Just the Way I Am
You and I have heard people excuse all types of unacceptable behavior in their lives by using the excuse, "Well, that's just the way I am." It is not used all the time. But let them get caught being rude, crude or socially unacceptable and here it comes, the old accept-me-like-I-am, because-I'm-not-changing excuse.
For those who really do not care, or for those who do not name the name of Christ—their behavior is annoying and sometimes hurtful. However, for those who profess to be Christians, it is all that, plus it contradicts God's will and the message of His word.
Note the words of Paul in 2 Corinthians 5:17-21. He writes, "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ's behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God."NIV
Would it be over-simplifying the gospel to say that the message of the gospel, in part, is that we are not the way we once were after that we have entered a relationship with Jesus Christ? I do not think I have missed it. We have been reconciled to God through Christ—brought into a right relationship with God. Do not tell me that nothing changes. Do not tell me that God expects nothing different from us.
To begin with, anyone who calls himself a Christian is expected to be a representative of his Savior and Lord. Paul says that we are ambassadors and the duties of an ambassador are important—especially in the eyes of the one or ones being represented. Imagine if you can, an ambassador of the United States going into the office or palace of the head of state of another country and behaving in an insulting manner. Imagine that he says hurtful and insulting things that can turn this ally into an enemy. Then upon going home, he receives a call from the President of the United States asking for an explanation for his behavior.
Can you imagine what the response of the President would be when he hears, "Well, Mr. President, I knew they would not like it, but that's just the way I am"? Chances are that he would immediately be out of the ambassador business.
My point is simple. Through Christ God has made it possible for all to be forgiven. We who name the name of Christ have been given in Christ, a clean record, a new nature and a new mission which is to share God's message of hope with others. But there is more. Note the statement that, "God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. NIV
Jesus Christ was treated as a sinner, dying in our place for our sins—even though He had never sinned. Why? So that we might, through Christ, share in the righteousness of God—even though we had never done anything to deserve it. Everything about the message says that we are different in Christ.
The truth is that as human beings we have power over our actions and words. For the Christian it is true even more so. So the next time you and I have to make that right-or-wrong choice about our behavior or words, we can take comfort in the message and power of the gospel and make the right decision. After all, it's just the way we are.