Vicarious Living

By Laurel J. Davis 2007
See Laurel's blog at The Reluctant First Lady

Parents. Spouses. Friends. Co-workers. Peers. Teachers. Politicians. Talk show hosts. Celebrities. Celebrity makers. Wall Street sharks. Pastors. And...maybe...Jesus Christ?

These are all the different types of people who tend to shape our way of thinking and way of living. The crucial question for Christians is: Who has the most influence on you? Whose example do you tend to follow the most? Whose approval or acceptance is most important to you?

The word vicarious means "acting in place of someone or something else" and "felt or experienced as if one were taking part in the experience or feelings of another" (Webster's). Too often the shoes many of us Christians are walking in are somebody else's shoes, or they're our shoes but we're walking after somebody else's footsteps — somebody's other than Jesus Christ's.

Too many of us too often let all the wrong people basically live our lives for us. Instead, we ought to let Jesus Christ basically take our lives over. It is Christ's Word and His example, purpose and acceptance that should ultimately shape our thoughts and conduct in life the most. Not anyone else's.

Here's how the Bible describes the "vicarious living" of Christ in us:
I am crucified with Christ; nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. Galatians 2:20
Notice how Christ "lives inside" the believer. In a basic, universal spiritual sense, in Him we live, and move, and have our being (Acts 17:28). Christ is the very pulse that gives real life and breath and meaning to our souls. In that sense, every true believer has Christ vicariously "living in" him by the Holy Spirit because Jesus abides in his heart.

In a more hands-on spiritual sense, Christ's living vicariously in us means we conform our way of thinking and way of living to His teachings, desires and influence. It means we submit ourselves to God's perfect will and goodness and power in every area of life. That way, He really does, in effect, live our lives for us. Not literally, but certainly directly.

Such a life — the Christ-like life — seeks first and foremost acceptance from God. The Christ-led life chooses a path of daily thinking and action that thrives more on what God thinks and wants than what anybody else in the world thinks or wants. Sure, it's hard not to be affected by all the people in the world around us who demand our attention and expect our conformity. But Romans 12:2 encourages us: Be not conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

Image Credit: nickzeff; "Filling daddy's shoes 1"; Creative Commons

TagsBiblical-Truth  | Christian-Life  | Jesus-Christ

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Published on 12-14-15