This past Sunday we launched into our fall season with some beginning thoughts about going deeper. To borrow from the image of baptism, following Jesus is a plunge into the kind of life where God remakes us, from the inside out. The very possibility of “Adventures in the Deep End” (the title of our current series) is a grace we have to take seriously. We hope this series makes that clear. When the apostle John was quite old, he wrote a letter which contained the following idea (let me paraphrase): yes, we are now the children of God, that is clearly what we are. But, what we will be is still in process; what we will be is yet to be discovered (1 John 3:2). There is an already-but-not-yet quality to the life of following Jesus. And that means we can go deeper.
I would like to call attention to the idea of character. Character is the part of you that lies deeper than your skills and capabilities, deeper than your visible appearance, more central to who you are than your title or position. Your character is the shape of the real you.
On Sunday, Chris led us into some wonderful thoughts about humility, gentleness and patience, among other things. These are profoundly wonderful qualities which none of us can deny are beautiful, and deeply good. But how do we grow into these qualities? How do we form ourselves into a more beautiful character? Its simple really: we allow ourselves to be impressed with the character we want to become.
The word character has to do with imprint. It derives from the idea of engraving or printing, where the definitive features of one thing -- a block letter perhaps, or a signet ring -- when pressed onto something else, leaves its mark, its impression. We could think of our character as the impression we leave on others through our defining qualities. The simple truth is that persons can’t really hide who they are for long; we inevitably “feel” and “sense” the essence of the persons we get to know. Character leaves its impression.
I have found this to be the essence of my devotional life with God: that as I spend time with him in Scripture and prayer, worship and service, my life becomes imprinted with his character. I find that my life becomes impressed with his strength and confidence, his love and clarity. Being with God imprints me. The weight of his character changes me.
Jesus is described in Hebrews 1 as “the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation [lit: character] of his being” (Hebrews 1:3). Or, as the Message Bible correctly brings out, Jesus “perfectly mirrors God, and is stamped with God's nature”. Following Jesus means we are embracing the character of God in Jesus, discovering his impression in all we think and are. In a complementary but different way from Jesus, we become stamped with the character of God.
As we continue in our fall launch series, we invite you to consider your own “adventure in the deep end”, not to get overwhelmed with self-examination to the point of paralysis, but to realize that character matters, and that character change comes through allowing ourselves to be imprinted by the character of God.
We look forward to seeing you this Sunday. Take note of all our start-up programming taking place this month. Look for all of the “grow” options in this website.