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Where are you in your Christian journey? This question seems simple but it isn’t. If you never asked this question and attempted to answer it accurately, well, this is your chance. But this important task takes time and reflection before you could be able to assess your position, and locate where you stand in the spectrum of Christian growth.
If you are a Christian who reflects, thinks, and monitors his/her growth, where do you stand on this spectrum? Are you satisfied with your position or are you feeling lagging behind or even stagnated? In the latter case, what are the culprits for your delay? Are there external factors beyond your control or are these issues within? How do you intend to fix this and advance on your Christian growth, and be where God wants you to be at this stage of your Christian life?
While you’re thinking and reflecting on this, let me refresh your memory. As you know, Jesus was self-aware, and knew His place. Here is what He said about who He was: “I am the way and the truth and the life” (John 14: 6). Can you express who you’re and why you are here in this generation sharp like this?
The purpose isn’t to brag about it. You know that the world around you tries to define and label you; and in most cases, who they think you’re is far from what God says who you are. When you know yourself very well than the world around you, you’re not swayed and strayed from your true identity, which is glorious.
If you have already known who you’re, have you expressed it fully? Remember, Jesus was secure about who He was and never bothered about what others think of Him. So many times, for their dismay, He declared who He was without blinking or fear of retribution. Do you have that boldness to stand up for who you truly are? Or do you just buy into and accept whatever people say you are?
The proof of whether you’re self-aware and conscious about your true identity is simple: do you agree with what the majority of the people are saying about you? In rare cases, these two align. Many times, people tend to down grade you. If you don’t have a different perspective about who you’re than the majority of the people around you, you most probably bought into their faulty assumption concerning your true identity.
Remember, Jesus asked His disciples about who the people think He was. What happened? They got Him wrong. They lowered Him to one of the prophets. Did He agree? NO! Who was the only one who got the revelation of who Jesus really was? Peter. Why so? Because God the Father revealed the true identity of Jesus to Him. There are very few people who may get revelation about who you really are.
Nonetheless, knowing your true identity is not enough. You should also be clear about your relative position in the Kingdom of God. You should constantly measure your progress as you advance on the spectrum of Christian Growth until you become like Jesus; until you become one with Him. Here is what Jesus said about His place: I and the Father are one (John 10: 30).
Tell me the stages someone should pass starting from their introduction to the Truth, and their journey until they become one with the Truth? Jesus achieved the latter when He was walking on this planet wearing the same flesh we all wear. He is our prototype, and as Christians, our end goal should be to imitate Him.
The question to you and I is whether we know where our relative position is, and whether we are making progress to end our Christian journey like Jesus did? If we consciously and closely monitor our growth on a consistent basis, we could be able to know our progress. We should evaluate our growth and make sure we are moving forward until we reach that place of maturity where we align ourselves with the Truth.
Remember this: We won’t be able to uncover high value mysteries until we demonstrate commitment and loyalty to the ones we have already come in contact with and discovered. The more you practice the Truth you have known, and show faithfulness, the more Truth it will be released to you, and the more you advance on the spectrum of Christian growth. If you fail to acknowledge, implement, and honor the Truth you have already known, you are stuck there- no growth. While undermining and failing to live up to the expectations of the Truth God revealed to you, don’t expect Him to pour out more Truth.
In conclusion, let me ask you these follow up questions: Are you aware of where you are in your Christian growth at this stage of your life? Are you showing serious commitment to the mysteries you have uncovered so far? Do you show some efforts (like taking time to read the Word, think, reflect, etc.) on a consistent basis to gain more access to the mysteries that are at the next level? Are you determined to reach the level of maturity Jesus achieved while He was on earth? Are you ready to continually show commitment to learn more and practice whatever you learned? Have you decided to pay all the prices required to respect and abide to the Truth you have already uncovered so far? Have you vowed to be a humble lifetime learner until you become one with the Truth?
Many Christians are molded to think, pray, and behave in certain ways that don’t look right. They’re commanded to abide to certain dogmas and doctrines. It would have been okay if these impositions were designed to empower and nurture the believers, and result in growth in the various aspects of their life.
Sadly, many of these burdens limit how they perceive and interact with God. They chock them in one place and restrain them from growing and becoming like Jesus- our prototype.
AHM is a ministry called to restore individuals to the image of Jesus. The ministry doesn’t limit or dictate how people interact with God.
Jesus walked on this planet and demonstrated how we should fellowship with the Father. He was in a very close relationship with His Father. He carried Himself as a Son, not as a servant. He said what He heard, and did what He saw.
How do you perceive God? Do you embrace Him as your Father? Do you interact with Him on a consistent basis? Do you follow your heart or do you always attempt to follow dogmas and doctrines that limit your perception about God and your fellowship with Him?
This is time to walk like sons and daughters of the Most High. The hour is now to break man-made limitations, and flow with the Spirit of God. It isn’t too late to change lane, make U-turn, adjust gear, etc.
Character is the cornerstone of our leadership. People may be impressed by our resilience, for instance, but it takes character to earn the trust of others. We may be strong to confront giant challenges but we may be unwilling or unprepared to withstand little character temptations. That is why many heroes and heroines who were committed enough to give their lives for the thing they believed in ended up trapped when they failed the character test.
Your boldness alone cannot make you a great leader. With boldness, you should have strong ethical and moral character. People may admire and worship you for your courage and resilience but for them to trust and follow you; they want to make sure that you have a decent character. When you become a leader, you need both courage and character if your desire is to influence others and succeed on an ongoing basis.
In this edition of Restorers Connector, I would like to share with you how Jesus demonstrated character that beautified His leadership. Below is the excerpt from the last part of the book where I featured three great leaders from three different industries: Religion (Jesus), Corporation (Jobs), and Politics (Mandela):
“…Jesus had a very strong character. Because of his character, he earned authenticity, credibility, and the trust of his followers for more than two thousand years. He respected the moral codes of his generation, the Ten Commandments (Matthew 5: 17). His famous statement: “Do to others as you would have them do to you.” (Luke 6: 31) has been adopted by many including those who aren’t Christians by faith. He demonstrated an extraordinary character when he forgave the people who were killing him (Luke 23: 34). Jesus was so sure about his character that, at one point, he asked his accusers, “Can any of you prove me guilty of sin?” (John 8: 46)
As a leader, Jesus had also established core values and principles to his leadership. He identified ethical and moral values, some of which were counter-cultural. For example, in the 1st C Mediterranean culture, you love those who love you and hate those who hate you. In spite of this, Jesus pronounced his value toward love even to those who hate us. Seeking prominence was also valued. However, Jesus came along and valued service over prominence. He was a values-centered leader and created a values-centered team.
Let’s use the following four commonly acceptable character elements to measure Jesus’ character: Love, integrity, loyalty, and humility. His love was expressed in compassion and forgiveness. He was compassionate to the people who were out casted and despised by the community as sinners and tax collectors. He hung out with these people. While he was eating at one of the tax collectors home, the religious elites murmured about why he hung out with sinners. He replied, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.” (Matthew 9: 12) In Matthew 9: 36, it was written, “When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” In another occasion, “When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd; he had compassion on them and healed their sick.” (Matthew 14: 14) When Peter asked him how many times he should forgive someone who has done me wrong, Jesus replied, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.” (Matthew 18: 22) He also taught about forgiveness by saying, “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.” (Matthew 5: 23 – 24) He also loved the world including his enemies. He prayed for the people who crucified him by saying, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23: 34)
He walked the talk and demonstrated integrity. For instance, in the beginning of his ministry, after fasting for forty days, he was tempted to do certain things he didn’t believe. He maintained his integrity and refuted the temptations successfully (Matthew 4: 1 – 11). He also said I have come to serve, and therefore, he served even to the extent of washing the feet of his disciples.
Jesus was loyal to his Father and his followers. He said, “I always do what pleases Him.” (John 8:29) Once when he was criticized by the religious elites, he answered: “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.” (John 5: 19) He also said, “For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of Him who sent me.” (John 6: 38) Jesus finished his assignment loyally, and finally settled an account with the One who sent him: “I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.” (John 17: 4 -5)
Jesus himself said, “I am humble.” (Matthew 11:29) The Apostle Paul gave a testimonial about Jesus’ humility when he wrote, “He humbled himself by becoming obedient to death- even death on a cross!” (Philippians 2: 8) He showed humility at different levels. John the Baptist who was then a celebrity insisted that he shouldn’t baptize Jesus. “Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. But John tried to deter him, saying, ‘I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?’” (Matthew 3: 13 – 14) Jesus humbled himself and was baptized by John. He told his disciples that you could do more than I have done. He washed the feet of his disciples. All of these and more attitudes, and deeds demonstrate that he was a humble leader.
Not only did he have great character, he taught about character development in Matthew 5: 3 – 12. He also put forward on how to measure the character of others, by their fruits. He explained this wisdom in Matthew 7: 18: “A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit…Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.” In another occasion, he said, “Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit…For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks. The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him.” (Matthew 12: 33 – 35)”