Tuesday, September 26 2023 - 3:32 AM

The Seventh-day Adventist Church in the Pacific Southwest

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Kindness is Christ Within

One Sunday morning in the Church of God, I went to the altar when I was twelve years old and felt called to ministry. But I walked away frustrated and upset because I knew that God couldn’t accept me. I knew I wasn’t good enough, and I knew all about my sins. I repeated that process many times through my early teen years and finally I gave up and just went the way of the world.

Only Christ Is Good Enough

Years later my life was a mess, but I went to a Heritage Singers concert, and as the appeal was given, I was overcome by a compulsion to respond. As I did I physically felt the warmth and acceptance of my Heavenly Father. Within a few months I left my current job and enrolled at Pacific Union College to prepare for ministry.

Now I really began to put energy into changing my lifestyle and purposefully trying to be the person God wanted me to be. I did enter ministry and have now pastored full time for over 45 years and continue to engage in part-time ministry in a variety of endeavors.

What I have learned over this span of time is that all of my efforts to be good, to be kind, to be patient and always loving have been frustrating failures. I still know all about my sins and I still know I am not good enough. The reality is that I will never be good enough, but the good news, of course, is that Jesus Christ is good enough and He has covered my entire life with His.

Being One in Him

Not long ago I began to focus on the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Christ’s desire is not just to atone for our sins and cover us with His righteousness, but to actually, literally, occupy us and live His presence in and through us. Take the time to read John 17: 20-26. This is Jesus actually praying for you and me today.  He prays not just for those present at the moment, but for all who will believe through their message. That’s us! His prayer is that we may be one in Him. He closes by saying, “that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them” (John 17:26, NIV).

Later, Paul, in his letter to the Colossians, talks about the mystery that was hidden, or unfulfilled, for ages, but is now known. The unveiling of this mystery reveals that “Christ in you, (is) the hope of glory”  (Colossians 1:27, NIV).

Follow that up with this gem: “Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come” (2 Corinthians 1:21.22, NIV).

When Jesus was no longer able to live “with” us, His desire was to live “in” us! This is not just a figure of speech, but a literal reality. He wants to occupy His territory and we are now His purchased possession.

A Living Sacrifice

I know what you’re thinking. Yes, we have made that commitment. We have given our lives to Him. We have been baptized and become a new creation as it explains in 2 Corinthians 5:17, but I find that old life always wanting to come back. I find myself being unkind, unloving, and self absorbed. Praise God with me for Romans 12: 1, 2!  I can repeatedly present my body as a living sacrifice as my act of worship simply by the renewing of my mind. I can be transformed into His likeness rather than be conformed to the world by the renewing of my mind. As I do that throughout the day, He continues to dwell in me and live through me.

Through Christ’s creative power I am recreated into His likeness. It is not an act established by my will or my power, but by His command. “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus!” (Philippians 2:5, KJV) By the same power that said, “Let there be light…let there be land…let there be beasts and fowls, and creatures…and it was so,” God declares, “Let this mind be in you!”

As I recognize my desire for this and top that with His desire for this, I simply receive His gift day by day and moment by moment. When I find myself behaving in any unkind way I choose to renew my mind and I am His again immediately.

A Hymn: My Constant, Meditative Theme

I love the hymn by Edwin Hatch written in 1878, but healing my heart every day as I make it my constant meditative theme. Make it yours too and embrace the literal, living, indwelling presence of Christ in you, your hope, your promise of glory!

Breathe on me breath of God

Fill me with life anew

That I may love what Thou hast loved

And do what Thou wouldst do.

Breathe on me breath of God

Until my heart is pure

Until with Thee I will one will

To do and to endure.

Breathe on me breath of God

Till I am wholly thine

Until this earthly part of me

Glows with Thy fire divine.

Breathe on me breath of God

So shall I never die

But live with Thee the perfect life

Of Thine eternity

Marvin Wray writes from Northern California.

If you enjoyed this, you may also enjoy Who Gets the Blessing? 

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About Marvin Wray

Marvin Wray

writes from Northern California.

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