Saturday, September 4, 2010

Those who drink from the fountain

The Bible describes a true follower of Jesus Christ as a certain kind of person - that is, a person with certain distinct and recognizable qualities.

We saw last week how those who have chosen the cistern are and act. These folks tend to be:
- Greedy,
- Easily angered,
- Envious of others,
- Quick to argue, and
- Not completely honest.
- They talk about people behind their backs.
- They break their promises (with or without a good excuse).
- They do whatever they want because it feels good.
- And, they not only do these things, but demand that others accept them just the way they are.

This week we will look at the people who made the other choice.

A person who has given himself entirely to God, who has decided to be a disciple of Christ (not just a camp-follower), and who knows the eternal danger of cisterns will have (at least) these seven characteristics:

1. Love
This includes other closely related virtues like compassion, generosity, kindness, care for others who can give nothing back.

2. Joy
No one's giddy every moment, but the presence of God provides a deep, solid, beyond-natural joy that flows constantly under the surface, and now and then breaks out like a . . . fountain. Even when she is sad, the true disciple rejoices deep down over what God has promised to those who love Him. Paul calls it rejoicing in hope.

3. Peace
The peace of a disciple includes trust, submission, and the total relaxation of complete surrender. This peace manifests most beautifully as a quiet confidence when things are going badly.

4. The urge to tell others about Christ
We don't see this much today, and I don't know why. Just compare the average American believer with any believer described in the New Testament, and you'll notice the lack. It seems our greatest urge is to avoid telling about Christ. We have to be bribed or goaded into it. It makes you wonder what's happened to us.

5. Righteousness
This is doing, saying, thinking, feeling, believing what is right. We've discussed this one before, and it means nothing more than doing the right thing at the right time for the right reason. (And God gets to define what's right.)

6. Holiness
For the longest time, I thought that holiness was the same thing as righteousness. But it's not. Holiness means separation, submission, a dedication of all the heart, mind, soul and body to God. It will necessary include right living, but holiness itself is about consciously removing yourself from the world, wresting control of yourself from your self, and living fully conscious that you belong to God.

7. Willingness to suffer or sacrifice for the sake of God's glory
No potential consequence of being any of the above means anything to you. You would rather share your faith and lose your job than stay silent. You would rather give all your possessions to feed the poor than eat yourself. This is the capstone to all the others, and for obvious reasons, it makes showing them possible.

Now the question becomes: What if you know without doubt that you have been born again by faith in Christ, but these seven qualities do not perfectly describe you?

I've been struggling with exactly that question in my own life recently. Next week I'll share what little answer I've been given so far.