Tim Tebow is one of the best-known Christians in America. A Heisman Trophy winner and two-time national champion at the University of Florida, he quarterbacked the Denver Broncos to the second round of the NFL playoffs before stints with the New York Jets and the New England Patriots.
Next, he turned his attention to baseball, a game he hadn’t played since high school. He made his minor league’s all-star game this year; fans were hoping the New York Mets would call him up to the major leagues. Then he broke a bone in his right hand and is expected to have season-ending surgery today.
Tebow has used sports as a platform for his passionate Christian faith. In response, skeptics have relentlessly mocked his sexual integrity and commitment to prayer and Scripture. Despite such ridicule, Tebow’s integrity has consistently glorified God and advanced his kingdom.
There’s a lesson here for us: if we want to serve our Lord in a skeptical culture, our lives must match our message.
Broken sprinkler heads
I was walking in our neighborhood recently and paused on a footbridge that spans a small stream. It is one of my favorite places to visit each morning.
On this occasion, however, my eye was drawn to a white styrofoam cup floating on the water. My frustration at someone’s negligence became the focus of my thoughts rather than the beauty of God’s creation.
A little farther, I came across a broken sprinkler head spewing water into the air. Its owners clearly did not know that they were wasting water in this way.
Then I realized that, all too often, I have allowed the same in my soul. God wants to speak his truth through me, but I can allow bits of trash in my life to distract from his glory. I have “broken sprinkler heads” that others see but I do not.
The same may be true of you today.
This is not how our Father intends us to live. He wants us to “be holy, for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:16). In fact, he wants us to be like Jesus (Romans 8:29).
In The Problem of Pain, C. S. Lewis notes: God’s will for us “is not only to prostration and awe; it is to a reflection of the Divine life, a creaturely participation in the Divine attributes which is far beyond our present desires. We are bidden to ‘put on Christ,’ to become like God.”
The “great marvel” of salvation
What does it mean for us to “become like God”?
The answer is not to become more religious. Jeremiah described to God the outwardly pious people of his day: “You are near in their mouth and far from their heart” (Jeremiah 12:2). It is not striving to be more like Jesus through human efforts.
It is a question of impartation, not imitation.
Oswald Chambers explains: “Sanctification means the impartation of the Holy qualities of Jesus Christ. It is His patience, His love, His holiness, His faith, His purity, His godliness, that is manifested in and through every sanctified soul. Sanctification is not drawing from Jesus the power to be holy; it is drawing from Jesus the holiness that was manifested in Him, and He manifests it in me.”
In this sense, “Sanctification is an impartation, not an imitation.”
Chambers adds: “Jesus Christ came to put into any man who would let Him a new heredity which would exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees. . . . No man can make himself pure by obeying laws. Jesus Christ does not give us rules and regulations; His teachings are truths that can only be interpreted by the disposition He puts in.”
In other words, “The great marvel of Jesus Christ’s salvation is that He alters heredity. He does not alter human nature; He alters its mainspring.”
How to live your best life
How can you and I experience this new “heredity” Jesus has given us?
It begins with a decision. Paul said it best: “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me” (Galatians 2:20). We decide to die to ourselves, to take up our cross daily (Luke 9:23), to let Jesus live in our bodies as fully as he lived in his earthly body.
When we do this, we will say with Paul: “The life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (v. 20b). Paul is still alive, but he is living in complete reliance on Jesus. In return, Jesus is living in and through Paul.
Of course, Satan will do all he can to keep us from manifesting Jesus to the world. One of his strategies is to claim that if we live crucified lives, we’ll become robots controlled by God, shells in which the Lord lives as though we no longer exist.
The opposite is actually true: the more we surrender our lives to Jesus, the more we live our best lives.
He removes the dirt and grime from us like a restorer who returns a masterpiece to its intended condition (1 John 1:9). Then he empowers the spiritual gifts he has given us as a flame ignites wood. His Spirit brings out the best in us as salt brings out the taste of food and light reveals the beauty of wildflowers hidden by the night.
Our Lord speaks to us rationally (2 Timothy 3:16-17), intuitively (2 Corinthians 12:9), and practically (1 Corinthians 16:9). At times, he speaks through us to others (Luke 12:12). As we work, he works. As we give him our best, he makes us our best.
Are you “crucified with Christ” today?