Where have all of the nice Christians gone? I know they still exist. I have seen them. They stand out because of their constant cheerfulness, even in trying situations. They never have anything negative to say about anyone, including the growing online internet bashing and mocking of others (check out a typical Facebook feed). They always appear supportive of others and are known for their willingness to lend a helping hand.
Now when the Pharisee which had bidden him saw it, he spake within himself, saying, This man, if he were a prophet, would have known who and what manner of woman this is that toucheth him: for she is a sinner. Luke 7:39
I hear stories of their selfless acts of charity and kindness. It is astounding to hear the reports of families that have opened their homes to strangers who were in need. We’ve all seen the grieving parent who, by human standards, should hold hatred to someone who has injured or taken the life of their child, yet they manifest a forgiveness that can only be described as miraculous.
And when His disciples James and John saw this, they said, “Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them, just as Elijah did?” Luke 9:54
I know of stories of Christians who have with great sacrifice gone into remote and dangerous parts of this world to help bring relief to the suffering. They are also found on some of our own dangerous inner city streets laboring with the disenfranchised and forgotten. Their patience, sympathy and compassion shine as a bright beacon light showing the power of a true Christian lifestyle.
And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side. Luke 10:31-32
We all have so much to learn about living like Jesus. I admit that my actions have much too often been contrary to the examples left by Christ. We are shaped by our cultures and upbringing, and we have so much to unlearn. Even those who walked and talked with Christ on a daily basis were so slow to learn of the depth of His goodness and compassion.
The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. Luke 18:11
We live in an increasingly angry world. If ever there was a time when the softening influence of love demonstrated through the deeds and words of Christians is needed, it is now.
Here are a few Hit the Mark questions for this week’s lesson discussion:
- What does “living like Christ” mean to you?
- What is the process that God employs to change our hearts?
- What, if any, is the difference between a Christian and a person of good morals who makes no claim of Christianity?
- Is it realistic to expect a Christian to always speak and act like Christ? Why yes or no?
- Is it true that God is more concerned with your heart than any of your actions that might appear on the surface to be contrary to being Christ like? Explain your answer.
- Is the following statement True, Mostly True, Somewhat True or Not True: It would be easier to live like Christ if one is secluded from society such as being in a monastery. Explain your answer.
We close this week with the wise words of Paul written to the followers of Christ in Philippi:
If you’ve gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if his love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care— then do me a favor: Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand.
Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself. He had equal status with God but didn’t think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn’t claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death—and the worst kind of death at that—a crucifixion. Philippians 2:1-8 The Message
Until next week, let’s all continue to Hit the Mark in Sabbath School!