I assume he has something that I just don't have.

With this mindset I will never consider the possibility LeBron could bring out talent and ability in me that I didn't realize I had. I will rely only on what is evident within me. I won't look for what he could impart to me or activate within me. And I will just give up and watch him play.

With this mindset, when I read: “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect (Matthew 5:48 NIV)” I think more about a Bible translation error than a real possibility. And I settle for the frustrating life of a poor old sinner trying to do the best I can until I get to Heaven.

The other mindset is to assume that Jesus, who came in the likeness of sinful flesh (see Romans 8:3), thought on the same level as we think but was just a better person about it.

And rather than allow Jesus to elevate our game, we drag Him down to our level. But that presents a couple of problems.

First of all, for those people who can't see any “God” in Jesus, He becomes the poster child for the tolerance of sin: “If Jesus was like me then He certainly sinned. But He wasn't called a sinner because He was such a good person. I am basically a good person so I shouldn't be called a sinner for what I do either.” And so the twisted logic goes.

Secondly, for those who see “God” in Jesus but believe He lived on the same level we do, He becomes the suffering Christ: “Jesus lived just like me but He didn't sin. What suffering He must have gone through to avoid sin and live such a holy life!”

Certainly Jesus suffered but it was by His choice. He didn't mope around feeling sorry for Himself in His struggle against sin. He didn't live with a reprobate mind like we have and somehow miraculously figure out how to have victory over sin in His life.

We have some instructions in this life that are simply impossible to carry out with either of these mindsets.

A couple of them come to my mind:

Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect (Matthew 5:48 NIV)

I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father. (John 14:12 NLT)

Jesus (God with us [see Matthew 1:23]) did not come to us as Superman. He came to us as a perfect man. Jesus (in the likeness of sinful flesh [see Romans 8:3]) did not come to us with a reprobate mind. He came to us with the mind of Christ.

Yes, Jesus came to us as sinful flesh, but He was not controlled by sinful flesh. He came to us as sinful flesh to not only free us for eternity but to free us right now.

But understanding how to take advantage of this opportunity is going to require a change of mind on our part.

Have a good day,
Mike

Image Credit: Christian Guthier

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