"I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, Who loved me and gave Himself for me." - Galatians 2:20

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Friday, April 8, 2011

LIVE UP TO THE NAME

Jeremiah 15:16 "When your words came, I ate them; they were my joy and my heart's delight, for I bear your name, O Lord God Almighty."



On more than one occasion we have nursed our car with the donut on, to the nearest Les Schwab after an unexpected flat tire. Our most recent experience occurred two months ago. We always go to Les Schwab because we know from experience that we will receive the best of service.

We entered the parking lot and parked the car. Before we got out we were warmly greeted by an employee. In no time they took care of our tire with ease and gratitude. They were happy to see us. How often do people take their car to the shop and feel like they were treated fairly, politely and with respect?

Les Schwab is no stranger to great business etiquette. They have a high standard for customer satisfaction. They expect more from their employees while striving to meet the needs of those who visit their business. It's safe to say that Les Schwab lives up to their name.

As I wrote two weeks ago, when we come to Christ, we are called by a new name because we are now His. The name "Christian" redefines who we are because of whose we have become. As a result, the fruit of our lives should match what we say our name is and Who we say we are living for.

Like Les Schwab, a similar parallel can be made to those who follow Jesus. We call ourselves "Christians," but do our lives reflect the nature and character of Christ? Sadly, what our lips confess is not always what our lives profess.

The name "Christian" seems to have become a brand or label void of meaning. Merely wearing the name "Christian" is not the same as living up to the name of Christ. Jeremiah understood who he represented and proclaimed, "I bear your name, O Lord God Almighty." Jeremiah knew who his Maker was and who he lived for. His life testified to who he said he belonged to.

In one of their songs, Christian band DC Talk says : "What an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable are those who call themselves Christians yet walk out their doors and completely deny Him by their lifestyle."

A few months ago I found myself in a convicting situation. I visited my favorite, trendy local women's second hand store. Myself and two other ladies were the first customers to arrive. After the doors opened I made my way to the $1 rack, which is reserved for the $3 items that do not sell over the weekend.

Immediately I saw a pair of jeans that were my size, not to mention I needed a good pair. I tried them on and they were perfect! I tried on a few other items and then went to the cash register to pay for my whopping $8 of loot from the $1 rack. I shared with the gal how excited I was to find such great bargains.

One at a time she took the items off of the hangers and placed them in a bag. All of the items, except my perfect new pair of jeans. "These are designer jeans and I cannot sell these to you for $1." I patiently told her, "Well, they were on the $1 rack at the top of the stairs which is what I checked right after you opened." (I didn't want her to think I had put them there). "Well, you see," she proceeds to tell me, "They must have been put there accidently by our new gal. I simply cannot sell these to you for $1."

There must be some misunderstanding. There is even a red mark through the price that looked like a "1", I thought to myself. "What about the "1" marked in red on the tag?" I asked. "Oh, that's not a "1", that is a mark showing these jeans are half price. They were $60. Now they are $30 and I cannot sell these for $1." Call me cheap, but I have never forked out $30 for a pair of jeans and I wasn't about to start.

I stood there in disappointment. I wasn't disappointed because I was going to lose-out on a 'designer' pair of jeans (I didn't even know they were until she said so), but mostly because they were exactly what I needed. Then my ugly side persisted to come out, "Wouldn't it be the responsibility of this store for the employees to check the $1 rack to make sure the right items were on there? These jeans were on that rack with 15 other items."

She reluctantly sold me the jeans for $1, but as I walked out of the store I did not feel so elated about my purchase. Some might say, "Hey, it's the store's fault, they had them on the wrong rack." True, but the Holy Spirit told me otherwise. I was convicted that day for not representing my Maker as I should have.

I didn't have to prove my case as to why they were wrong and I was right and they better pony up and sell me those jeans for a buck. I should have graciously understood the mistake and accepted it without my rebuttal. Granted, this isn't exactly a store in the mall who has its inventory coded. I understood how this kind of mistake could happen. I knew I could never keep these jeans. Guilt would hang over me every time I would wear them as it had already begun to do.

Less than 24 hours later I found myself back at the store. I returned the jeans and humbly sought their forgiveness and apologized for not being more gracious and for insisting on getting my own way. I also told them, "I don't want to misrepresent my Jesus. I am a Christian and I want my example to others to show my love for Him." The owner was surprised by my return but she understood, being a Christian herself.

I politely left. As I drove home the peace of Christ filled my heart and the burden of guilt lifted from my heavy heart. Thank you Lord for humbling me, for teaching me, for helping me confess when I am wrong. And Lord, who cares about those designer jeans, it's more important to me to wear the name of my Designer.

Living up to the name of Christ should be our constant pursuit and daily endeavor. To live in a way that does not bring shame to the name of Christ or cause others to question what we confess, but rather causes others to notice who we say we are. Here are a few ways we do this:

  • Loving others sacrificially by doing the unexpected and putting their needs before our own.
  • Taming our tongue by curbing sarcasm when we are annoyed by someone or something.
  • Removing ourselves from temptation in an effort to not give in to sin.
  • Serving our neighbors, co-workers, house guests, and relatives by looking for ways to bless their day.
  • Caring for the needs of our family, including the daily mundane tasks, with a cheerful and grateful heart.
  • Maintaining a God honoring budget in order to store up treasures in heaven.
  • Working at our jobs with utmost integrity and character even in the smallest of things.
  • Remembering our commitments by being people of our word.
  • Honoring, respecting, encouraging and praying for our spouses while striving to meet their needs.
  • Refusing to justify our actions when we know we are wrong.
  • Offering grace when hurt and extending peace where turmoil exists.
  • Renewing our mind to be like His by storing His Word in our heart.

A Christian is a Christ follower. One whose life parallels the attitudes and actions of Jesus. One whose passions are filtered through God's will for their lives. One whose daily interactions with others shows a heart that is concerned for the lost. One whose basis for truth and teaching always stems from God's Word. One whose lips and life agree! Let's live up to the Name!



Heart Work:
Write down three ways you can more intentionally live up to the name of Christ. Let's be honest friends, are there any areas of weakness that ensnare you and bring shame to His name?


Heart Exam:
Consider this past week: What actions/situations in your life did not bring glory to the precious name of Jesus?

What does the name "Christian" mean to you? What things do you associate with it? What should you associate with it?


Heart Changing Word:
Deuteronomy 28:58-59 (NIV) "If you do not carefully follow all the words of this law, which are written in this book, and do not revere this glorious and awesome name - the Lord your God - the Lord will send fearful plagues on you and your descendants, harsh and prolonged disasters, and severe and lingering illnesses."

Jeremiah 14:7 "Although our sins testify against us, O Lord, do something for the sake of your name. For our backsliding is great; we have sinned against you."

Malachi 1:6 & 14b "A son honors his father, and a servant his master. If I am a father, where is the honor due me? If I am a master, where is the respect due me?" says the Lord Almighty. "It is you, O priests, who show contempt for my name." (14b) "For I am a great king," says the Lord Almighty, "and my name is to be feared among the nations."

1 John 2: 6 "Whoever claims to live in Him must walk as Jesus did."



Copyright 2011 by Hester Christensen. All rights reserved.