Reflecting the Original
Discovering the power of Christ in our daily lives
By Daniela Gelbrich
We are put off by those whose lives contradict their theories or beliefs, and we are repelled by professed Christians who take advantage of people’s trust. Though humans cannot be an example of perfection, in a broken world we are desperately in need of people who demonstrate in real-life values that are intimately linked with God and His kingdom.
Freedom From Self
We live in a world of rapid change, where values are created and dropped according to the whims of convenience or human philosophy. As Seventh-day-Adventists we are destined to lead others to an encounter with the ever-existing God. In fact, we are called to be living examples of the power of a loving God who desires to redeem us from evil. Despite this, reality catches up with us. As fallen people, separated from God, we behave according to our brokenness. We feel the void, triggered by the existence of evil in our hearts, and search for a meaningful life. Often our number-one priority is “I,” and we are ready to defend our interests at any cost. We are self-centered.
We are called to be a godly people who think, feel, and act in harmony with the principles of heaven. For the Spirit to recreate in us the character of our Lord we involve ourselves only in those things which will produce Christlike purity, health, and joy in our lives. This means that our amusement and entertainment should meet the highest standards of Christian taste and beauty. While recognizing cultural differences, our dress is to be simple, modest, and neat, befitting those whose true beauty does not consist of outward adornment but in the imperishable ornament of a gentle and quiet spirit. It also means that because our bodies are the temples of the Holy Spirit, we are to care for them intelligently. Along with adequate exercise and rest, we are to adopt the most healthful diet possible and abstain from the unclean foods identified in the Scriptures. Since alcoholic beverages, tobacco, and the irresponsible use of drugs and narcotics are harmful to our bodies, we are to abstain from them as well. Instead, we are to engage in whatever brings our thoughts and bodies into the discipline of Christ, who desires our wholesomeness, joy, and goodness. (Rom. 12:1, 2; 1 John 2:6; Eph. 5:1-21; Phil. 4:8; 2 Cor. 10:5; 6:14-7:1; 1 Peter 3:1-4; 1 Cor. 6:19, 20; 10:31; Lev. 11:1-47; 3 John 2.)Somewhere beyond Eden, we have to find redemption. We need healing from the wound evil has inflicted on us. As Christians, however, we can look beyond the limits of human brokenness. We see God’s unique plan to restore broken humanity to its true dignity. As Christians we believe in a God who liberates us from evil, who brings us into His covenant, and enables us to adore Him as the only true God—He provides the remedy for our existential problems. That is why, relying completely upon God’s grace, we are called to be a godly people who think, feel, and act in harmony with the values of heaven. Indeed, redemption and Christian behavior go hand in hand. The reality of redemption implies a profound character change and freedom from the bondage of selfishness. Humanity is destined to be holy as God is holy, on all levels of human existence (Lev. 11:44; 19:2; 20:26; 1 Peter 1:6).
The Image of the Invisible God
We were created in the image of God. Therefore, God sent His Son, who “is the image of the invisible God” (Col. 1:15), thus revealing the meaning and content of true human dignity. How did the Son of God, who is the image of the invisible God, relate to human beings trapped in self-righteousness and self-deception? How did He point humanity to a greater and more worthy cause? The answer is simple: He lived. He revealed His Father in His daily life, He shared, and He was only dependent on the Father. Jesus did not entrust Himself to human beings, for He knew their brokenness (John 2:24, 25). Nonetheless, He was close to humanity, acquainted with their woes and trials. He put His trust solely in His Father. He did not define Himself in the light of other people’s opinion.
He was grounded in God, living in constant connection with His heavenly Father and exhibiting the values of God’s government in His life. In fact, His life showed that authentic faith reveals itself in all the aspects of human existence. Jesus showed no favoritism, but instead considered everyone as equally valuable. Indeed, He “was moved with compassion for them, because they were like sheep not having a shepherd” (Mark 6:34). He cared deeply, He was involved, and He did not drive away those who came to Him (John 6:37). He was free to love unconditionally, remaining a true friend despite being forsaken, denied, and rejected. He loved human beings without ever condoning evil or the slightest expression of injustice. His love was not blind but real.
He was humanity’s humble servant, choosing to serve freely without ever becoming their slave or sport. “When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly” (1 Peter 2:23, NIV).* His personal life was not His supreme value, but instead He lived exclusively for God. It was more important to Him to live up to His Father’s values and reveal His Father’s heart than to stand up for His rights. His words and actions coincided. As the ambassador of heaven, where true love and justice reigned supreme, He meant what He said and said what was true (Matt. 5:21-26).
As Christians we profess to follow Jesus and therefore belong to God. We have been redeemed for a life that is designed after God’s values. God’s character is our point of reference for true love and maturity. We know that it takes courage to swim against the tide and to renounce the alluring pleasures of sin. As we are confronted with our brokenness, we admit that we are in desperate need of a redeeming and sin-pardoning God. He enables us to lead a life reflecting Christ’s character. In order to do so, we need a close walk with Christ. We also need to spend time to reflect on God and who He really is. We must be willing to question ourselves and have a biblically informed sensitivity to what is in harmony with God and what is not. We should depend on the God of Israel and His unfailing Word because this enables us to seize the beauty and freedom of a life centered in Christ. Christian behavior is intricately linked to a character shaped in God, illuminating all aspects of human life. This is what our broken world needs.
* Scripture quotations credited to NIV are from the Holy Bible, New International Version. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Daniela Gelbrich, Ph.D., is professor of Old Testament at Friedensau Adventist University in Germany.