By Larry White

We are Christians

    That's what the world calls us and that's what we call ourselves. That's what the early disciples of Christ were called. (Acts.11:26) "They were called Christians first in Antioch."
   Today, not only are the followers of Christ called Christians, but everything else, whether animal, vegetable or mineral that has any connection with Christianity is also called "Christian": Christian hospitals, Christian colleges, Christian Little League teams and recently I heard of the Southern Oregon Christian Insurance Company.
   With all this going on, we tend to forget ourselves what this name means and implies.

Christian: a follower of Christ.

The idea of follower, implies that the person who follows Christ is not trying to be his own man, but is actively trying to emulate the life of Christ, to be like Christ in everything.  The Christian has died to his former self and is pursuing a course of living the life of Jesus in it's place. To be like Jesus is our ultimate goal. Not in any outward appearance, but to act like him, to have his character, to talk like him, to have his mind, for his will to become our will. As Paul says in (Gal.4:19) "till Christ is formed in you",
   That's what a Christian is, a living copy of the glory of the only begotten son of God within the humanly weak vessels of the people who put their trust in Jesus.
   That's why John said, in (1Jno2:6) that,

"He that says he remains in him (Jesus) ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked."

How did Jesus walk?
First, what do we mean by "walk"?
(peripateo)  peripateo: to walk about or around. So, it meant your manner of living, your conduct, your behavior - how you walk around in the world.
What characterized Christ's walk in the world?  There are many things we could look at, so I've chosen three, viz. his love; his light; and his loyalty.

Christ's life was a life of:

As the father so loved the world and gave his only begotten son - Jesus also shared in this love and freely laid down his life.

As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you: continue you in my love.
Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends, if you do whatever I command you.

   It was this love that prompted Jesus to come into the world and give his life for us. It was an unselfish and self-sacrificing love that he emptied himself of his position and glory and came into the world to seek and save that which was lost. He didn't seek his own interests, but only ours.
   We see his love as he went about healing all that came to him - having compassion on them and instructing them about the kingdom. Everything he said and did was directed solely toward the saving of man - even to the laying down of his life for our sakes.

Hereby perceive we the love [of God], because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down [our] lives for the brethren.

   Now the Christian who wants to be like Jesus must pursue love and add that to his character.

Be you therefore followers of God, as dear children; And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us, and has given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling savor.

Walk in love
Walking in love means to have your whole behavior characterized and motivated by love. We see love among brethren by their willingness to give of themselves and help each other. Jesus laid down his life for us and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. That willingness to give and supply anything to our brethren is indicative of love.

Now for the third time I am ready to come to you. And I will not be burdensome to you; for I do not seek yours, but you. For the children ought not to lay up for the parents, but the parents for the children.
And I will very gladly spend and be spent for your souls; though the more abundantly I love you, the less I am loved.

Some pre-requisites to love are:
1.) Having the confidence and the assurance of your own salvation. That's when we realize that we have nothing to lose or be defensive about and our hearts can fill with gratitude and joy in believing - then love comes easy. Love comes easy when we know the love of God.
2.) We can love our brethren when we are confident that they are our brethren. When we have the same goals for the kingdom and we all love God with one heart and one mind in unity - then love blossoms.
   A lot of the problems Christians experience with each other comes from not loving each other.
Many Christians are defensive and suspicious about each other.

How does a person treat you when they love you?
*   They open the door wide to you, don't they?
  You feel welcome and accepted for who you are.
  You don't feel like you're on the judgment block.
*   This person won't take one thing you say and jump on any misunderstanding and immediately close the door to you.
  They enjoy your company.
*   They want what's best for you.
   We have our guard up because we've been hurt in the past by unloving people. But when someone loves us, we can tell right away, can't we? And it makes us want to let down our guard and love them back.
   That's how people felt around Jesus. They sensed his tremendous care and concern for them and they just couldn't get enough. That's the way every Christian in the church should be. We need to walk in love.

Christ's life and walk was characterized by:

   Jesus said in

(Jno.12:46) "I am come a light into the world that whosoever believes on me should not remain in darkness."

   He was light because in him was the embodiment of everything that is true and real in the universe. His very presence, and the words he spoke exposed the actual circumstances of man in the world. Man is in sin and the ungodly corruption of lust. But he is deceived about who and what he is and what God intended for him, and so man is in darkness.
   Jesus came into the world to expose man to the truth (to his real situation) and to remedy his problem by giving himself to free man from sin (for the sin of the world). Jesus awakened man to the spiritual issues that are being decided in the world. And man is given now the choice between light and darkness.

And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that does evil hates the light, neither comes to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.

Jesus is light, and as he walked in the world he let that light shine - not to condemn people, but so that they could see and believe and be saved.

While you have light, believe in the light, that you may be the children of light. These things spoke Jesus, and departed, and did hide himself from them.

   The Christian who is trying to be like Christ must also be a light in the world.

   But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becomes saints; Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not appropriate: but rather giving of thanks.
   For this you know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.  Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the children of disobedience. Therefore do not be partakers with them.
For you were sometimes darkness, but now [are you] light in the Lord: walk as children of light:  (For the fruit of the Spirit [is] in all goodness and righteousness and truth;) Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord. And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove [them]. For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of  them in secret. But all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light: for whatever does make manifest is light. Wherefore he says, Awake you that sleep, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give you light.

Walk as children of light
   This involves coming out of the darkness. We have spiritual understanding now in Christ, and we can escape the corruption that's in the world. Light involves the fruit of the spirit (v.9) and our lives should be characterized by goodness and righteousness and truth. We know the true situation of man in the world now - we can see the darkness and come out of it. To remain in darkness would be a lie because we know the truth.
   If we walk as children of light - the darkness is going to treat us the same way they treated Jesus. But that should give us rejoicing and confidence because we have fellowship not only with Christ's work but also with his suffering and therefore of his strength and glory.

   That which we have seen and heard declare we to you, that you also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship [is] with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ. And these things write we to you, that your joy may be full.
This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not practice the truth: But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanses us from all sin.

   The darkness is going to hate us as it did Jesus, because our light exposes to them their true situation. But in reproving the unfruitful works of darkness - we're not to condemn men just as Jesus didn't judge or condemn men. "Reprove" means to expose the wrong and convince a person of the wrong, but only out of love and only to seek to correct that person; not to condemn or pass sentence.
   Jesus was a bright and shining light of truth and goodness and anyone who came near him had to be bathed in and have their hearts and lives exposed in that light and that goodness of love.
   That's the way Christians should be, waking as children of light; harmless, but shining with the intensity of the truth. Exposing people's hearts to them so that they can deal with it and recover themselves.

Not only of light and love but Christ's life was characterized by a walk of:


Loyalty and faithfulness to his father and the doing of his will - the keeping of his word.

For I came down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him that sent me.
Jesus answered them, and said, My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me. If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or [whether] I speak of myself. He that speaks of himself seeks his own glory: but he that seeks his glory that sent him, the same is true, and no unrighteousness is in him.
Then said Jesus to them, When you have lifted up the Son of man, then shall you know that I am [he], and [that] I do nothing of myself; but as my Father has taught me, I speak these things. And he that sent me is with me: the Father has not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him. As he spoke these words, many believed on him.
Yet you have not known him; but I know him: and if I should say, I do not know him, I shall be a liar like unto you: but I know him, and keep his saying.
For I have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak. And I know that his commandment is life everlasting: whatever I speak therefore, even as the Father said to me, so I speak.
If you keep my commandments, you shall remain in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and remain in his love.

   So Jesus kept his father's word. The picture in this verb "to keep"  is that of keeping an eye on his word (to observe the commandments). It carries the idea of guarding his precepts with watchful care, making sure you know them and do them. To hold them as a treasure, to cherish them, to take pains not to lose them or let others tamper with God's word would also be included.
   So Jesus cherished and guarded every precept of his father's which he had by holding to it in his heart and doing it in his life against all opposition.
   The Christian who seeks to be like Christ needs to develop this attitude in his character, to love and keep God's word.  John said in (2Jno.6)  And this is love, that we walk after his commandments.

Walk after his commandments

   People look at Christians and say we go too far in our observance of God's word - that we're picky to the extreme, and unless everyone agrees with us, then we just can't be happy. They say we're arrogant and think we have a corner on doing what Jesus commands.

He that says he remains in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.

   But how did Jesus walk?   He kept his father's word. When we keep God's word we walk as Jesus walked.
   The only people I've ever heard criticize us for keeping God's word have been those in the liberal denominations. No wonder though. The people who criticized Jesus were "religious" people. We can even see ourselves having the same conversations that he had with the Jews. When we remember how he was treated, we suddenly realize that we're being treated the same way. And we find ourselves saying the same things Jesus said.

--"You're arrogant !"  -- "I'm just doing what God tells me to do."
--"You think you know it all." -- "I'm just trying to do what the Bible says."
--"You're belligerent." -- "I'm not doing what I want but what God wills for me to do."

When we hear ourselves saying things like that and defending the word of God - it will give us confidence and joy that we stand with Christ, and it's no longer we who live, but Christ lives in us.

   Paul asked in 1Cor. 3, "are you not carnal and walk as men?"

   The Christian doesn't walk as a man but walks as Jesus walked - he walks as a child of God acting like THE son of God, Jesus Christ.
John said in 

Herein is our love made complete, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world.

   If you are like Jesus, if you walk as he walked, if you have the life of Christ being formed in you - then you can have confidence to face God. It's as if heaven and earth become one to you, as you in your life portray the life of Jesus and express in your life the unity and oneness that you have with the father in him.
   If you are not a Christian, you can start today following Jesus. Go with him to the cross and by faith be immersed for the remission of your sins and begin learning of him.

(Originally delivered as a sermon in Eagle Point, OR. November 4, 1984)


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