How to be like Christ (part 4)
Paul picks this up in Romans Chapter 13. He says, "Don't owe anybody anything except love." And then he lists a bunch of commandments. He says, "Do not murder, do not kill, do not steal," and any other commandment he goes on to say is summed up in this saying, "You shall love your neighbor as you love yourself. Love does no wrong to a neighbor. Therefore, love is the fulfillment of the law." Jesus is saying, "You want to be a part of my school? Take my yoke and learn from me." Why? Because when we take his yoke upon, it's we are submitting to him. We are submitting to his ways. You know often we look at the word submit and we think of it as a dirty word. But, when we take his yoke upon us, we submit and it makes us powerful. The Greek would use a word submit and they would apply it to the training of a powerful stallion under its master control. The Preakness is going to run pretty soon and those horses are going to come around home stretch and you see the power of those horses. Why? Because they are under the control of the rider. And when Jesus says, "Take my yoke upon you" it's just that we are submitting to him, and does that mean that we become meek or weak? No. It means we become powerful in him because he says, "take my yoke upon you and learn from me. I am meek and lowly in heart and you will find rest for your souls." You become like Christ as you become more loving. So practical morality can best be evaluated by our meekness, by how we related to each other in love, which brings us full circle to Colossians, chapter 3. And there we see it. Since you died in your head with Christ in God, put to death these kinds of behaviors. Sexual immorality. Why? Because you are using somebody. It's not just about the sex; it's about your using somebody in the way that they were not designed to be used. How about impurity or lust or evil desires, greed, all these things. He said they are idolatry. And then He says that's just the beginning. In verse 8, He says, "But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these:" and he goes on and he says, anger, rage, malice, slander, filthy language, don't lie, don't pretend with each other. Other things are in this list like dishwasher compulsivity that leads to disharmony. Well, it's not on the list but he says now you must rid yourselves of all such things. All such things that cause us not to be yoked with Jesus Christ. It's not the stuff of glory. See love is the fulfillment of the law, a sign of renewal in Christ's image.
John Todd was a famous minister of the 1800's and he grew up in Vermont, but he lost both of his parents when he was six years old. And, since there were so many kids in the family, they didn't know what to do with all the children and so they found an aunt who said, "I will be happy to take John in." And so she became like a second mother or a surrogate mother. You know, let me just say this, parenthetically on Mother's Day. You know Mother's Day, I have learned through the course of my ministry can be a blessing or a curse. And, sometimes when pastors will preach long sermons about Mother's Day it can really make some people feel very much left out besides men. Okay? Women who have lost a child,women who don't have children or can't have children,women whose children are going in a direction that they don't want them to go. Mother's Day can be tough, and maybe it's tough for you, I don't know. But here's the thing. You can be a surrogate to somebody. You can be Christ to somebody. And that's what John Todd's aunt was to him.
She sent a slave whose name was Caesar, it's the early 1800's to pick John up and the slave came and got the little six-year-old guy, threw him on the back of the horse, and as they are going along this conversation takes place. John says, "Will she be there?" "Oh yes" said Caesar. "She will be they're waiting up for you." "Will I like living with her?" "My son, you have fallen into good hands." "Will she love me?" "She has a big heart." "Will I have my own room?" "Will I get a puppy?" "She's got everything set son. I think she has some surprises too." "Do you think she will go to bed before we get there?" "Oh, no. She will wait up for you. You will see when we get out of these woods. You will see her candle shining in the window." And that is exactly what happened. They got into the clearing and saw the candle. They saw his aunt standing in the doorway, welcomed him, brought him in, fed him, put him to bed in his own room. She welcomed him. John Todd became a minister of the gospel; a great minister of the gospel in the 1800's, but he grew up there in his surrogate Mom's home, his aunt's home, and all through his life it was always a matter of enchantment to him how much she did for him, how much she cared for him, how she just took him in the way she did. Well, later in her life her health was failing and he had moved away, and she wrote him a letter telling him of her failing health and impending death. He wanted to come and visit her, but in those days he had to send a letter ahead because he wanted to make sure that some communication got to her and this is what he wrote. He said,
"My dear aunt, years ago I left the house of death not knowing where I was to go, whether I was even going to make it or not, whether it was the end of me, whether anybody cared. The ride was long but Caesar encouraged me and finally he pointed out your candle to me and there we were in the yard and you embraced me, and you took me into my own room that you had made up. After all these years, I still can't believe it, how you did all that for me? I was expected. I felt safe. You gave me my place, my space. It was my room. And now he is using the analogy. He says, "Now, it is your turn to go. Believe me Auntie, as somebody who has experienced this, I am writing to let you know that your room is ready, the light is on, the door is open and as you ride into the yard, don't worry you are expected. I know. How do I know? Listen to what he said, "I once saw God standing in your doorway a long time ago."
You know, I don't know what troubles or trials or situations you are going through these days, there are so many people here that I don't know. But, I do know how God wants you to respond to it, what you are going through and I am confident that if you will, God will take whatever you are going through and use it as another step in conformity to the image of Jesus. How do you respond to it? Paul said it to the Philippians. "Have this mind in you which was also in Christ Jesus. Although he existed in the form of God, he didn't regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but he laid aside his rights and he took on the form of a servant." And then he goes on to say that He loved us to death. He loved us to death. If you will yoke with Him, and live in Christ like that, in your life people are going to look at you, see you standing the doorway and think, that doesn't really look like, that really looks more like God in the doorways of your life. Trust Him and He will make you more into his image. That is what discipleship is.
Let's pray. Dear Father, life makes so much more sense when we realize that it's not about our careers, it's not about our comfort. It's all about character and becoming like Jesus. Help us to use life for the reason that you gave it to us. Now, I want you to pray. If you would just pray this silently in your own mind and heart. Dear God, I want to grow in character. I want to become who you made me to be. Thank you for Jesus and his model. I want to become more like Him in the way I think, and the way I feel and the way I act. If that means taking me through troubles, then I say, I want your will for my life. And, if you have never opened your life to Jesus Christ, pray this prayer silently in your heart. Jesus, I cant' live like you unless I know you. So I want to get to know you today. As much as I know how, I want to ask you to come into my life and heart. In your name I pray. Amen.