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Christian Living

Spiritual Life

Whose Presence?

I was in a meeting where one of the guys said of a church leader, “I love to be in his presence.” The sentence repeated itself in my mind, and I asked myself, Do people love to be in my presence? I could not find a good answer. How about you?

I’m not talking about being smart or funny or the center of attention or anything egotistical. I’m talking about character.

Some people might like to be in our presence. But let’s go beyond family, friends, or church members. Do people like to be in your presence? Whether the answer is yes or no, doesn’t the reason largely come down to character?

Looking to the greatest of characters, how much is mine like the character of Christ?

Or we can just stick with verses for people who are fully human. Yet as we do, let’s go beyond mere theological truths to how real these verses truly are in our daily lives (all verses from NIV).

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: the old has gone, the new is here!” 2 Corinthians 5:17

  • To what degree am I “a new creation”?

“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.” Galatians 2:20 

  • ​​​​​​How much do “I no longer live but Christ lives in me”?

“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” ŸRomans 12:2 

  • How thoroughly have I been transformed by the renewing of my mind?

“We are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing.” Ÿ2 Corinthians 2:15 

  • Do I exude “the aroma of Christ?”

Wouldn’t you like to become a person of whom others say, “I love to be in [your name]’s presence”? There is a way. It’s not complicated, but neither is it easy. The way is to become more like Christ.

In pursuing that, what hinders us most? The answer is almost always ourselves. Right? It’s tempting to say, “I already know this.” But ask yourself how much you’re doing it.

To cut through a thousand complications, the most basic key is simple but challenging. It may be best expressed by John the Baptist’s statement about Jesus in John 3:30,

“He must become greater; I must become less.”

Any prayer of “Lord, change me” largely comes down to Jesus’ divine nature increasing in our lives and our fleshly nature diminishing. Selfish ambition, self-preservation, self-pity, self-centeredness—self, self, self. Jesus becomes greater; self becomes less. Even crucified.

We can go on and on about spiritual formation or growing in faith, but the bottom line from which everything follows is to set ourselves aside and die to our fleshly nature so the Spirit of God may live and manifest in us.

It’s a mindset to be cultivated primarily by letting go—and by intentional, consistent practices in any area of life to empty of self and fill with God. Then we experience his life-giving presence and transforming grace. Who wouldn’t like to be in the presence of someone like that? 

I hope you’ll join me on this challenging and fulfilling journey. We may even love each other’s presence.

Copyright © Peter Lundell. Used by permission.

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