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Characteristics of Christ | PEACE

A 40 Day Journey to Becoming Like the One We Follow

Day 5: Peace (John 14:27)

Don’t we all want more peace in our lives? Peace of mind, a peaceful home, world peace. Sounds pretty good, huh?

We all want peace, but few people are willing to do the things that make for peace. The way the world makes peace is at the edge of a sword (or with the barrel of a gun). We “keep the peace” under threat of violence or swift punishment for those who disrupt the peace. And by “peace” we mean absence of conflict because everyone is forced to act and think the same way.

This is the way of Rome. The Pax Romana was the highest law in the Empire. Anyone who threatened the peace of Rome would end up being crushed by the might of Rome. One of their own poets even critiqued, “You make a desert and call it peace.”

Not so with Jesus. The angels announced “Peace on Earth” as he was born, but the world was far from peaceful. Jesus brought a peace that could stop the storms, drive out demons, feed the masses, and bring the dead to life again. The peace of Jesus was truly the Shalom, or wholeness, of God. It’s the kind of peace that eliminates conflict by turning enemies into brothers.

Jesus came to set the world right, not by conquering thrones and empires at the edge of a sword, but by conquering the forces of sin and death by giving his life on the cross. It’s a counterintuitive peace that defies understanding and logic. Yet there are those who may be called “peacemakers,” those who work for the things that lead to peace in this world.

May you come to know this Peace today. Rest in the knowledge that God is in control, and he cares for you.

Characteristics of Christ | JOY

A 40 Day Journey to Becoming Like the One We Follow

Day 4: Joy (John 15:11)

I like to imagine Jesus laughing. Some of his teachings are genuinely funny, witty, even sarcastic. Jesus partied. He went to weddings and celebrations and festivals and feasts. He hung out with all the wrong people – and those people usually have the best time.

I love the story of Jesus inviting the little children to come to him. He took time out of his day to bless the kids. He even told us that we should become like little children if we want to enter the kingdom of heaven.

You know what children have an abundance of? Joy.

They laugh and play and goof off for no reason and with no spurring them on. Fun and joy and excitement and laughter – these are all things that define childhood.

So what happened?

Somewhere along the way we lost our child-like wonder and joy. When we come across an adult who is genuinely joyful, we remember them, we want to be around them, we’re confused by them. But joy is the fruit of the Spirit living in us! Jesus wants all of us to be joyful as we follow him.

What steals our joy? Worry. Obligation. Fatigue. Stress. Fear.

Are any of those things prescribed by Jesus? Are any of those the result of a Spirit-filled life? Of course not! Let’s be intentional about living joyfully.

Smile more. Laugh more. Get on the floor and play with your kids. Rejoice in the Lord, for you are his child. We have every spiritual blessing and eternal life awaiting us.

So let’s party.

Characteristics of Christ | LOVE

A 40 Day Journey to Becoming Like the One We Follow

Day 3: Love (John 13:34-35)

The first Fruit of the Spirit in the life of a believer is Love. If we don’t love, then we’re nothing, says Paul. But love as a concept has gotten so watered down over the centuries. Everyone desires to love and be loved, but we can hardly define it. The literal dictionary definition of love is, “an intense feeling of deep affection.” But that hardly suffices to describe the connection between a husband and a wife or a parent and a child. Love is definitely “more than a feeling” – thank you, Boston.

Paul describes aspects of love – it’s patient, kind, not rude, not self-seeking, etc. John takes it a step further and flat out says, “God is love.” The reverse of that statement is not true, however. Love is not God. But God’s very nature is summed up in the word “Love.”

“The Lord–the Lord is a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger and abounding in faithful love and truth, maintaining love to a thousand generations…” (Exodus 34:6-7).

God’s ultimate demonstration of his own love is Jesus. It was love that lead Jesus to touch the leper, to defend the adulteress, to bless the children, to wash feet. It was love that lead him to the cross and held him there.

Our standard of love is no longer “whatever feels right in the moment.” Jesus is our standard for love. We are called to love one another as Christ has loved us. There is no greater love than laying down one’s life for one’s friends–Jesus even laid down his life for his enemies.

May we be so filled with the love of God through Christ that we can’t help but let it overflow to others. Because without that love, nothing else matters.

Characteristics of Christ | HUMILITY

A 40 Day Journey to Becoming Like the One We Follow

Day 2: Humility (Mark 10:31)

One verse in the Bible that I find hilarious is Numbers 12:3. It says, “Moses was a very humble man, more so than anyone on the face of the earth.” I doubt Moses was the original author of that line, but it’s still ironic to brag about someone’s humility. It’s like when Drax (Guardians of the Galaxy, vol 2) says, “I, too, and extraordinarily humble.”

In all seriousness, though, humility is something I find incredibly lacking in much of today’s world. We live in what we call an attention economy, where everyone is vying for your eyeballs, your ears, your clicks and likes and reposts, your wallet. Anyone with a smartphone can become an “influencer.” Politicians are no better than pro athletes and rappers in trying to hype up their own brand.

To quote a Kat Stratford clap-back (10 Things I Hate About You) it’s like these people are born on planet “Look at Me, Look at Me.” From the time we’re born we’ve been told how amazing and smart and beautiful and funny and talented and athletic we are. Some of us even begin to believe it. Humility is not a revered virtue, and now all we’re left with are entitled people trying to get “internet famous” for a hot minute.

C.S. Lewis reminds us, “Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.” We don’t need to swing the pendulum the other way and become depressed with self-loathing. Confidence is not the opposite of humility. Arrogance is. Entitlement is. Self-esteem is not wrong. Self-aggrandizement is.

Jesus never had a “woe is me” attitude about anything. He never lost confidence in who he was or what he was meant to accomplish. Jesus rested securely in his identity as God’s Son. He never tried to make much of himself, and he even told people not to tell others about him. Fame and fortune were not on his radar. He never did anything for the likes, the views, or the cred.

As we follow Christ we are called to deny ourselves. Let’s stop fixating on the world of hype and self-promotion. Rather, let’s humbly rest assuredly in our place in God’s family, as his sons and daughters.

Characteristics of Christ | OBEDIENCE

A 40 Day Journey to Becoming Like the One We Follow

Day 1: Obedience (John 5:19)

Growing up, we were all taught to obey our parents. What a drag, am I right? Why should I listen to them? Why do I have to clean my room? Why do I need to do all these chores? Why do I have to wear these uncomfortable shoes to my cousin’s wedding? Why do I have to be home by eleven when all my friends get to stay out until midnight?

But at some point there comes a turn. The guidelines and boundaries begin to make sense. We find ourselves becoming more like our own parents because we have picked up on their mannerisms, attitudes, and values. Obedience takes time to learn. Eventually we find that if we stop fighting back out of our own stubbornness we can begin to see how the rules do make sense.

Jesus was obedient to his Father. Even when he went missing as a young boy, his parents found him in the Temple because he “must be about [his] Father’s business.” He would obey his heavenly Father above even his earthly parents. His entire mission was predicated on what the Father was already up to. Jesus went where the Father sent him, did what the Father showed him, and spoke what the Father told him.

He became obedient even to the point of death on a cross. Jesus never tried to go rogue or do things on his own accord. Every step was in keeping with the Father’s will. Did he do things he didn’t want to do out of obedience to God? Yes! But Hebrews reminds us that Jesus learned obedience through the things he suffered.

There is a sense in which obedience brings us into oneness with God. “If you love me,” Jesus says, “you will keep my commands.” We show we love Christ not just by doing all the things he tells us to do as some rules-based religion. His command is to love God and love others as he has loved us.

May you walk in obedience to God the Father and Christ the Son and keep in step with the Spirit to experience oneness in relationship with God and others.