- The Washington Times - Monday, February 26, 2001

Excerpts from a sermon given Saturday by the Rev. Jerry Lutz at Spencerville Seventh-day Adventist Church.

In Paul's letter to the Colossians [1:27], he made a big deal of the idea that when we accept Christ as our savior, we literally take Him in. He becomes part of our nature and transforms us. Have you ever thought of what Paul meant by "Christ in you?"

There's a story of some salesmen who once rushed through O'Hare Airport to catch a flight, and they kicked over a table where a little girl was selling apples. You can picture what happened.

One of the men felt so guilty that he got off the plane and went back. He found the girl on her knees, tears in her eyes, and when he got closer he saw that she was blind. He put the bruised apples in a separate basket, and pulled out $20. "I hope this covers the damage," he said. "I hope we didn't spoil your day too badly." As he walked away, the girl called out, "Mister, are you Jesus?" It stopped him dead. "No," he said, "I'm just me."

If someone was going to accuse you of anything, is there a better person to be taken for? It reminds us of who we are when we try to be one of Jesus' followers. The Apostle John also spoke of what Paul meant by "Christ in you."

John tried to develop this idea of what it really means to follow Christ [I John 2:4-6], and he uses some strong language. "Whoever says I have come to know Him, but do not obey His commandments, is a liar," John said. "He who says he abides in Him ought to walk in the same way in which He walked."

God wants an authentic Christian to correlate the knowledge of God with doing His will. John struggles against the idea that Christianity is mentally knowing about God or simply having an emotional experience. He is saying that love of Jesus Christ motivates us to walk in his footsteps… .

When I was growing up in Fresno, California, I wanted to play professional baseball. I was a fan of the San Francisco Giants, and my hero was Willie Mays, the center fielder. I wanted to imitate my hero. I wanted to be him. I bought a Willie Mays glove, and I stood exactly like him at bat.

It seems that John is saying the same: If Jesus is our hero, we are to imitate Him. We should go where He calls us to go, be what He wants us to be. What is there about Jesus that is not attractive? What wouldn't we want to emulate? John said, "I want to be like Jesus."

Now, before John followed Jesus he was called "son of thunder" for his temper. Later he became "the beloved disciple." We see his transformation from being proud and independent to a man who wrote the Gospel. He wrote the epistles and received God's revelation on the island of Pathmos. He was walking in the footsteps of Jesus.

The Scottish scholar of the Bible William Barclay said, "Christianity is the religion which offers the greatest privilege, and brings with it the greatest obligations." To walk as Jesus did does not mean to abandon our intellectual development or our personal experience. We might do good works, but without that love, we might begrudge it. We may be tempted to think that our work makes us righteous in God's eyes, when only God's grace can give us that.

But the heart experience with Jesus Christ must end for all of us in moral action, service to others. The epistle of James tells us, "Faith without works is dead." John, who lived with Jesus, had some very specific ideas of how we should walk in His footsteps. He says you certainly cannot hate your brother or have animosity against your neighbor.

He says, "We know love by this, that He laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for one another." How does God's love abide in anyone who "has the world's goods, and sees a brother or sister in need and then refuses to help"? John is pointing out the disconnect that many Christians have, and John is trying to help us bring it together.

Next week: a sermon by the Rev. Harold D. Lewis at Lincoln Park United Methodist Church in the Districtof Columbia.

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