The Image Of The Living Christ
By Harold Ferguson
Does the Shroud of Turin really bear the image of Jesus Christ?
The shroud, a fourteen-by-four foot linen cloth, has a reverse or negative image of a human body scorched on it. A team of scientists spent three years at a Catholic church in northern ltaly examining the garment. They concluded that the imprint could have been made by an unexplained burst of energy such as might have occurred at the time of Christ’s resurrection,
“We can conclude that the shroud image is that of a real human being, of a scourged, crucified man,” said Joan Janney, a member of the Shroud of Turin Research Project, Inc. “It is not the product of an artist. The bloodstains are composed of hemoglobin.”
While such a report sparks our interest, it is not that significant for Christians. We should not be concerned about the image of the crucified Christ on cloth, but making sure that the image of the risen Christ is in our lives.
This is what Paul meant when he prayed for the Ephesians that “Christ might dwell in your hearts by faith” (Ephesians 3:17). The trinitarian doctrine fragments God. But Paul drew no distinction between being filled with the Holy Spirit and being indwelt by Jesus Christ.
It is to our advantage to think of the One who indwells us as being the living Lord Jesus. The concept of a “spirit” within may be vague. We need to realize that the same Christ who walked through the cities, towns, and country of Palestine is now living in us by His Spirit.
One translation renders Paul’s prayer as: “That Christ might settle down and be at home in your hearts through faith.”
With the knowledge that Christ was in permanent, personal residence in their lives, Paul then called on the Ephesians to be filled with all the fulness of God (Ephesians 3:19).
This is interesting since Paul described Jesus as the One in whom divine fulness dwells (Colossians 1:l9). Jesus is the exact imprint of God. All the attributes of God were shown in bodily form in Jesus, and it is possible to recognize God in His character, attitude, and words.
This is the quality of life to which Christians are to aspire. We are to affirm the existence of God by exhibiting His character. As Christians in a hostile culture, this is our responsibility. This does not set aside the task of evangelism, but it does reveal that witnessing is not just something we say, but also someone we are. We cannot separate the demonstration of the gospel from the proclamation of the gospel, Our primary witness is in our being. If we are going to urge others to be Christians, we must be what we want them to be.
When Christ’s image is imparted n our hearts, His holiness, love, and power will be visible in our daily lives,
Those we often think of as holy, however, may only conform to anoutward standard. In our zeal for a holy lifestyle, it is possible for us to become harsh and hard, demanding adherence to a strict code of dress, conduct, and activities. It is often easier to condemn rather than to commend.
True holiness, however, is not demonstrated by how unlike the world we are, but how much like Christ we are. True holiness means Christ likeness. We should be known for what we do that is right, not for what sinful activities we substained from. We should take as our motto, “It is better to light one candle than to curse the darkness.” It is Christ in us who is our hope of glory.
If we have love as the basis for living, it does not mean that we are to compromise the faith. There is a difference between compassion and compromise. Christ’s love flowing from us will take us outside ourselves into the lives of others. It will see every person, even a sinner, as a creature of infinite worth in the sight of God. While love will condemn their evil lifestyle, it will also produce in the Christian an unconditional positive regard for sinners.
Jesus gave the principle that binds love to obedience; love is more than the poetical and romantic concept we so often attach to it. Jesus said, “If you love me, keep my commandments” (John 14-:15). There is nothing sentimental about this statement. There is nothing ambiguous about it either.
It is often painfully evident that we do not exercise spiritual power in comparison with the first Christians. They became known by their enemies as the men who “turned the world upside down” (Acts 17:6). The demonstration of the power of Christ in them was measurable by the impact they had on their society.
Most of our lives are decent enough, but they are not supernatural enough. God wants true miracles to be done through those who have Him in their hearts. We should not expect miracles for miracles sake alone, but we should desire them because they meet human needs and point others to God.
There is a tendency for all of us to approach the principle of having the image of Jesus Christ as idealists rather than as realists. But this is not sufficient. It is an experience to be apprehended, not an idea to be just appreciated.
A Christian business executive learned what it meant to have the image of Christ in an encounter in an airport terminal. Late getting his bags checked in, he rushed through the crowd toward the gate where he would board the plane. The last call for boarding had been given. As he charged toward the gate, he bumped into a small child.
Both were knocked down. The little boy had been carrying a new jigsaw puzzle, and the pieces were scattered all over the floor.
The executive stood up to leave, paused, and saw the child in tears. With compassion, he knelt and helped the boy pick up his puzzle. Through a window, he saw the plane taxi out to the runway.
The child watched him intently. When they were finished picking up all the pieces, the little boy looked at the man with awe. “Mister,” he said hesitantly, “are you Jesus?” And for that moment the man realized that to that child he had been.
(The above material was published by Harold Ferguson)
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