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Without a Christlike Posture, our Christian Practices Don’t Matter

My Mum and I were looking through some pictures the other day and we were joking that there was no mistaking that my stepfather was a police officer. His carriage, his posture, his stance all made it very clear that he was law enforcement. One of my stepbrothers followed in his footsteps and like his Dad, became a detective. But there is no mistaking he is a police officer, too.

It got me to thinking as we have been studying the Marks of a Disciple on Wednesday nights. This study covers six different measurements for growth as a follower of Christ and the first week we learned about repentance and how we need to have a posture, or a lifestyle, of repentance as His children. This really resonated with me and I found myself coming across the words ‘posture’ and ‘lifestyle’ a lot in my devotions and readings. In fact one thing I read, became my title for today: a pastor in the US said this:
“You can pray before meals but be a jerk to the waitstaff. You can read your Bible every morning but go to work and exploit people. You can ‘evangelize’ on street corners but ignore unhoused folks next to you. Without a Christlike posture, our Christian practices don’t matter.” That really made me think, what does a Christlike posture look like and do I reflect that?

Please do not think that I am standing up here proclaiming that I do these all well, consistently or as I always know I should. If anything, preparing to speak this morning has reminded me that I am so flawed and fall short of the mark but how that also makes me all the more grateful and thankful for God’s grace and forgiveness.

I want to share what I discovered as I dug into this, but first let us pray.

So, let’s talk about posture. Our posture is how we hold our various body parts – head, neck, spine, shoulders, hips and feet. All of this produces a stance. A stance sends a message... it could one of confidence, defiance, insecurity, boredom, uncomfortableness. Medical professionals all agree that good posture is comprised of a number of different things... our posture when we sit, when we stand, when we lie down, when we bend, and when we move in general. We have to be mindful of how we move in all these different ways to maintain good posture. It reminded me of verses 4-9 from Deuteronomy 6 that is often read at baby dedications: “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”

God’s command is to be on their hearts, on their hand, between their eyes, spoken about as they walk, sit, lie and rise. What is left? Nothing. In other words, their stance or posture, was to reflect their love for God.

How do we do this? I like the practical that accompanies a teaching.

1. A Christ-like posture demonstrates our relationship with Him.

It starts here. We should have a relationship with Christ. Not just a “I know about Him” like I know about the Queen. I can rattle off lots of facts about her but I didn’t know her personally. How did we get to know someone who becomes important to us? Think of our spouse, our best friend, our neighbour or our co-worker? We began a dialogue, we learned things about them and realized we found characteristics and traits that we liked or are drawn to.

As we are introduced to God, we may start to attend church or a Bible study, or something like our Why? program to investigate and learn more. We have our Bibles to learn of God, His character, His faithfulness, His Heart for sinners like you and me, and the forgiveness and gift of eternal life we can receive when we repent, ask for forgiveness and invite Him into our hearts as Lord and Saviour. When I met my husband and realized there was so much about him that I liked and came to love, I didn’t stop talking to him. We continue to dialogue to this day. Relationships die

without communication. Our relationship with God is no different. We need to keep talking to Him through our prayer life and we need to keep learning about Him and be attentive to how He is speaking to us. We are told in 1 Thessalonians 5:17 that we are to “pray without ceasing.”

In the Marks of a Disciple study we are doing by Pastor Dean Inserra, he refers to this posture as the continual practice of turning away from the things of this world and turning toward God and His kindness and grace. As we continue in our walk and we are learning, growing and deepening our understand of who God is and His heart, more of our behaviour, attitudes and choices get revealed to us as not being in alignment with God. There is a refinement at work and the prophet Malachi compared God’s work in us by His transformative power as the refiner’s fire in chapter 3, part of verse 2, that is eliminating the impurities and making something beautiful. We know the Scripture is an imperative part of this as we learn from Paul as he writes to Timothy in 2 Timothy chapter 3. He is addressing godlessness in the last days and how people will be lovers of self, money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents ungrateful, unholy, not loving good but lovers of pleasure rather than the lovers of God (I am not including all that Paul lists). And in verse 5 Paul says “Avoid such people.” Sound familiar – all the things of this world. But, I want to turn to the things of God so the encouragement that Paul offers to Timothy in verses 14-17 applies to us. Paul says “continue in what you have learned and firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”

Take note here that Paul references the sacred writings and Scripture. We have more at our fingertips in terms of devotions, articles and resources to comment and conjecture about God’s Word. But we have to make sure we are using the Bible and God’s truth as our baseline and compare everything else to this rather than someone else’s teaching as our gospel.

Once we have an active relationship with God, we move onto the next posture.

2. A Christ-like posture demonstrates our surrender and dependence on Him.

When we say that Christ is the Lord of my life, it means we are surrendering our all to Him and His sovereign plans for our life. Our time, our resources, our bodies, our money are not our own. All of these are on loan to us and we are use each one of these to glorify God and draw others to Him. As we surrender and remember we are turning away from the things of this world, it is going to come at cost to us (sacrifice) and a very deliberate choice to follow that prompting. How do we do that? Maybe you are promoted at work or get a refund on your taxes, do you trade in your car for a newer and more expensive model, or do you use those funds to invest in God’s Kingdom by sponsoring a youth to go on retreat or add it to what you had already designated to the next World Impact offering? It is not just a one-time thing either. When you go grocery shopping, do you regularly purchase more pantry items so you can help keep the shelves stocked for the Bread of Life Ministry? When you have some extra time, do you sign up to help out with the Helping Hands ministry? It is our time, resources, talents and choices that need to demonstrate our surrender and sacrifice to follow Christ.

We have the perfect model of sacrifice and surrender in Jesus Christ and His willingness and obedience to go to the cross to bear our punishment for our sin. Philippians 2:3-8 says “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. (This is completely contrary to the message society tells us every day, on every device and in every advertisement.) Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”

After the Last Supper with the disciples, Jesus went to the Mount of Olives and told the disciples to pray. He moved away from them and knelt down to pray, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” We find that in Luke 22:42 and Jesus is praying to God that He would be spared while also surrendering to God’s will. According to Luke in chapter 22, verses 43 and 44, His despair was so profound that “his sweat became like great drops of blood” and He was comforted by an angel. I can’t imagine being so distressed that my sweat would become like great drops of blood. Jesus knew what was coming and what God’s will was – for Him to die and not just die but to be crucified – considered the most painful and longest way to die at that time. So here is the sacrifice and surrender, but also His dependence on God. Because He is comforted by an angel. We may not always have an angel appear, but God’s comfort and peace is found when we need it, when we surrender and ask Him to be present with us.

Our dependence on God comes when we know and acknowledge that everything we have: our very breath, our day, our family, job, clothing, food, all provision comes from Him. We are called to be good stewards of what is entrusted to us.
When we work, we are to do it remembering who our true authority is – the Lord. Colossians 3:23-24 tell us: “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward.” My earthly boss is Pastor Don and I report to him, am accountable to and take my direction from him. But I am ultimately doing everything under the authority of Jesus.
Once we realize that we are to have this posture of relationship, surrender and dependence, I come to understand that I have so much to thank God for and I love Him more and more as my appreciation grows.

3. A Christ-like posture demonstrates my thankfulness and out of this, love grows.

When I am quiet, and I reflect on what I have with God and what I have because of God, I cannot be anything but humbled and overwhelmed by His goodness to me. I am forgiven. I am free from the punishment my sin deserves. I am bathed in God’s grace and patience as I grow in my walk, in my understanding of His heart for me and everyone else. I don’t get treated as I should and I am given grace that is unmerited and unearned by anything I have done but all because of what Jesus did for me. I am a new creation.

We are going to look at Colossians 3 verses 12-17. As we read, please see yourself as God sees you: chosen, holy, beloved and so much to be thankful for.
“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your heart to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”

We are commanded to forgive as we have been forgiven. That can be a hard one, can’t it? We want to hold onto what has been done to us and feel like we are justified and our desire to not extend forgiveness is reasonable. But as we pray for God to change our hearts, we hope to realize that what I am being asked to forgive is nothing compared to what God has forgiven me of and for. So we pray, help me to see this person in front of me as you see them, God. And I realize that God can change my heart and soften, I can forgive and even love that person. Remember the first and second commands we are given in Matthew 22:37-40? “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it. You shall love your neighbour as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the law and prophets.”
So we have talked about a Christ-like posture should demonstrate my relationship with Him, my surrender to and my dependence on Him, my thankfulness to Him and out of this, love for Him and others should grow. This brings us to our last posture that we will look at today.

4. A Christ-like posture demonstrates an eternal perspective, not an earthly one.

There is so much that can be said about this and how we walk this out. We go back to our authority and source of truth: His Word. Let’s look at Colossians 3:1-2. “If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set you minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.”
Our assignment on earth is to be a reflection of God’s love, grace and forgiveness and to tell the world about Him so they too can have a life-giving relationship with Him. This requires our investment in others – we depend on God to give us the words and the discernment to know what to say and how say it. We also pray that our actions, choices, priorities and behaviours are a testimony to Him. The results of all of these postures, rest with Him, not us.
But we must reminder our instruction from Jesus that He gave first to the 11 disciples who went to Galilee as He instructed them after His resurrection. Jesus said them to Matthew 28:18-20, “And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

We have a responsibility to share the gift we have been given in knowing Christ and being redeemed. He is with us as we build relationships with others, as we make daily choices – both big and seemingly small ones – that demonstrate our surrender and dependence on Him, that show we are thankful to Him and love like Him. So church, this is a challenge to all of us. Let’s demonstrate a Christ-like posture to the world that helps to draw people to Him. Let us show our families, friends, co- workers, neighbours, and others that this world, its priorities, its definitions of truth and security, are not like what Christ offers. But what Christ gives and what we have with Him and in Him, are eternal, secure, abundant and more than we could ever need or imagine.