Updated: Nov 14, 2022
Matthew 5: 14-16
Let me follow up last week's 7-day Practical Faith Blog on Jesus' Course Correction to Us with a stimulating discussion and a moving story.
This past Sunday, I was leading a discussion in my home Sunday School class regarding Philippians 2: 1-11 and the topic of imitating Christ. The discussion turned to how we practically go about imitating Christ, and I remembered and quoted from the following words of noted Christian author George MacDonald:
Instead of asking yourself whether you believe or not, ask yourself whether you have this day done one thing because he said, Do it, or once abstained because he said, Do not do it. It is simply absurd to say you believe, or even want to believe in him, if you do not do anything he tells you. If you can think of nothing he ever said as having had an atom of influence on your doing or not doing, you have too good ground to consider yourself no disciple of his.
But you can begin at once to be a disciple of the Living One – by obeying him in the first thing you can think of in which you are not obeying him.
Wow. I love this line: "It is simply absurd to say you believe, or even want to believe in him, if you do not do anything he tells you." So much of my 7-day practical faith view is derived from thinking like this. Belief that becomes doing. Faith turned into action. Not just believing in Christ as your Savior, but following Christ as your holy guide to daily living, even when it rubs you the wrong way or feels uncomfortable.
I remember a time when my Grandmother Eunice had that moment of decision that MacDonald talks about. It was at the start of the AIDS epidemic, when its cause was unclear, except that people mainly knew of it at the time as a disease among homosexuals (although others had contracted it as well). It was Christmas. My aunt and uncle were both nurses in an AIDS ward. They identified that their patients had been ostracized by their families and had nowhere to go and no one to visit them for the holidays. They asked my grandmother if she would open up her home to these patients on Christmas Day for a party.
Grandmother Eunice was conservative in her thinking and would often argue scripture with you using the phrase, "Well, MY Bible says THIS!" But in the moment of decision, instead of judging these patients as others had, she softened her heart and loved them instead by accepting them into her home. That decision still brings tears to my eyes; I was never prouder of my grandmother than how she imitated Christ that day.
To me, what Jesus taught is a practical religion, a religion you can put into practice, not something solely for the hallowed halls of theological discussion or for a sanctuary setting, but something tangible, that has hands and feet, that shows up in the world. So much of what Jesus taught us has to do with daily life and how we treat other people in order that God may be glorified through our good works, as my grandmother glorified Him that Christmas Day.
Jesus said the same thing in Matthew 5: 14-16, using a couple of memorable analogies:
You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.
We agreed in my class that it is impossible to reach an equivalence of Christ, to be a perfect imitator, but that there is a lot we CAN do to imitate Christ. George MacDonald had a great idea: Start now, start today, start in your next decision. Obey His will rather than following your own path. That is how we imitate Christ. That is how we become the city on the hill, shining God's light to others.
I’m excited to announce my first webinar, “Five Ways to Get Closer to God during a Crisis.” The topic is fueled by principles from my book, The Next Thing: A Christian Model for Dealing with Crisis in Personal Life. The webinar is on Nov. 10 at 7 p.m. Central time.
To register, visit CecilTaylorMinistries.com, scroll down, and a registration box will be presented to you.