“But why are you called a Christian?”

“Because by faith I am a member of Christ and so I share in His anointing [with the Holy Spirit]. I am anointed to confess His name, to present myself in Him as a living sacrifice of thanks, to strive with a good conscience against sin and the devil in this life, and afterwards to reign with Christ over all creation for all eternity.”
— Heidelberg Catechism (1563)

I’ve always been amused at the fun things that we can get ourselves into, regardless of whether they are safe or not. Up there on the list is (drum roll, please) inhaling helium. I know we all say that it’s bad for you (lungs are not, after all, designed to absorb and process helium for the benefit of your body), but it always tickles me to no end listening to the pathetic squealing of someone speak who is exhaling a lungful of the stuff. Leaves me in stitches every time.

Now, reflecting on this “reprehensible practice”, it’s amazing how similar people sound when they’re “on helium”: the low density of the gas raises the pitch of everyone’s voice in the same way. More than the size of your vocal chords or the presence of an Adam’s apple, the main factor in how a person sounds is the substance that is being breathed in and out.

Interestingly, the same thing goes for the Spirit which filled Christ and which fills you as a Christian. As the catechism above explains so well, Jesus is called “Christ” because he was anointed with the Holy Spirit, and you and I are called “Christians” because we have been anointed with the same Holy Spirit and linked up to Christ as a result. We breathe what he breathes, we are filled with the power that filled him, and we serve God just as Jesus served God.

True, Jesus accomplished some unique, once-for-all deeds as our Prophet, Priest, and King: he was born of a Virgin, endured the wrath of God, and conquered death, to name a few. However, as God anoints us with his Spirit in power and gives us our mission (and if you are a Christian, he most certainly does exactly that), our lives begin to look like Christ’s, and God calls us to serve him in ways that look a lot like how Jesus served God. Just as two people sucking helium off the tap sound ridiculously alike, so when we trust in Christ and receive his Spirit, we begin bearing an uncanny resemblance to our Lord.

This means that, if you are a Christian, you have been anointed with the Holy Spirit and are called to serve God in every sphere of life as a prophet, priest, and king like Christ. As prophets, we submit to the Word of God, and we proclaim the Lord Jesus Christ to those around us. As priests, we offer up to God a living sacrifice of our praise and thanksgiving by serving him with our whole lives. And as kings, we make war on sin and evil in our lives and in the world, and we look forward to the day when we will reign with Christ forever.

Do you belong to Christ? Do you breathe with him the same Spirit that he does? And are you joining with him in the joy of his ministry to our Father?

This short article was published in the Resurrection Times: Wednesday Edition, August 25, 2010. Its purpose was to whet the whistle of its readers for the up-coming sermon on the Doctrine of Vocation and Ministry.

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