Everywhere I go people constantly ask me for a summary of the Christian life, a synthesis and integration of its major emphases. I have written this article in order to help satisfy that request. The essential elements of the Christian life could be outlined and brought together in a variety of ways, and indeed they have, but I have chosen what I like to call, the “Five C’s of Christlikeness.” Everything from our perspective—and God’s too I might add—can be viewed in terms of our enjoying and worshipping Him as well as becoming more and more like Him.
So then, as Christ-ians, Christ is the theme of our lives. As Paul said, “to live is Christ” (Phil 1:21). Is he your passion or is he simply a pastime? Are you praying for his presence in new and exciting ways or are you playing at your relationship with him? I have to be honest; there are times when I would rather not think about those kinds of questions. But to knowingly and willingly offer him less than our full and undivided, Spirit led, scripturally defined adoration and joyful submission is to participate in idolatry. The point is, we will worship someone or something; there’s no getting around it!
With that in mind, we must bear in mind that out of his limitless mercy and profound love he has called us, literally summoned us, to his banquet table and dining hall—a veritable feast prepared for our enjoyment and blessing (Psalm 23). Though he is rich and we poor, and though he lives in a mansion, and we on the street—because of our offenses against him—he has nonetheless sent his Son outside the mansion onto the street to get us, to bring us to the proper address, open the gate, and lead us into the dining hall so that we can take our very own spot at the table. There he awaits our presence and rejoices with tears when we enter. We have been called into communion with the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Let the meal begin (cf. Rev 3:20)!
It is not long after we enter into fellowship and communion with our Lord that Spirit-initiated changes start to happen. We begin to think, feel, and act in ways that the biblical Jesus did (and still does). We find ourselves hating what he hates and desiring what he desires, approving what he approves, and shunning what he shuns. We live in his mansion and start to act like one of his sons or daughters. Victory—albeit through struggle—over sinful impulses emerges as a discernible pattern in our experience. Over time real Christ-like character surfaces—a character that is defined by deep seated, holy dispositions to act in ways pleasing to the Father.
Having drawn us to himself in communion, and given us grace for holy character, the Father also puts us into a new community where we find worship, direction, encouragement, wisdom and help along the way. God also commissions us to take the good news of the banquet out onto the streets and through us summons others to the party. Not all will come, but many will. Finally, God has graciously given us certain charismata (i.e., gifts) in order that we might serve him appropriately and with spiritual power.
In summary, then, here are the Five C’s: (1) communion; (2) character; (3) community; (4) commissions; and (5) charismata. Let’s take a deeper look at each one.