Images Of The Christian Life
Fisher Humphreys has done me a big favor. He has written a book which is very helpful: I Have Called You Friends—New Testament Image That Challenge Us To Live As Christ Followers. Lately, I have come across several books I thought I would write one day. This one certainly was on my list. How many times does it happen? You think you have an original thought. Then you discover someone else has thought it. There is indeed nothing new under the sun.
This book is a take-off on another one published in 1960, called Images of the Church in the New Testament by Paul Minear. What both books have in common is the fact that in the New Testament “images were thought to be the best way to understand things that are mysterious” (Humphreys, 17). Think of how many images Jesus used to convey his divine thoughts to us.
Are you game for a word/image association? If I say “church” what images pop up on the screen of your mind? ________, ________, _________, _________. Here are mine: Family, bride, saints, and followers of Christ. These images constitute the nature of the church.
Now let’s play the same game again. This time think of personal images of Christians. What pops us? (I’ll give you a couple to get you started) Disciple, Servant, _______, _______, _______, _______, _______, _______, _______, _______. How many did you come up with? Fisher Humphreys focuses on ten of these images in his book. Here are the other 8 just so you’d know: Steward, Soldier, Athlete, Traveler, Priest, Child, Friend, and Guest. This is not an exhaustive list of the images that paint a picture of the Christian life. For the next few months I will take each of these images and show them to you in words. If you think there is a series of sermons or lessons for your church in here, I agree.
But images are not the only way to describe Christian living. In Romans 12:9-13, for example, Paul uses a LIST OF RULES to teach how a Christian lives: Let love be genuine, hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good. Both Testaments use another format called WISDOM SAYINGS to paint word pictures of godly character. Take Proverbs 3:5 for example: Trust God, your understanding of life is not sufficient for godliness (Georges’ paraphrase). Can anyone top the wisdom of the attitudes of living in the kingdom of God spoken by Jesus in Matthew 5:3-9? Finally, Living la Vida Christiana, is also portrayed by a LIST OF VIRTUES. This format is extremely helpful for self-assessment. Evaluate your life in light of these Spirit-fertilized virtues: Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Another list of virtues is found in Colossians 3:8, 12.
The Bible describes Christian living in many formats. Now a list of rules, now wisdom sayings, now a list of virtues, but the greatest of all is to love and to walk with the Master.
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