January 9, 2017

HOT Christians

My friend Janice says Christians should be HOT. She defines that as “honest, open, and transparent.” I’ve known a few HOT Christians. One was my first mentor. Another was a man in a church we joined in California. Another is a friend who used to live nearby. These people are not perfect, but their transparency means that the One who lives in them can be seen. In other words, when I was with them, the strong presence of Jesus Christ was obvious.

This was true also of Jesus’ disciples . . .

Now when they (the rulers and elders of the people) saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus. (Acts 4:13)

What is it that makes some Christians reflect the Lord Jesus Christ more than others? From this verse, obviously it is not about how much I know. Degrees from a Bible school and a seminary do not make me shine. In fact, this is not about me at all. However, there are ways that I can get out of His way so that He can shine through me. Today’s devotional points to Jesus’ sermon from Matthew 5:1-16 and from it, there are some clues.

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Poverty of spirit means no claim to being somebody, no attempts to prove myself. In me there is absolutely nothing of eternal value. I am a sinner, through and through. Thinking this way is a tremendous protection against putting on airs which easily hides the One who lives in my heart.

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” Mourning for my sin is about as far away from pride as I can get. Pride puts me in a mode of layering, showing off my so-called best self. When I do that, people see only the layers, not Jesus.

“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” Most people think ‘doormat’ or ‘jellyfish’ when meekness is used. In the Bible, it is about humility and a mild and gentle demeanor. That is, when stuff happens, a meek person is not riled and does not fight back. Instead, they trust God totally no matter what is going on. This is so rare that it stands out as a God-thing in the lives of those who are meek.

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” The ‘prosperity gospel’ teaches that every Christian should be healthy and wealthy. While God does promise good things, yet He also says, “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33) If I want others to see Jesus in me, I need to have my priorities right. Seeking money, comfort, a perfect life, makes me no different than most everyone else, and my ambition will hide Jesus.

“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.” Jesus epitomizes mercy by doing for us what we cannot and do not deserve. An attitude that others must be worthy of my attention, care, or kindness will totally blot out the God of mercy.

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” This verse nails it. Purity of heart is about being free of guilt, but it also means to be “unmixed” so I cannot let my ideas, emotions, and desires become mixed into the goodness that Jesus brings into my life. This will muddy my heart so I cannot see the God who lives there, never mind letting others see Jesus in me.

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” Some people love to watch a fight. Genuine peacemakers are rare. Those who do it will win Nobel prizes and have books written about their lives, even if Jesus is not their motivation. As His child, I ought to desire people to be at peace with God and each other. This marks me as a Christian and it flows from being with Jesus.

“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” True and transparent Christians are not always popular. The Jesus who shines out of their lives was sinless yet crucified because of it. I cannot expect to be totally loved if others can see Jesus in me. Some of them will hate me.

“You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”

This last directive is closest to describing what a HOT Christian does. Transparency makes others thirsty for God. It is a quality that shines in such a way that people glorify God, not me but God. This circles back to the first beatitude; if people are going to see Jesus in me, I need to be poor in spirit and stop blocking Him from being visible.

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