We all learned in geometry the fact that all squares are rectangles, but not all rectangles are squares. Both have very similar qualities, from four 90 degree angles, to perpendicular line segments. But, due to identifiable differences (that even my 7 year old sees clearly), not all rectangles are squares. Why do I bring this up? Because, as a pastor, I am constantly burdened with the fact that I don’t have a “salvation scanner” posted at the church door, making it clear who is a believer and who is not; who knows Christ, and who does not; who loves the things of Christ, and who really loves Christ. I have become increasingly aware that loving the things of Christ is NOT the same, nor is it a sufficient substitute for loving Christ. But I believe we are on dangerous ground as church-goers and as pastors because the obvious differences have become blurred, the lines have fuzzied between true discipleship and a cheap counterfeit.
Over the next few posts, I want to dive into the difference between loving the things of Christ and loving Christ. This is not an apples to oranges comparison, but a rectangles to squares comparison. The difficulty in doing this is that we aren’t able to chirp that “one of these things is not like the other.” Instead, the differences are slight… but the differences are the difference between life and death. The format over the next few posts will be as follows: Loving the things of Christ does not make a disciple, but disciples will love the things of Christ. We will dive into themes of church, family, morality, politics, social justice and missions. My hope is, that in doing so, we will see that true identity with Christ is found, not in the things of Christ, but in the person of Christ. I can’t guarantee this will be easy, nor can I guarantee this will be painless. Instead, I would venture to guess that this will be painful and challenging, but in the best way.
ACTIVITY vs IDENTITY:
This venture will boil down to several essentials, several concepts that will help us to define the difference between loving the things of Christ and loving Christ. The first of these concepts is the distinction between activity and identity. Much of the Christian life is wrapped up in activity. Going to church services, attendance of Bible study, practicing family worship, quiet times, evangelism. All good, necessary activities. But the Christian walk is more than mere activity. This seems like a no-brainer, but often we can catch ourselves boiling down our faith into a checklist of “holiness” that helps us measure our progress and growth. But is our measuring stick Biblical? Or have we exchanged, or even cheapened, our calling to follow after Christ? Activity is a necessary part of obedience, but the Word of God makes it clear that Identity is what really marks us out as the redeemed, purchased, holy priesthood of God.
I have a wedding to do this weekend (Activity) that will be a part of God’s work to produce a new couple where two become one (Identity)… so we’ll really get into this on Monday as we look at some warnings against mere activity and some rewards of true identity.
In the meantime, consider this truth with me… and exalt Christ for the new identity we now have in Him based on HIS activity.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
(2 Corinthians 5:17-21)