January 18, 2009

Bearing the Image of Christ Outwardly

Reposted from Wednesday, October 24th, 2007

Mary with Jesus in her wombA while back I was blogging about evangelism for Catholics, and a few days ago, I got this in the email:

Live in such a way that all may know that you bear outwardly as well as inwardly the image of Christ crucified, the model of all gentleness and mercy. - Saint Paul of the Cross (1694-1775)

Part of the equation involves completely expunging your addiction to the tainted pursuits of this materialistic world of ours. My wife’s Baptist pastor has a term for this: Biblical separation. Which is simply: living away from the world and its over-emphasis on the hedonistic accrual of goods and pleasures. Pitch your tent OUTSIDE of Sodom, not within its walls. Or else ask yourself if you’re really a Christian.

But the other half of the equation is identifying yourself with your Savior: the master whom we serve. Romans 6 talks about us becoming slaves of the one we obey. Hopefully we are slaves to righteousness, and claim our gift as adopted sons and daughters of a loving merciful God of truth and love. After identifying yourself with Him, you follow Him, and cultivate His Word in your heart.

Maybe this is what St.Francis of Assisi meant when he said: “Go out and preach the gospel… and if you must, use words.” That somehow, we would bear the image of Christ to the world by the way we lived our lives.

But look at the last part of St. Paul of the Cross’ quote: it’s not just the image of Christ we should be sharing with others, but that of Christ CRUCIFIED. That can’t be easy, can it?

That’s where obedience and surrender comes in. And a whole lotta grace from on high.

Because if we truly serve a master, then we must realize no servant is ever greater than the master. And if the master is crucified? How can we expect an easy life as Christians, much more, as Catholics, when our master gave up all on the cross for sinners? He’s telling us all the time to follow Him from His cross of pain and shame. He’s calling us to die to sin, to die to our old selves, to selfishness and weakness and lust and prejudice and hedonism and excess and addiction and pettiness and slander and gossip.

And to live as children of light.

“For once we were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord.” -Ephesians 5:8

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