Need to check out a church, a bible study, or a community group and you’re not sure what they’re teaching is even in the bible? Take this book with you!
Religion is for good people.
It has one central characteristic – to give you a bunch of laws to make your life work and to gain approval from its god. And the burden is on you. You have make it work. It’s your discipline and commitment that makes it or breaks it for you.
For example, meditation just doesn’t float down like a cloud and take you by the hand to your happy place. You have to work it. You have to set aside the time, roll out the mat, sit Buddha-style, inhale and exhale, clear your mind, breathe in, breathe out, and keep your back straight. After twenty minutes you get up, roll up the mat, tuck it under your arm and now you’re ready to check that off your list for the day.
On the other hand, Christianity is for bad people. That’s me. I have the mat, the exercise ball, and the twister thing, all with a heavy layer of dust on them in the corner of the room. I’ve walked away from many schools of discipline. I’m sure they would have worked had I been more consistent. But consistency eludes me, along with daily bible reading, prayer, and keeping my eyes glued to Jesus every day.
The slightest distraction draws me away from him. The weather. My spiritual temperature. The latest conflict with my husband. The boring aspects of my job. Those capture my heart faster than everything Jesus has done for me.
I tell others to be aware of looking inward because there’s nothing good there. Just sin and failure. That joy in life is found in keeping a closeness with Jesus. Except I don’t do it.
That’s why I’m a bad people. Even on my best days, my life is shot full of sin. That’s why Christianity is my kind of religion. It tells me I am bad, that I have no hope, and that I am lost and without God in the world. Sounds very orphan-like to me. No Father is heaven looking after me. No church to nurture and raise me. No brothers and sisters to live with. That’s as bad as it gets.
That’s why I need Christianity. That’s where I discover Jesus. He came to rescue me because I was that bad. He merited righteousness through his perfect obedience, and paid the price for my sins through his death on the cross. And both are credited to me through faith in him alone.
That’s it. It’s that simple, and yet it cost Jesus everything. My job? To believe him. If he said he did this, then you can trust him.
Which would you rather do? Believe in Jesus or roll out that dusty exercise ball?
Talk to me.
Do we strive to enter God’s kingdom? Just because God has placed a ticket to heaven in our hands doesn’t mean we stay in the waiting lounge. We have to get up and walk into the plane.
Who are we listening to? Is it God through his Word or someone else’s voice?
How often it’s my voice I follow. It’s easy. It’s all too familiar.
Living the kingdom life is nothing short of brutal. It goes against the grain of self. It’s not the life we’re used to.
It requires humility, mercy, sincerity and loving our enemies.
Everything we don’t like doing.
Who wants to die?
Who wants to disregard his own ambitions?
It’s easier to profess Christ than to follow him.
I know. I’m an expert at it.
I suspect you are, too.
So what do we do about it?
Study. Pray. Respect.
Immerse yourself in God’s Word.
Pray God’s Word. Make it your own. Eat it.
Respect your teachers. Make sure they’re telling you about Christ and not themselves. Make sure they’re men of the Word. Humble. Accessible.
True followers of Christ are submitted to him, even in rejection and suffering.
As Christians we now live by the sermon on the Mount, but not by adhering to its rules, but by having faith in the preacher of the sermon.
He’s our Mediator. He’s the new Moses. He fights his battles for us.
Lean heavily into him.
Talk to me.
“The hardest thing in the world is to take Christ alone for salvation and then to return to Christ alone every day of the Christian life.” – Tony Reinke
Our human nature wants to manipulate our salvation. It goes something like this: Christ did the hard part (dying on the cross) so now we’ll take it from here.
Everyone of us desires glory. We were build for it, and one day we’ll experience it, but not here. And yet, every time we use self-salvation strategies to keep God liking us and thinking we’re terrific, we end up in self-worship and self-glory.
We long to be something apart from him.
Have you noticed how burdened we feel most days with the many pressures and layers of life?
We’re addicted to living that way. We don’t understand any other kind of life.
But what would happen if we truly knew ourselves from God’s vantage point and realized we are nothing? And then be glad that Jesus is all we ever need or want?
What would our lives look like with that mindset?
“When our self-evaluation is emptied, Christ’s glory weighs heavier in our lives.” – John Newton
We need to be people like those who go to AA meetings. We need to say to ourselves in the mirror every morning, “My name is Bub, and I’m a sinner addicted to myself.”
I think we need to confess that everyday to the Lord.
He might even say to us, “Now you’re getting it. I’m here to help.”
What do you think?
Are you addicted to love?
Not the paper-thin kind in a Hollywood movie, but the love found in God’s people, the flesh and bone kind.
Are we devoted to one another? Do we share a common life with others in the church or do we walk past them as vapors?
God is addicted to us. He pours out his love to us in Christ every day. Instead of loving others in the same way, if we’re honest, we’re more addicted to our own dreams and ambitions.
I’m guilty. I lose myself in my reading and my writing. Even this blog. I can go for days without leaving the house or talking to a neighbor. And when I go to church, very often I go home afterwards and return to my interests.
If we build our lives in him, it’s going to hurt. It will interrupt our habits. It will undermine our selfishness. It will change us.
God went to incredible lengths to have fellowship with us. He sent Christ because of it.
If we choose to live private, closed lives we’re living life lopsided.
Being a Christian and a member of God’s church means a level of transparency.
Jesus was put out of the camp so we could be brought in, not to live self-absorbed lives, but to be a blessing to others.
We come to church to be fed Christ in the sermon and at the communion table, and as a result we are built up in the faith, but not for our sake only, but for our neighbor sitting in the chair next to us.
How’s it going for you?
Talk to me.
Think about the creativity God uses to call you to Himself.
He sent His Son to earth to become like you, except he was without sin.
Christ lived his life obeying God perfectly for you.
Then He died on the cross to take away your sin.
He took God’s wrath that was meant for you.
He loved God perfectly because you couldn’t do it.
What a Savior!
If you can see how much you need Christ from reading this, then embrace Him with faith right now.
Thank Him for His overwhelming love for you.
And go out and tell someone about Him.
Talk to me.