Romans 8:29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.
I have not been wearing my wedding ring here lately. My joint has been killing me right where my ring hits, so I am taking a break from wearing it. Now does that mean I get to take a break from my marriage? Since I do not have that little chunk of silver on my finger does that make my vows worthless, does it mean that since I am not waving the married flag, it does not count? Better question, when I do wear it, am I now somehow magically bound by the mysterious powers of the metal that encircles my finger, and now I am unable to do any wrong? I think we all know the answer to that. That ring means nothing. It is nothing more than a way to convey a status to the world of what my intentions are, not necessarily how I am living. What I do with it off, or on is up to me. The outward appearance has nothing to do with the internal. I am what I was led to be, married. Ring, or no ring, it all still counts, and people will know my marital status, not by the ring, but by my actions.
Folks, we are not called to admire Christ, we are not called to be His cheerleaders…..he does not need them! No, God made us in His, and His Sons image, and we are called to be Christ like. We are called to emulate Him, not just admire. However, just like my wedding ring, many folks today seem to think that just because we wear the right ring, have the correct bumper sticker, go to the right Church, drink or eat the right things, or sing the right songs then we are Christ like. I know many people who are flying the Jesus flag, yet just like the guy with the cowboy hat that has never been on a horse……they are all hat, and no cattle. We have fallen it to the trap of being more worried about how we are perceived than worried about how we are LIVING like Christ. This is not some lengthy admonishment about how we terrible of a job we are doing. It is more of a desperate plea for us to each stop and look at our lives. You see, Christ never really cared what others thought about Him. He cleaved to the one and only truth. The Truth of His Father. He did not care where He preached that Word. In a boat, in a Synagogue, by a lake, on a hill, or in the house of a sinner. He did not care if those around Him were Samarian, Jew, or Roman. He showed love for His Father, and Love for each and every person around Him. Here is where we find the key. It is not a matter of where we are at, or what we are wearing. It does not matter if we find ourselves surrounded by Christians, or Atheists. We must be what we were called to be…… conformed to the image of Christ.
Does that mean that I have to have an Ichthus (Jesus Fish) sticker on my car? Do I have to belong to the Church that is deemed the “right” one in my circle? No. If I shout Jesus from the rooftops, and say I believe, will that mean that I am “in”. Nope, even the devil believes in Christ…matter of fact I would bet that the devil believes in Christ more than a lot of people today. Saying you are married does not make you married, saying you are sober does not cure the alcoholic, calling a dog’s tail a leg, does not mean that a dog has 5 legs.
We have been given a gift, we have been shown the greatest amount of love that anyone could be shown. When we least deserved it, we were given what we did not deserve on our best day! In return all we can do is try to live the life that the Lord has planned for us, and that life is one that looks as close to Christ’s as we can get. No, it is not easy, yes, we will have days that we will fail miserably at it. But it is not that ring or the bumper sticker that will define your walk with Christ. It will be defined, and a testimony to all around you, when they see you struggle, but continue on, when you fall, and get back up, when you falter, and reach out to the Lord for stability. When we return love for hate, compassion, for scorn. When we are seen nailing our lives to the Cross of Christ, standing on the rock, dirt under our fingernails from clawing our way back up, torn shirts from navigating the thorn bushes, and holes in the knees of our pants from praying for the help, guidance, grace, peace and strength needed to make it another day. A ring will not make you married, and a bumper sticker will not make you a Christian. Both take a lifetime of selflessness, just like the life that Christ led.