Nov 15, 2011, 2:04 PM
It is hard to imagine how the Children of Israel could have seen themselves as ‘grasshoppers’ after God had led them miraculously through the Red Sea, had thrashed hostile nations by his mighty right hand in their favour as they headed towards the Promised Land, had been fed in the wilderness for 40 years having neither sown nor reaped --- all because they beheld giants when they went to spy Canaan.That could only happen when we fail to know who we truly are. Strangely enough, others will see us the way we see ourselves. This was the report they gave to Moses on their return from the reconnaissance trip: “The land we explored devours those living in it. All the people we saw there are of great size. We saw the Nephilim there (the descendants of the Anak come from Nephilim). We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same way to them.” (Numbers 13:32-33) Naturally, people will see us the way we see ourselves. The picture we paint of ourselves is the image we will portray to others.
The Bible teaches that we are ‘more than conquerors.’ The more we meditate on this image, the more we begin to see ourselves as God says we are. We are not only winners, we are more than that, all because God loves us and cares for us. Paul exhorts us to believe that nothing can separate us from the love of God. “Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?” None us these can influence the relationship we have with God - because we are ‘the apple of his eye.’ We are very precious to him.
When we call ourselves poor, we end up behaving like the poor and the world will treat us that way. The Bible teaches us that Christ gave it all up for us; “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for our sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.” (2 Corinthians 8:9) Usually, we measure wealth in terms of our worldly possessions – our bank accounts and real estate mostly. Our Lord Jesus declares riches to be the treasures we have stocked up in heaven. Why? Because this world will pass away (Luke 21:33), along with all that it stands for. We should therefore crave for heavenly riches; “Treasures in heaven where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:20-21)
The fragrance of life
“For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing.” (2 Corinthians 2:15) Whoever talks of aroma, talks of fragrance – a pleasant odour that can invade a whole room, unhindered. Any aroma will tell people about you, it is vocal; it comes out strong. When a dignitary walks into a room wearing an exclusive perfume, his entourage cannot help but take notice. That perfume’s aroma speaks volumes.
The Bible qualifies us as ‘the aroma of Christ,’ therefore in our daily encounter with the world we must portray Christ and reflect his very nature. People will acknowledge the Christ in us because we wear and portray his aroma. Just as he himself proclaimed, if you have seen me you have seen the Father (John 14:9); so also as we wear Christ’s aroma, others will see him in us.
We are one
In the early church, believers were being further labelled into subgroups: the circumcised or uncircumcised and it vexed Paul because such a label was discriminatory. This physical characteristic emerged because non-Jews (Gentiles) had accepted the faith. In the Jewish tradition, boys were circumcised on the eight day after birth, whilst with non-Jewish groups this practice was unknown.
In Christendom, there is neither Jew nor Greek; we are one under God’s banner of love. What binds us – and this is fundamental - is the faith we confess in the resurrected Christ. We therefore must do away with negative ‘exterior’ labels like these. The true qualities of a man or woman are ‘within.’ The intrinsic qualities of Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah distinguished them from the other youngsters whom king Nebuchadnezzar had selected for special training and incorporation in his service. “In every matter of wisdom and understanding about which the king questioned them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters in the whole kingdom.” (Daniel 1:19-20) This is the kind of label that befits a Christian in his community, in his workplace and in society in general. Features like circumcision do not run deep, for the most part they are superficial.
Christ’s letter read by everybody
In Paul’s second epistle to the Corinthians, chapter 3 verses 2 and 3, he addresses his readers thus: “You yourselves are our letter, written in our hearts, known and read by everybody. You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry.” Letters are written to be read. If we are Christ’s letters then others should be able to read those letters which will portray him. He adds that these letters are “written not in ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.” As open letters, we are to be read by all and sundry - all who are unsaved. In that way, the good news of salvation in Christ will spread throughout the world and humanity will have a real reason to live.
Again in his letter to the Ephesians, Paul writes; “For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight.” (Ephesians 1:4) Holiness defines God’s character and he requires us to be holy. Nothing unholy will stand in his presence. “Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.” (Hebrews 12:14)
Complete in Christ
We have a formidable profile defined for us by God in Christ Jesus. If this is the way God has defined his people, those who are called by his name, then we have an obligation to live by it. Never allow someone else call you by another name – names the world is quick to call us by. Someone once said that, ‘if we do not know who we are, we will allow circumstances and events to define us.’ It is capital that we have an identity and that is hidden in Christ.
Finally, we are complete, made whole, in Christ. “For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority.” (Colossians 2:10)
Let us begin to portray our true identity as defined by God our Creator himself!