2017 may seem like a challenging year but for Christians this is an exciting opportunity for us to step out and be the salt and light of our community, the way Christ has called us to be. For the year ahead, DUMC’s goal and mission is encapsulated in the phrase ‘forward’. In the first two sermons of the year, Pr Chris Kam shared about living in the presence of God with thanksgiving despite the circumstances and about the great opportunity to step out.
On January 15th, Pr Chris took on the topic of the primary call of Christians; to be Christ-like. Indeed, this is reflected in the phrase Christ-ian itself. Pr Chris shared that one of the great tragedies of history can be found in the life of one of 20th-century’s inspirational figures.
Mahatma Gandhi had a great respect for Christ but the sad thing was that he was hindered in embracing Christianity in a fuller way. The reason why was captured in something he once said. “I like your Christ,’ he observed ‘but I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ. The only thing that ever kept me from being a Christian was Christians.” It is a sad thing indeed that sometimes Christians are the ones who made others turn away from God’s saving grace.
Scripture gives various injunctions to us to be imitators of Christ. In 1 Corinthians 4:16 and 11:1, Paul urged the Church to imitate the example of Christ.
Therefore I urge you to imitate me. (1 Corinthians 4:16)
Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ. (1 Corinthians 11:1)
Pr Chris shared that the vision for DUMC is to be a church who will disciple other to be like Christ. But his message can also be applied to the larger Church. For us to make disciples, we must first be able to be disciples or imitators of Christ. He shared that there are 3 steps towards making Christ-like disciples.
Firstly, we have to sink it in. That is, to understand what it is to be called to live in Christ. This is something that is expected of us because we were already baptised in the name of the Father and the Son and of the Holy Spirit when we became Christians (Matthew 28:19b). The baptism is a symbolic but significant practice that conveys the message that a person has died in his old ways, and risen again to a new life. It is an indicator that a person wants to be a part of God, in a new relationship with Him.
In John 15:5, Christ said that if we remain in Him, we will bear much fruit. Apart from him, we can do nothing. This is also a reminder during challenging times. When we chose a life with God, a transformation takes place. God works in our life to remove every impurity and self-centeredness so that we may be able to don the new garments of righteousness and live the way Christ has called us to live.
Just like how a silversmith knows that silver has become pure and is ready when it produces a mirror-like quality that reflects the silversmith’s face, so it is with Christ and us. God will burn away our impurities even through many trials but His hands are always over us until the day we become like His image.
When the truth of our relationship with Christ and our new identity has sunk in, it is time to live it out. Matthew 28:20a instructs us to teach our brothers- and sisters-in-Christ to obey everything that He has commanded us. This word teach is more than about passing on knowledge.
Discipleship involves an actual living experience. When we disciple others, it is with the goal of helping others to fix their eyes on Christ and to go from their present condition to become Christ-like. It is a purposeful process, something that is more caught than taught. We must be more intentional in the way we disciple others, and the best way is to be ourselves an imitator of Christ. When others observe us, they will catch on. This is what it means to equip others and to be equipped ourselves to live like Christ.
Unless something is passed on, it will eventually fade away. It is therefore also important that followers that have been equipped to live like Christ, be sent out to live for Christ. Indeed, this is what the Great Commandment is about. This is the primary call that God has called us to do. It is to ensure that the process of learning what it means to be an imitator of Christ does not just stay and fade away with one generation, but passed on to the next generation. And this next generation must then be able to equip the following generation and down the line.
We live in a broken world. When Christ came, He did so to bring restoration to the hurting and lost in this world. The cost that was paid was immense but He did so anyway because of His great love. He counted the cost and found it worthwhile. As disciples of Christ, we have this same calling.
‘Let’s have a heart for people,’ Pr Chris encouraged. ‘Let us bring someone to Christlikeness through our lives. Let us be a Church of intentional discipleship from generation to generation.’
NOTE: This write-up was highly inspired by a sermon shared by senior pastor Pr Chris Kam at the Sunday Service of DUMC on the 15th of January. It has not been vetted by Pr Chris or the church of DUMC. To access the original message you may visit the video page uploaded by the church at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yj5u9nCrluk
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