April 2018 ~ Newsletter

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Dear Friends and Fellow Believers,

As we consider the Easter season, we must spend time considering the character of our Savior Jesus Christ. Character is defined by one online dictionary as, “the mental and moral distinctive to an individual.” Jesus mentality and moral distinctives are unmatchable, but are also imputed to us through the Holy Spirit and reinforced by the scriptures. We are in the process of becoming like Christ as we are “conformed in to His image.”

In John’s Gospel, John the Baptist is quoted as having said, “He must increase, and I must decrease.” That is to say that my character will grow over time to become more like Christ’s, but it is not a given, it does not happen automatically. Character is developed through many different aspects of learning. One can learn academically, you can learn by your mistakes, you can learn my mentoring with someone, or by any other different model of learning.

Jesus character was described for us in Philippians 2:5-11, Romans 5:8, Galatians 2:20, and many, many other verses of the New Testament. Displayed equally in these verses is Christ love for humanity and His willingness to submit to God the Father’s will in sacrificing Himself for our salvation. In Galatians 2:20 we get a real glimpse of what I like to call the “life for life” exchange. The character of Christ is imparted to us as a faith transaction at salvation, but it is also worked out daily as we relinquish more and more of who we were to more and more of who he is making us.

Jesus character guided Him through some very difficult situations: request from His mother at the wedding feast of Canna, the three fold temptation in the wilderness, the abuses of the temple both at the beginning and the end of His ministry, and of course taking on the sins of the world on Calvary. There is debate over whether or not Jesus, as the Son of God could have sinned by choice or not. Some say that being human he could have chosen to sin, others say that as the divine Son of God it was impossible for Him to sin. I believe that as fully human, He could have chosen selfishly, but because of His divine character He did not. Character does not remove from us the ability to choose, but once developed, it does enable us to see the choice more clearly, and make the right choice.

I have been a student of leadership and motivation for a very long time. I have read books and articles, and seen online courses that discuss these topics at length. What is interesting to me is that in the more recent literature and course work, leadership is now being discussed in reference to character unlike I have seen before. I believe this is a response to the moral bankruptcy that is seen on Wall Street, in Government, and even in the high profile failures of Christian leaders during the last 15 years. Salvation by faith is a given scripturally, but development of character, especially the character of Christ, is not in any circumstances a given.

Jesus character was demonstrated. He lived His life as an example without boasting or bragging, He just did it. When the rubber met the road, when He stood to be tried, He was faithful. The privacy of the garden prayer was the fuel for the public display of obedient character in times of trial. Character is forged by small acts of selfless obedience, and fueled by an outward focus for God’s glory. Jesus walked the walk, because he talked the talk, not publicly, privately in prayer with His Father.

As we consider all that Easter presents to us this year, consider the character that Christ displayed, and the character on displayed in your life every day. Join us in celebrating what He did, so we could become like Him.

In the Bond of Peace

Michael C. Smith