July 25, 2011

Christianity: More than a lifestyle


I have been writing for over three years now about faith and God’s work in my life.  I have tried to encourage and share what God was showing me. During this time, my beliefs and convictions changed dramatically.  Now I do not want to dismiss or throw away any of the previous things I have written.  They are all still true but my perspective has changed in regards to Christianity. I have been through a storm that has changed my life as well as my walk with the Lord and so now, I am starting over.  This may sound extreme but track with me.

As I read Twitter and receive my daily devotions online from many respected Christian leaders, I am left confused at times.  Between John Piper, Rob Bell, Charles Stanley, Max Lucado, Rick Warren, Beth Moore and Joyce Meyers, I am left trying to decide who has the answers.  Who speaks total Truth?  Who can I trust?

My conclusion, none of them.  Now I do not mean this in a negative way toward any of them.  I believe that each, from what I have read, love the Lord, strive to serve Him, share His Truth and mean well.  The problem is that each one of them is human making them sinful.  Scripture tells us that no one is incapable of living a sinless life.  (1 John 1:8) NO ONE.  What does this mean?  It means that each one of these people is capable of falling into sin just as I am.  Whether it is pride or envy, gossip or lying, they each are susceptible to sin.From there we are able to conclude that not one of them can serve as “THE” mouthpiece of God.  They can however share their convictions and their interpretations of scripture but it does not make them right 100% of the time.  This means that we should take what we are taught and what we see and test it against the Word of God. (1John 4:1)

I spent years believing that being a Christian meant that you looked a certain way.  You had to dress a certain way.  You had to quote an enormous amount of scripture.  You had to pray a certain way.  You had to attend church a certain amount of times each week. The list goes on but that is just what it is, a list. It is a lifestyle.  Jesus spoke out against this type of thinking and lifestyle.
Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, 2 “The teachers of religious law and the Pharisees are the official interpreters of the law of Moses.[a] 3 So practice and obey whatever they tell you, but don’t follow their example. For they don’t practice what they teach. 4 They crush people with unbearable religious demands and never lift a finger to ease the burden. 
Matthew 23:1-4

At the age of nine, I accepted Christ into my life.  I remember it as if it were yesterday.  I believed in Him.  I believed that He was the Son of God and died so that I might have eternal life but I also believed I had to fit a certain profile in order to receive His love, grace and forgiveness.  My problem was that I felt I could never match up to those around me who seemed to meet the profile of a “Christian”.  I tried but always failed. I reached a place of hopelessness.  I felt rejected.  I just didn’t “feel” good enough and so I gave up. 

I stopped attending church for about a month this time last year.  I lost trust in people.  I lost trust in “the church”.  I did not want anything else to do with any of it.  Then I had a special week that ended with the desire to find a church.  Here you will find the story of how I found the church that changed my life.

About a year ago, I began attending this special church.  It is a church that has taught me things that I needed to hear. It changed my life as well as my walk with the Lord.  The pastor introduced to me a Jesus that I had never known. There have been those that have said that I go to this church because I am hearing what I want to hear.  I guess you can say that they are right.  I am hearing that I am loved beyond measure.  I am hearing that I matter.  I am hearing that I have a purpose.  I am learning that all of this (Jesus) is about a relationship not a religion. 

The key I have learned is that when I trust in Christ and strive to surrender to Him, all other things will fall into place.  It is not about doing a bible study.  It is not about reading my Bible for a specific amount of time every day.  It is not about giving X amount of dollars to charity.  Instead, it is about loving God with all of my heart mind and soul.  It is about putting Him above all else and surrendering.  It is about having a relationship. When I do those things, I become more like Him and begin living a life reflective of who He is in my life.  That is what I want!!

We can “do” a lot for the world to see.  We can put on a good show for those around us but ultimately it is useless if are like the Pharisees and do it only to be seen.  We then are whitewashed tombs.  Hypocrites.  We are beautiful on the outside but filled with dead bones on the inside. Outwardly we look righteous but inwardly our hearts are filled with hypocrisy. (Matthew 23:27-28)  That is NOT what I want!

My desire is to:
Be the type of person who serves those less fortunate than me.
Be the type of person who loves my neighbor.
Be the type of person who chooses integrity.
Be the type of person who loves my enemies.
I want to BE the person who is constantly in the process of becoming a different kind of follower of Jesus.

I want a deeper relationship with Christ.  I want to KNOW Jesus!  I want to HEAR Jesus! I want to be EMPOWERED by Jesus. I want these things not because of the things that I do but instead I want it to come from the natural overflow of my relationship with Him. I no longer want to live a life of doing but instead a life of being.  I want to be like Jesus!!



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