2016 February 27. True-City 2: Apprentices Cultivating Jesus’ Character.
Saturday at the TrueCity Hamilton conference continued the theme of being an apprentice learning from the Master, Jesus. If I want to learn from the Master, I have to become like him.
The main speaker, Chris Schoon, pastor of First Christian Reformed Church in Hamilton, reminded us that God says in 1 John 2:2-6: “anyone who claims to be intimate with God ought to live the same kind of life Jesus lived.” There is grace in that: I don’t have to be like other people, only like Jesus. Chris Schoon gave us three snapshots that show how we can cultivate the character of Jesus in ourselves. Mind you, this does not happen overnight but it is a journey I have begun and will carry on to the end of my life. I’m on a life-long pilgrimage.
Scene 1: Dying and Rising with Jesus. Philippians 2 tells us to have the same mindset as Jesus did. Jesus was the highest in the universe, equal with God, but he did not hang on to that position for his own selfish purposes. He lowered himself to become human, submitted to John’s baptism, spoke to people in the dregs of society, and even let himself be put to death on a cross. Because of that, God raised him to become the ruler of all things. During his life on earth, he gave signs of this new life in raising Jairus’ daughter and Lazarus and healing many. In the same way, I need to be humble and show that I have become new person in Christ by bringing grace and healing and reconciliation in my relationships and my sphere of influence.
Scene 2: Abundance in Community. In Ephesians 4:1-16, God tells us that we are not alone. In fact, all of his people form one unity, one body, in which each of us plays a role. We become like Jesus when we show in our actions that we belong together and we find the full measure of this when we work together in service. Even Jesus did not work alone. He got twelve apprentices (disciples) to learn his ways and help him. He even took three of them along to the Mount of Transfiguration, the high point of his life on earth, and to Gethsemane, the lowest point. Our unity is based on being conformed to Christ, not being uniformly like each other; each one of us retains our uniqueness. “Each person is a once-in-eternity expression of God’s love and faithfulness to the rest of God’s creation.” We can experience this unity best when we join with people different from us, as in True City and in welcoming the “others” who are not “like” us.
Scene 3: Jesus Love Lives Among Us. 1 John 4:9-17 tells us that God loved us so much that he gave us Jesus; that’s why we should love each other. That is the evidence that God lives in us. In fact, “his love [for the world] is made complete in us.” When we become like him in this world, then we will have confidence on the day of judgment.
Then Chris left me with two questions: (1) How am I doing in growing to be like Jesus, and (2) am I willing to live with the right and the responsibility to love others as Jesus loved me. That’s where my apprenticeship to the Master is meant to lead me.
By God’s grace, I’ll get there.
P.S. You can learn more about Chris Schoon from his blog at http://christopherjschoon.com/