5. God’s Call to Christlikeness
In this study, we found that the One Another injunctions and statements of Scripture fall into two categories: those that deal with attitudes and those that deal with actions because they are so closely related. In fact, we are told in Scripture to have the same mind with one another which is essentially, the mind of Christ. This is not simply so we can be nice to one another, but so that, in our love for one another, we can also become a united and effective body in the work of God.
To be a Christ-like people, we must also have the mind of Christ. This is vital to our ability to respond to God’s call and challenge as His people who are here to declare the excellencies of His grace. The church must come to understand who it is and why it is here and then become united in the purpose of that understanding.
(1) Meditating on God’s Word gives strength and courage to obey God’s call in a nation that has lost its way through.
Joshua 1:8 This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success.
Romans 12:1-2 I urge you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.
2 Corinthians 10:4-5 for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. 5 We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ,
(2) Meditating on God’s Word Develops the Mind of Christ
1 Corinthians 2:16 For who has known the mind of the Lord, that he should instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ.
Philippians 2:5 Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus,
In his book, Kingdoms In Conflict, Chuck Colson writes:
Wise men and women have long recognized the need for the transcendent authority of religion to give society its legitimacy and essential cohesion. One of the most vigorous arguments was made by Cicero, who maintained that religion is ‘indispensable to private morals and public order … and no man of sense will attack it.’
In the West the primary civilizing force was Christianity. According to historian Christopher Dawson, Christianity provided a transcendent spiritual end which gave Western culture its dynamic purpose. It furnished the soul for Western civilization and provided its moral legitimization …0
The American experiment in limited government was founded on this essential premise; its success depended on a transcendent reference point and a religious consensus. John Adams wrote, ‘Our constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate for the government of any other.’ Tocqueville credited much of America’s remarkable success to its religious nature; it was later called a nation with ‘the soul of a church.’27
Later on in the same chapter, Colson makes this important crucial analysis:
The shock waves that threaten the very foundations of our culture today, then, emanate from society’s failure to understand man’s need for God and the Christians’ failure to accurately present Christ’s message of the Kingdom of God.28
It is a bewildering paradox that one-third of all American adults claim to be born again and yet fail to impact our society which becomes sicker and more corrupt by the day.29
In John Woodbridge’s book, Renewing Your Mind in a Secular World, George Gallup, Jr. is quoted as saying: “America in 1984 appears to be confronted with a great paradox: Religion is growing in importance among Americans but morality is losing ground.”30
Are we troubled by this paradox? If we aren’t, we should be. Why is that we as evangelical Christians who make up one-third of the population of this country have not had greater impact on our society? Is it not because so many within the body of Christ have failed to respond to God’s call and take on the challenge that God has given us as His people? Many are troubled, but the majority are not. Why?
Though evangelical Christians affirm that the Bible is an infallible rule for faith and practice, many of them compartmentalize their faith in such a manner that biblical teachings do not much affect the way they live on a daily basis. They profess sound evangelical doctrine but betray those confessions by their deeds. They do not consciously seek each day to live under the direction of biblical ethics.
As believers, we are not sheltered from the enticing messages of our society, nor are we immune from the intoxication of unrelenting activity. We may yield to those pressures far more than we ourselves sometimes recognize. It would be easy for a spirit of worldliness to have entered our very being.
Christ taught that Christians are to serve as salt and light in the world (Matt. 5:13-16). But salt can lose its savor, and a light can be dimmed. It is quite possible that we are experiencing a loss of spiritual power because we are not yielding ourselves to the Holy Spirit on a daily basis. Little wonder we have lost some of our saltiness and light. We cannot change the world because we are too much like it. The challenge of keeping a godly mind in modern America has overwhelmed us.
Our minds play an exceedingly large role in our Christian lives. It is in our minds that some of our fiercest spiritual warfare takes place.31
Note the following texts concerning our responsibility as believers in the world:
Philippians 1:27 Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ; so that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel.
“With one mind” means having the mind of Christ, working in unity of purpose to promote the gospel of Christ, to reach out with the love of Christ to a hurting world.
1 Peter 1:13 Therefore, gird your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance …
In other words, don’t allow your past patterns and the present pulls of the world to pull you back into your old way of life, one dominated by the wrong values.
Both of these passages center on our thinking, on what we think and how because this is so important to what we do.
Christians face a major problem: they receive too much of their mental input from the world and too little from biblical sources. Up to 90 percent of the information they sort in their minds is controlled by presuppositions antithetical to a Christian viewpoint. Therefore they must increase the amount of time spent in genuine, rich fellowship with other Christians, and they must work for better experiences in their devotional life.32
Joshua 1:1-9 is a passage that relates directly to developing and maintaining the mind of Christ and having the courage and strength to respond to the call and challenge of God on our lives. In verses 1-5 we have God’s call and commission to Joshua. This is not unlike God’s call on every Christian in the sense that we are called to be like Joshua and to be involved in leading people into the riches of Christ.
Joshua 1:1-5 Now it came about after the death of Moses the servant of the LORD that the LORD spoke to Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ servant, saying, 2 “Moses My servant is dead; now therefore arise, cross this Jordan, you and all this people, to the land which I am giving to them, to the sons of Israel. 3 Every place on which the sole of your foot treads, I have given it to you, just as I spoke to Moses. 4 From the wilderness and this Lebanon, even as far as the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and as far as the Great Sea toward the setting of the sun, will be your territory. 5 No man will be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I have been with Moses, I will be with you; I will not fail you or forsake you.”
In verses 6-9 we have God’s challenge to strength and courage to accept the call with success.
6 Be strong and courageous, for you shall give this people possession of the land which I swore to their fathers to give them. 7 Only be strong and very courageous; be careful to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, so that you may have success wherever you go. 8 This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success. 9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.
Ultimately, strength and courage come from four things in this passage:
- Realizing the Pleasure of God’s Word—His will and call (1:1-2). Compare Colossians 1:9-10.
- Resting in the Promises of God’s Word (1:2b-6).
- Renewing the Mind in the Principles of God’s Word (1:7-8).
- Reckoning on the Presence of God’s Person (1:9).
The heart and the basis of this is the fact of God’s revelation and the need of daily communication and communion with the Living God. Each of these verses deal with two things: the fact of revelation from God and the need for response from Joshua.
- In verses 1-5 the call is based on revelation from God—His Word.
- In verse 6 the call to courage is based on God’s oath—His Word.
- In verses 7-8 the call to courage is based on the need to know the Law of Moses—His Word.
- In verse 9 the call to courage is based on the fact God had spoken to Joshua—His Word.
Do you get the point? Success in obedience to God’s call depended on hearing, knowing, and obeying God’s Word, but verses 7-8 give us the key to Joshua’s ability to respond and so also ours.
- In vs. 6, “be strong and courageous”
- In vs. 9, “be strong and courageous”
- In vss. 7-8, “only be very strong and courageous” is keyed to Joshua’s faithfulness to follow the Word
- Verse 7 is a stronger exhortation and shows the greatest need and the greatest danger
The greatest need: to commune with God daily on the basis of His Word.
The greatest threat: our failure to meditate on His Word that we might live by it.
Following a mental health and maturity survey of evangelical seminary students, Paul Meier summarized his research as follows:
1. Even though trusting in Christ is all that is needed to obtain eternal life, experiencing the abundant life Christ promised (John 10:10) and experiencing the fruit of the Spirit (love, joy, peace) rather than bitterness, depression, and anxiety are dependent upon a renewing of the mind.
2. Renewing of the mind can come from various sources, such as confrontation by loving friends about personal blind-spots, therapy with a Christian professional counselor, conviction from the Holy Spirit, confrontation with scriptural principles in sermons or seminars, and daily meditation on Scripture.
3. Renewing of the mind is a continual process, a progressive sanctification requiring continual, preferably daily, input from God’s Word.
4. Daily meditation on Scripture with personal application, is the most effective means of obtaining personal joy, peace, and emotional maturity.
5. On the average, it takes about three years of daily Scripture meditation to bring about enough change in a person’s thought patterns and behavior to produce statistically superior mental health and happiness.33
Without biblical meditation, we fall into the trap of religiosity, of going through the motions of religion without really dealing with our lives. What God has called us to is not simply overt conformity to a set of moral rules, standards, and actions of service. Instead, He has called us to a heart relationship with Him through Jesus Christ through the Word in the power of the Holy Spirit. This means change in our lives from the inside out, changes in our values, sources of trust, in our purposes for living, and in the way we handle life.