Jan 1, 2009

'Make your life go here'

by Dan Grubbs

The quote in the headline is from one of my favorite movies: Jeremiah Johnson. The quote refers to the mother of one of the characters who told him that he should make his life in the towns, not in the mountains. The problem was, that was her desire, not his. She did not understand the idea of being a mountain man so her inclination was against it. This same thing can happen in families and groups of friends when it comes to living committedly to Christ.

Let me explain with an example. Not long ago, I was talking to the parent of a student leader in a college ministry. The parent complained the student was spending all their time at church in ministry and fellowship activities. As a young adult, this person was making their life exist with Christ’s people. I couldn’t understand how this parent, who obviously loved the young person, was trying to limit the student’s godly life. Wouldn’t serving in the body of Christ be the place the parent would want their child to be?

The fact is this is a microcosm for many in the body today. Church is just that thing you do on certain days of the week, but we also have our golf buddies, our work friends, and even our tailgate parties. You may think I’m being legalistic; however, I think it’s a dangerous condition for Christians to live with one foot in the church and one foot in the world.

Many claim that they are trying to be a good influence by living their lives with those of the world. For most people I know that say this, I question their veracity. If you’re riding the horse of truth and you want your friend to join you on that ride, you don’t get down off the horse to join your friend where you may stray away. You reach out and pull your friend up on the back of the horse of truth and bring your friend into your world.

To further emphasize this point in scripture, the Apostle Peter tells us that we are aliens and strangers among the world, and even among those who are saved but are not living godly lives. Yes, Christ was in the company of prostitutes and other hated people in that society. But, they were repentant and followed Him as new creatures. He preached to all the people, but He made his friendships with those who followed Him.

We need to reach out and proclaim the truth to our unsaved or backslidden friends. We need to draw them into our world, not join them in theirs. There is a reason the Holy Spirit sanctifies us from those who are perishing. We are to separate ourselves from the world, while simultaneously reaching out to the world.

I consider myself a patriotic person. I’ve lived in two other countries besides the U.S.; therefore, I’ve seen how others in the world live. I remember in my younger days saying that I wouldn’t ever give up my U.S. citizenship to go live somewhere else. It identified who I was. But, as I began to understand what Peter wrote in his first letter, I learned to recognize I was no longer a U.S. citizen, I was a follower of Christ. My nationality, or family heritage or even my race was meaningless if I truly followed Jesus’ teachings. I had a new purpose as can be seen in I Peter 2:9-12

But you are A CHOSEN RACE, A royal PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR God's OWN POSSESSION, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; for you once were NOT A PEOPLE, but now you are THE PEOPLE OF GOD; you had NOT RECEIVED MERCY, but now you have RECEIVED MERCY. Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul. Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles, so that in the thing in which they
slander you as evildoers, they may because of your good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God in the day of visitation.
Notice the English translation “among” in the verse. This is from the Greek preposition that indicates a fixed position, a location. We would commonly use the word “in” where this Greek word may appear. This is significantly different from the Greek word relating to being a part of something that we would normally translate as “of”. It’s vital to notice the distinction.

Yes, we have jobs, we go to school, we have responsibilities in this world. But as Christians, we must remember we are called out from the world no longer to be of it.

I often hear people referring to a similar concept. They say something like this: “Christians can’t compartmentalize their life.” This is true if it means we should not have a church life, a work life, a home life, a play life, a volunteer life, a neighbor life, etc. As Christians, we only have one life and that is lived through Christ Jesus as we go about the things we do while in this world. Our identity is Christ. We no longer are German or African-American or an Iowan — we are Christians. We now are aliens in the world and not members of the world.

That’s easy to say. However, it’s not always easy to actually live out. Sometimes this means we have to sever relationships with friends and loved ones. Can we still have non-Christian friends? Certainly. However, as new creatures in Christ, our relationships with others should be filtered by our relationship with the Lord. We no longer do the things of the world with our friends and loved ones. However, we should never abandon trying to bring our friends and loved ones into our new world.
The simple fact is that we should make our lives go where Christ is. Almost always this will be with His people and what He is leading them to do.

No comments:

Post a Comment

All comments will be moderated. Please be respectful. Just because a comment does not appear does not mean the moderator has not responded directly.