By Leonard Lauriault
Some interesting things happened in our neighborhood during or shortly after the recent snow storms.
When I’d finished shoveling off our sidewalk after the first storm, one of my daughters cleaned off some of our neighbors’ walks. She didn’t have a suitable coat for such work so she wore my hooded jacket.
A few days later, I received a thank you note from one of the neighbors who may have thought I’d done all of that shoveling because she saw my jacket. My daughter did the work; I got the credit – that works for me! Not really. Still, that’s how things are to be, at least for Christians.
To become Christians, we put on Christ – become clothed with Christ (Galatians 3: 26-4: 7; Acts 2: 38, 39; Romans 6: 16-18). Part of being clothed with Christ means that when others look at us, they see him, which is what God wants for two reasons.
First, we’re to be clothed with Christ inside and out. When we put on Christ, God puts the Spirit of his son, Jesus, into our hearts, which is necessary to our salvation and why God is so clear about how and when he sends his Spirit to us (Romans 8: 9). We’re to give the Spirit control of our lives to transform us into the image of God.
When the Spirit of Jesus has control, he can begin doing his work through us and, while I haven’t figured this out yet, Jesus said, we’d do even greater things than he did (Philippians 2: 12, 13; John 14: 11-14; Ephesians 3: 20, 21; Philippians 3: 15, 16).
As the transformation takes place, we shed our worldly rags and begin reflecting God’s image to the world more and more (Ephesians 4: 17-24; Romans 6: 3-11; John 11: 44; Colossians 3: 1-17; Romans 13: 13, 14; 8: 12-14; 2 Corinthians 3: 16-18; 4: 7; Isaiah 64: 8). At some point, those who are paying closer attention will notice a difference recognizing that we don’t act like we once did or like most other people.
I experienced something similar to this a while back. When my older daughter was very young, many people, including me, saw my features in her (poor kid!).
About the time she entered high school, I called to her across the room and when she looked around, I saw what I had seen in a picture of her mother at about that age – certainly a magnificent transformation!
Reflecting God’s love to the world in our attitudes and behavior is what makes the good news attractive and allows Jesus to draw all men to himself as they ask us why we’re different (Titus 1: 15-2: 15; John 12: 32; 1 Peter 3: 15, 16; Colossians 4: 5, 6; 2 Corinthians 4: 5, 6, 10).
The second reason God wants others, specifically himself in this respect, to see Jesus when he looks at us is for our own protection. When the Israelites were told to put the blood on their doorposts, God said when he saw the blood, he would pass over them and not inflict the most terrible final plague on them (Exodus 12: 12, 13).
When we’re clothed with Christ – washed in his blood – God sees his son and does not hold our sins against us (Acts 22: 16; 1 John 1: 5-7; Romans 4: 6-8). Jesus did the work to bring about the possibility of our forgiveness (John 17: 4; Luke 19: 10; Mark 10: 45; John 19: 30).
Now, he continues protecting us by interceding to God on our behalf (Romans 8: 26, 27, 31-24; 2 Timothy 1: 5, 6; Hebrews 7: 25).
When both my daughters shoveled for the neighbors after the second storm, they wore their own coats. Still, everyone knew they were out there because they’re clothed with Christ and thanked God for them (2 Corinthians 4: 13-15; 9: 12-15; John 15: 8; Matthew 5: 14-16; 1 Peter 2: 12).
So, he gets the credit he’s due for their lives and in the end they’ll get the highest commendation that all the faithful will hear from God himself (Matthew 25: 14-21; Revelation 2: 10; Galatians 6: 7-9). In the meantime, as long as anyone is faithful with the wealth and abilities God has blessed them with, it’s likely that they’ll receive greater blessings in this life as well, though not necessarily as earthly treasures (Matthew 6: 1-4, 5, 6, 16-18; Luke 12: 47, 48; Matthew 25: 28-30; Mark 10: 29, 30; Matthew 6: 19-33).
Are you clothed with Christ? Does he get the credit in your life, or the blame? When you start giving him the credit he’s due, others also will give him that credit, and maybe their lives.
Leonard Lauriault is a member of the church of Christ