By Francis Frangipane
We must have three foundational standards as believers. One is to be people of prayer. That means our hearts are positioned to stand in the gap in prayer between the judgement and the mercy of God. Our earnest goal is to manifest the intercession of Christ Himself, where mercy triumphs over sin rather than divine wrath destroys sinners.
Another of our goals is to attain Christ’s meekness. This forever will be a goal because the moment we assume we’ve attained it; we’ve actually lost it. Yet, possessing the humility of Christ remains an ever-living passion in our spirits. Without humility, we can’t see with clarity what we lack in spiritual substance. Humility enables us to grow in all the other virtues and gifts we see manifest in Jesus.
However, the very center of our vision must be to attain the character and power of Jesus Christ. Humility helps us see what we lack; prayer helps us appropriate God’s provision for that need. Yet, the pinpoint goal is the full revelation of God’s Son manifest within a many membered body.
People define success in many ways – range of influence, souls saved, churches started, etc. However, to me the definition of a successful life is measured in how truly transformed we are to Christ’s likeness. When persecuted, do we pray? When attacked, do we turn the other cheek? When threatened by the impossible, do we trust God? When crucified, do we forgive?
You see, the issue is not how many people are attending church, but how many are becoming Christlike. The evidence of true revival is not whether we fall, jump, roar or soar, but how Christlike we are on Monday morning when we’re in the world.
Attaining Christlikeness must become our life. In His prayer in John 17, Jesus said, “This is eternal life, that they may know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent.” We cannot know who God is without first knowing Jesus Christ. To know Christ is to know God; to see Christ and what He did, is to behold the beauty of God.
Consider: Paul’s primary goal wasn’t to convert the world, but to reveal Christ to the world. He never laid out a plan to write two-thirds of the New Testament. He never sought even to become an apostle. His one singular passion was to know Jesus.
In his letter to the church in Philippi, Paul reveals the inner cause of His outward achievements. He writes, “that I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death” (Phil. 3:10). He said he counted “all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things and count them but rubbish in order that I may gain Christ” (Phil. 3:8). His love and passion for Christ produced miracles, power, virtue, revelation and conversions of sinners in the world.
Beware Of the Dogs
A mature Christian is one who sees Christlikeness as the true objective of His salvation (Phil 3:15). In contrast, Paul warned the church that there were goals that could awaken false religious fervor, which would obscure our vision of personal transformation. Thus, he wrote, “Beware of the dogs, beware of the evil workers, beware of the false circumcision” (Phil 3:2).
In the first century, dogs were not so much pets as they were scavengers, animals that fed on garbage and waste. Likewise, there are Christians who are always sniffing out what is wrong, looking for what is corrupt. They actually feed off the knowledge of other people’s failures. Paul says to beware of the dogs. Don’t become a Christian who feeds off garbage.
He also says to beware of the “false circumcision” and the “evil workers.” Under the Jewish Law, circumcision of the flesh was one of a long list of painful obligations that were necessary to be accepted by God. Paul says that all of those obligations were fulfilled in Christ. True circumcision is something God does to the heart by the Spirit (Rom 2:29). An evil worker was one who, among other things, placed upon the Christian a yoke of religious bondage instead of the yoke of Christ.
One True Goal
A time will come when every knee will bow and every tongue confess Jesus Christ is Lord. Between now and the fulfillment of that promise, the church will increasingly become Christlike. Our passion must be to know Jesus and become like Him. We must reach for this goal while we are in this world, not the next. It will not be difficult to become Christlike in heaven; God wants us Christlike on earth – at work, in our neighborhoods and in our families.
Conformity to Christ is God’s promise for each of us. Scriptures tell us that “as many as may be the promises of God, in Him they are yes” and “amen” (2 Cor 1:20). Whatever is in your heart that you are believing for, God says the answer is “yes!” That’s how much the Father loves His Son. That’s how high a price Jesus paid for us. But first, if you want the promises, you’ve got to pursue Christlikeness, for the promises are “in Him.” The first promise that God seeks to fulfill is the promise of His Son revealed through us.
The Father, who knows us intimately, is continually drawing us toward knowing Him. This is the essence of all true spiritual experience. The journey is described in the 139th Psalm:
“O Lord, Thou hast searched me and known me. Thou dost know when I sit down and when I rise up; Thou dost understand my thought from afar. Thou dost scrutinize my path and my lying down, and art intimately acquainted with all my ways.”
The word translated “scrutinize” literally means “to winnow.” God winnows our path. When a farmer winnows grain, he throws the grain and its mixture of straw and husks into the air. The kernels of wheat or barley fall into a pile on the threshing floor, while the chaff, or refuse, is blown away by the wind. David is saying that this is what God does to us. He winnows our lives, allowing the Holy Spirit to blow away our chaff, so that what remains is the pure grain of our lives, resting at His feet.
I tell you, if you are serious about wanting to be like Christ, He is going to put you in circumstances where your only true choice is to become like Him. I can think of many things that people attribute to me as being a virtue; they ask, “How did you attain such and such?” In reality, I had no choice. All my other choices were winnowed away. In Gethsemane, Jesus could indeed have had the cup of suffering removed – 12 legions of angels would have come to His aid (not that He needed angels to save Himself). Yet to save Himself from the cross would mean all mankind would be lost. Yes, He had a choice, but to save Himself was not really an alternative. Likewise, God winnows us until the chaff, flesh and even the excess baggage of our lives is removed. What remains is the most precious element of our lives: Christ in us.
In the story of the Israelites’ captivity, we find cruel taskmasters appointed over them, who afflicted the Hebrews continuously (Ex 1:11). Yet, verse 12 says that the more the taskmasters afflicted them, the more the Israelites multiplied and spread out. This is the way it is with the Lord. The more the enemy seeks to afflict you in some battle, the more Christ begins to multiply in your life and the character of Jesus spreads throughout your soul.
In the midst of God’s winnowing, we must decide to be like Jesus. There is something that happens deep inside when we say, unequivocally, that our vision and passion is the pursuit of Christlikeness. When conformity to Jesus becomes the reason we live, true revival has begun in our lives.