Episode 1. Christ on the Inside
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Imagine having a job where you had to try to convince people of something you yourself didn’t really believe. That’d be a tough gig don’t you think. And yet that’s how many a Christian feels …
Imagine having a job where you had to try to convince people of something you yourself didn’t really believe. That’d be a tough gig don’t you think. And yet that’s how many a Christian feels about telling others about Jesus. Because they themselves haven’t been convinced that He really makes a difference in their lives – on the inside – how can they tell others about Him?
One of the things that we know is, that you and I we are what we eat. So if what we do is pig out on chocolates, man I love chocolate, but we know that too much is bad for us. And fatty foods and sweet and sugary drinks and lots of cakes and sweets, all that stuff, if we pig out on that stuff then who we are on the inside is going to change.
We’re going to put on weight. Our emotions will take a down swing, that’s what too much sugar does. We become lethargic and tired and won’t be able to cope. Our heart will have to work harder to get the blood around the larger body and our coronary arteries are going to get clogged up and the sugar will go up in our blood. On and on and on the list goes.
The impact is that we have less of life to live now because we’re always tired and not feeling well and our life expectancy is going to be reduced. On the other hand, if we get a great mix of healthy cereals and grains and brightly coloured vegetables and lean meat, all that stuff which actually tastes fantastic, the complete opposite is going to happen.
What happens on the inside has a huge impact on what happens on the outside. Who we are on the inside, whether it’s physically, emotionally or spiritually, has a huge impact on who we are on the outside. And the up shot of it all is we simply can’t be one thing on the inside and try to be something else on the outside. You know what? It just doesn’t work.
This week and next week on the program we’re having a bit of a chat about living our lives out here on earth as ambassadors of Christ. Because that’s what anyone who believes in Jesus is called to be. We are citizens of heaven, not of this earth and as Paul the Apostle writes, 2 Corinthians chapter 5, verse 20:
We are ambassadors for Christ since God is making His appeal through us.
But as I said, you can’t be one thing on the inside and pretend to be another thing on the outside. You can’t be Swedish on the inside and pretend to be the Indian ambassador on the outside. We can’t be the devil on the inside and pretend to be an angel of light on the outside. Well maybe we can for a while but I suspect it’s incredibly hard work carrying on that sort of a deception and it doesn’t take long for who we really are to make it’s way to the outside. As Jesus Himself said:
It’s out of the heart that evil intentions, murder, adultery, fornication, theft, false witness and slander actually come. (Matthew chapter 15, verse 19)
So if we’re going to be ambassadors of Christ then first we have to be citizens of heaven on the inside. Just as the Indian ambassador has to be Indian and not Swedish on the inside. Interesting how God talked about this through His Prophet Ezekiel to His people. He talked to them about what was going on in their hearts. Have a listen, Ezekiel chapter 18, verse 31:
Cast away from you all the transgressions that you have committed against me and get yourselves a new heart and a new spirit. Why will you die O house of Israel?
A new heart. I think we know what God means but that’s not so much an expression that we use these days. The expression we might use is a change of heart. You and I know what that means. Unless something happens deep inside our hearts on the inside we can’t change on the outside.
But you know there have been issues, transgressions, sins in my life that try as I may I couldn’t change my heart myself. I’m guessing you’ve had that experience too, we all have. And that’s why God made this promise too to His people through Ezekiel. Ezekiel chapter 36, verse 26. He says:
A new heart I will give you and a new spirit I will put within you and I will remove from your body the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.
In fact, perhaps you want to be an ambassador of Christ but there’s something, right now, going on in your heart. Something that you can’t change for yourself that you need God to do for you. If you have that why don’t you pray this prayer with me right now.
Our Father God
This word of yours well you’re putting your finger right on one of the deepest needs in my life. You and I both know what that is and you know how I’ve struggled to change my heart. I’ve tried my hardest but I can’t and so I come to you in faith and I pray for your will as Ezekiel chapter 36, verse 26 for a new heart, a change of heart.
Take out the heart of stone O God and replace it with a heart of flesh. Take out of me the spirit that is causing me to sin and fill me with your Holy Spirit. I come to you in faith; I believe that what I’ve asked you, you will give me because I’m asking you in the name of Jesus. Amen.
I encourage you, if you prayed that prayer with me to believe, just simply to believe that God will give you the good thing that you have asked for. And He will, that’s what He says He will do and He never, ever, ever fails on His word, ever.
When the Apostle Paul was sharing the good news about Jesus with the folk in Athens he quoted a poem about a Greek god and applied it to Jesus. This is what he said in Acts chapter 17, verse 28. He said:
For in Him we live and move and have our being.
You know, for me that says it all. It’s about being totally, totally immersed in Christ, about being drenched in Him. That’s actually the literal meaning of the word ‘baptised’ or ‘baptism’. The original word is baptidso. When a boat was lost in a storm and it went under and sank it was said to have been baptidso’d.
When a fabric was dyed in new colour it was plunged into the dye and completely drenched and completely changed to a new colour when it came out. It was said to have been baptidso’d. That’s exactly what the Apostle Paul writes to his friends in Rome. Romans chapter 6, beginning at verse 3:
Do you not know that all of us who have been baptised into Christ were baptised into His death? Therefore we’ve been buried with Him in baptism into death so that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.
It means death to the old life and living a new life, literally to be born again. A whole new heart filled with a new spirit, the spirit of God, the Holy Spirit. It means that goodness replaces evil. Not so much because we work hard at it but because we’ve had a change of heart and now we want to honour God and that’s a gift from God.
We want to live a life that brings glory to Him and it’s that new life that we’re going to talk about a bit more tomorrow. It’s that new life that wins people over to Christ. It’s that new life that shines a light and brings flavour into people’s lives like salt. But just as a well is dry it can’t bring forth water, so a life that is empty of Christ, His very Spirit, His very presence within us, so that life simply can’t be an ambassador of Christ.
If there are things that you’ve been struggling with in on the inside, things that are holding you back from taking up your commission as Christ’s ambassador in your little petunia patch then here’s what I encourage you to do? Get with God. Get in prayer. Open His Word. Ask Him to fill you to overflowing with His Holy Spirit. Ask Him again and again to give you a new heart.
And just as we prayed before, just as I said before, He surely will. Because He wants to. Because as you bear much fruit in your life, it will bring glory to God. A new heart, a change of heart filled with a new spirit, His spirit. That is God’s will for my life and that my friend is God’s will for your life.