Philippians 2:13, 15
for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure…that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world…
But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn,
which shines brighter and brighter until full day.
2 Corinthians 3:18
And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed (same word used of Jesus’ transfiguration) into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.
The capital ‘G’ Gospel is, as the kids say, on fleek1.
It’s truly on fleek when Christians shine, cuz Christians shine, pure and simple.
There’s an “if” in that statement, of course. If we live out of Christ’s Life instead of mixing Him into our own. Or, to put it like the Baptizer,
He must increase, I must decrease.
– John 3:30
For any students of Greek out there – those who know tenses of verbs matter – increase and decrease are actively present tense, meaning this absolutely characterizes the daily life of a believer. It’s an ONGOING REALITY.
Oh, and another thing, decrease is also passive which tells us this is something that happens to us…as we say yes and amen to His divine work. The sense is: if I’m fading from view Christ is showing up BIG TIME in my life!
So, what have we learned, peeps? An on-fleek Gospel is a lived-out thing. It didn’t just happen to you when you prayed a prayer long ago, it happens to you every day…as your life gets slowly subsumed by the Life of Christ in and through you.
If your little ‘g’ gospel touts a ‘one-and-done’ prayer-for-salvation and your life doesn’t radiate Christ (radiate, not reflect) and it packs no more punch than a tossed hand grenade that proves a dud, well, James the brother of Jesus might blow raspberries at such a shallow, lacking gospel2. I do too.
I’m just old school enough to believe if one truly embraces the Good News it’ll change them from the inside out. It’ll turn them upside down. There might be a lot of back and forth over time, but there will always be a ‘forth’.
Hey, I get it. I prayed a ONE TIME prayer as a miserably dead-in-my-sins thirteen year old, and that pretty much finished it for me for eternity. When I came dripping wet out of that fiberglass baptistry I started walking in new life, a life not my own. I was utterly filled up with the God of Glory who made His home in me and had His perfect righteousness imputed to my record – through no work of my own.
I was helpless, He saved me. But not just to give me heaven. No! A million bazillion times no! He gave me Himself! A back-and-forth relationship was forged. His part is His guarantee He will save me to the end and my part is to keep trusting and believing He will. He keeps saving me, I keep trusting Him to keep His word and keep me in grace.
Wait. You didn’t know salvation is more verb than noun?
If you think you can have “Life that is not this life” but stay clear of your Life Source – Jesus – through apathy, insurrection and arrogance, you’ll die and be fodder for the brush pile.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m also not one of these ‘rules and regulations’ Gospelists either. I had to toil and suffer beneath a Law-Gospel (can you say oxymoron?) in my younger years. I was saved because my hair didn’t touch my ears. I was saved because my music library had no rock percussion and devilish first-and-third beat syncopation of any kind. I was saved because I carried a Bible to school – KJV, naturally. I was saved because I attended church three times weekly. I was saved because…on and on and on, ad nauseum.
I was trying to live the Christian life, and I couldn’t. I didn’t have it in me.
CORRECTION: I did have it in me, but had to come to the end of myself before I realized it. That’s what October 2, 1981 was all about.
Dear God, I’m tired; so, so tired and can’t do it anymore. If you don’t, I don’t see how I can keep this up. I feel lost but I know I’m not. I still feel You’re here. I surrender to You. Everything. All I am. Lock, stock and barrel. I’m Yours.
That somber evening something shifted in the dark night of my soul. Clicked on, like a light switch. Dude, when I say a joy rose up in me as I rose from my belly that night, I’m saying it wasn’t a positive approach to life or even a burst of happiness, I’m saying j o y.
It’s like a weight rolled off my back and I felt light as air. As though cataracts fell off and I saw colors more vibrantly than ever before. I’m talking J-O-Y, Joy.
Wesley said he felt “strangely warmed”, Blaise Pascal called his moment “FIRE” but mine was more a serene valley of limitless calm. No earthquakes or thunder. No lightning or fire. Of course, the “fire” part would come three nights later, but the work was already done. It’s called letting go.
Come to think of it, that’s the very essence of eternal salvation.
- Letting go…of my godhood.
- Letting go…of my kingdom(s).
- Letting go…of my foolishly trying to live the Christian life in my own strength.
- Letting go…of the self-congratulatory sense that I’ve done a good enough job to warrant salvation.
I can be thick, you know. Thicker than most, even. But I’ll always relish the day the Truth of the indwelling Christ finally came to bear. The realization He didn’t just save me to make me better, happier, or more comfortable in my own skin. His salvation transfigures me (Greek, metamorphosis – the same word used of Christ’s transfiguration in Matthew 17 and Mark 9) spirit, soul, and body, in that order. The Spirit of Christ takes up residence in my spirit, then radiates (there’s that word again) outward from there, glorifying everything it touches!3
This takes time, yes. It takes time to decrease because, well, to put it bluntly, I’m not always ready to exit stage left. I love center stage, the limelight, the spots, the lead role, the works.
But I also know, if this keeps up, the play will bomb and close after a less than mediocre run.
I don’t want that. I want the Gospel to be ‘on fleek’ in me. I know that it costs, but the wage is so worth it.
If only Jesus can shine – radiate! – through me. That’s the only thing that matters.
Shine, Jesus, shine.
1on fleek: urban colloquialism invented by Chicago teen, meaning ‘on point’
2I’m referencing James’ short but dynamic epistle here, of course
3Moses’ face was lit up with God’s glory…but it faded, because he could only reflect what he’d seen; Paul says we radiate the Life of the Glory in our clay-selves (2 Cor 4:7) – like Jesus at His Transfiguration! – and it never fades but increases in luminosity! (2 Cor 3:18)