Into His Likeness

“I believe that there are too many accommodating preachers, and too many practitioners in the church who are not believers. Jesus Christ did not say, ‘Go into all the world and tell the world that it is quite right.’ The gospel is something completely different. In fact, it is directly opposed to the world.” —C. S. Lewis

PRAYER: (from the Lectionary)

“O God, who before the passion of your only begotten Son revealed his glory upon the holy mountain: Grant to us that we, beholding by faith the light of his countenance, may be strengthened to bear our cross, and be changed into his likeness from glory to glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.”

SCRIPTURES: (from the Lectionary)

Exodus 24:12-18
2 Peter 1:16-21
Matthew 17:1-9
Psalm 2

We have even greater confidence in the message proclaimed by the prophets. You must pay close attention to what they wrote, for their words are like a lamp shining in a dark place—until the Day dawns, and Christ the Morning Star shines in your hearts. (2 Peter 1:19 NLT)

PRAYER FOCUS: Looking Like Jesus

Have you seen the news today? We live in a messy world full of turmoil. What are we, as Christians, to do? More importantly, how are we to pray?

If we believe we are saved by our faith in Jesus Christ, and if we are well-grounded in the eternal assurance we find in the Bible, then even tragic, traumatic events like those in today’s news fall into perspective. Our Father-God still loves His children. “Fear Not” is still the single most common command in the Bible. Jesus still saves. God is still God, and He is always in control.

A word of warning here, Christian: the world will see your faith and challenge it. Unfortunately, so will some in the church. As a faithful follower of Jesus Christ, sooner or later you will confront the word Pragmatic, or Pragmatism, referring to the study of cause and effect, and the extracting of “meaningful lessons” from it.

One such pragmatic theme is that the world is too full of sin and imperfection to make any difference, so why try? Another, common to certain western denominations, is to do good only in “approved” ways and ministries, so as not to “offend” anyone by using the name of Jesus Christ (even though it is He Who saves them). These flawed schools of thought, while pragmatic, are contrary to the very nature and grace of an Almighty God Who knows no limits.

The language of pragmatism is characteristically vague and uncertain. Its conclusions are hesitant. Right and wrong, good and evil, light and darkness don’t exist in a climate of pragmatism. To the pragmatist, Christians who hold principles firmly grounded in truth are considered “legalistic”. Their doctrinal convictions are viewed as unloving, intolerant, and unenlightened. Good intentions, not God’s Word, become the measuring stick by which right and wrong are determined. And who, of course, could ever have better intentions than the worldly pragmatist?

The problem, to paraphrase the late U.S. President Ronald Reagan, is that the pragmatists know so much that just isn’t true.

As followers of Jesus Christ, we know the truth—the absolute Truth—revealed in the Bible. This sets us apart from the world and its fuzzy feel-good pragmatism. A Christian who is well-versed in Scripture is not likely to be deceived by smooth-talking preachers or pragmatic pundits. This is why the Lord challenges us to inscribe His Word on our hearts. Jesus dares us to be different.

In this week’s Lectionary Scripture, Peter writes that the words of the prophets are like a lamp shining in a dark place. He warns us of pragmatic religious leaders who would compromise God’s Word in misguided attempts to accommodate the world’s ever-changing viewpoints. The Apostle Paul, in his letter to the Romans, also exhorts us to remain in good spiritual “shape” by the daily discipline of Scripture, to remain persistent in our Christian witness.

What does that look like in practice? In our daily lives, do we resemble the likeness of the Eternal Almighty God, or do we merely mirror the pragmatic culture? Are we more like the unchanging Christ or more like the world which is passing away?

In this week’s Lectionary Prayer we pray that we will be changed into the likeness of Jesus Christ “from glory to glory”. Therefore let us reject the pragmatism that rejects truth. Pray that we would be strengthened…and be changed into His Likeness. From glory to glory.

It’s Monday Morning. The world will challenge your faith, Christian. Understand that it is lost and hurting. This week, speak humbly to it in Truth and in Love. Bathe it faithfully in Prayer. Repeat. Repeat. And repeat.

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