Appropriating Christ Jesus (Part 1 of 2)

Put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ.— Romans 13:14.

At the beginning of the Christian life, for the most part at least, we try to imitate Jesus Christ. There is Scriptural warrant for our doing so. And the time will never come when we may not look up to Him as our model and ideal, with that eager, longing gaze which must exert something of a transforming influence. But if this be all, we shall find our Christian life one of unutterable disappointment and sorrow. The infinite beauty and glory of our ideal must ever distance our noblest efforts, as the inaccessible heights of the Jungfrau, clad in untrodden snows, rise higher and ever higher above the traveler as he approaches them along the valley at their foot.

In a railway carriage recently I was attracted by the earnest look on the face of a young man who was reading The Imitation of Christ.[1] Some kinship of spirit drew me to his side, and the conversation naturally opened by a reference to the holy meditations of the almost unknown saint, which has become part of the household literature of the Church. Without depreciating that precious manual of the holy life, I ventured to suggest that “imitation” alone was insufficient for the purpose we had in view; and that there was a more excellent way.

Years ago, when a lad at school, there was failure in my attempts to imitate with clumsy fingers the smooth copper-plate at the head of my copy-book, nor was there better success in the endeavor to imitate the finished drawing placed upon the easel; and the captain of the school could throw cricket-ball and hammer for almost as many yards, as the slender arms of his imitator could throw them feet. Yes, and as year after year I have tried to imitate the matchless glories of Jesus Christ, there has been the same weary sense of failure, beneath which heart and hope have sunk down baffled and disappointed.

There is another word, which carries with it the inspiration of a new hope, and speaks of the possibilities of faith–the word APPROPRIATION. Let us not be content with the effort to imitate Christ; let us appropriate Him, as the flowers of spring and the fruits of autumn appropriate the properties of the sap and dew and balmy air, and all the glorious forces that lie hid in sunbeams.

This thought is Scriptural. What is it but another way of expressing the Apostle’s exhortation to “put on the Lord Jesus Christ”? (Rom. 13:14.) In Him, by the good pleasure of the Father, all fulness dwells, that we might receive of it grace upon grace; and that reception is but another term for appropriation. In giving us His Son, the Father hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness; but that gracious provision avails us nothing until we claim and appropriate it by a living faith [2]. The promises are all ours: but they are vain until we lay upon them the hand of appropriating proprietorship; and, as heirs, enter upon our inheritance. All true faith must have in it this thought of appropriation. We” first know by hearing what are our glorious privileges and rights. Then we reckon that the record is true. And, finally, we begin to use that which, has been so freely given. Like the pilgrim-saints of olden days, “we are persuaded of them, and embrace them.” (Heb. 11:13.)

(Part 1 of 2) This is an excerpt of Christian Living, chapter 1. Italics added. F. B. Meyer 1847-1929 English Baptist clergyman.

[1] by Thomas A Kempis. Many of its precepts are valuable after identification with Christ has been appropriated by faith.

[2] Allusions to Colossians 1:19; John 1:16; 2 Peter 1:3

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