It is the goal of the Christian to live a life that completely fulfill’s God’s purpose. To understand that purpose we turn to the Scriptures. We read devotionals, we diligently study the text and we repeatedly hear the Scriptural exhortations of others in preaching. We also do our best to memorize the Word, and to seek to apply it in all circumstances. The more we do that, the closer to our ideal we come. But Christians will readily admit that in spite of all of our preparation, we still fall short of the text.
Put simply, we sin. Thankfully, the Lord forgives when we confess our sins (1John 1:9) and cleanses us anew. As we learn how to overcome temptation and as we grow in maturity, we sin less and less often. But no matter how we try, we cannot seem to fulfill even a short and simple instruction like, “Be holy,” with lasting consistency. Even if that command is repeated throughout Scripture (Lev 11:44, 45, 19:2, 20:7, 1Cor 1:2, Eph 1:4, Heb 12:14, 1Pet 1:15, 16). If that is so with a two-word instruction repeated at least 9 times, how can we hope to live out the entirety of the Word? For those are but two, and the Bible has around ¾ of a million words (give and take a few, depending on the version you are using).
To be sure, Christ did not fail to live it all out. Of Him, we read, “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” Full of grace, and full of truth! Truly Jesus did live out His prophetic announcement in Matthew 5:17, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” Jesus fulfilled ALL of the Word. His was complete identification with the whole Word of God, so much so that it is totally accurate to say that He is the Word, made flesh.
Yet if He is that, what of us? Can we identify with at least part of the the Word of God? If not a command like “Be Holy”, surely at least another, perhaps lesser demanding part of Scripture?
Most Christians have a life verse. Life verses are verses that resonate with our soul – they are useful and significant. Some had a verse given to them prophetically by the one who led them to Christ. For others, it is a single verse that’s repeatedly come to them as they’ve sought God. In both cases it is a verse which has – in addition to its inherent value as Scripture – a deeply personal attraction, a verse that seems to define one’s spiritual purpose in some capacity. We call it a life verse because we find ourselves repeatedly reflecting on it – over and over again throughout our lives. It is as though our whole lives echo it in some way, so that it becomes ‘our’ verse.
Yet with age, one can look back and see that most often it was not actually we ourselves trying to live out that verse so much as it was the circumstance of our lives that repeatedly reflected it back to us. That is because it is never us who actually live out the Word. It is Christ – living in us by His Spirit – who is actively fulfilling that verse through us.
Of course, to recognize that is largely a private matter. Others only see that as we speak of our life verse and testify to how we are experiencing it being fulfilled though us. Yet if we can see a verse of Scripture in our own experience and testify to it being so, we can surely know that it is Christ – living in all of us by His Spirit – that purposes to live out every Word of God through His people (the body whole). Including His commands – even up to and including ‘Be holy”!
That understanding of His Word helps put our eyes on the value of the collective whole, and of the great value in discipling others. For unless the whole body is discipled, the whole body will not accurately reflect Him to a lost and dying world. Therefore the Christ-follower has two obligations: to grow in personal discipleship that His Word can be reflected in us all the more, and to help disciple our brothers and sisters in Christ, that the whole world would recognize Him working in their midst. Amen.
The best obedience is that which develops from love for Christ and attempts to reflect Christ’s own obedience.J. .E. McDermond
What is your life verse? When was the last time you saw that lived out in your own experience? How can you live it out today?