Living It

Dear Brethren,

When someone asks, “How are you doing?”  Most people respond, “I’m doing fine – just fine.”  And for some of us that is our typical response – even when we are not really at our best.  For many people, giving an honest appraisal of how we are doing would be a difficult task.  And that’s because we often do not know our actual condition.  How I am doing physically might differ from how I’m doing emotionally, financially or spiritually.  God knows our spiritual condition perfectly – but do we?  There are some questions we could ask ourselves to find out more about our spiritual state.  For example:

“Christianity,” are we living it?  Do we have the attributes of true Children of God?  Are we making progress toward being in the very image of God?  Could it be that many of us have grown complacent and too self-assured of our standing with God?  That would be typical of this last age of God’s Church, Laodicea, wouldn’t it?  Could we be making that same classic mistake of being let-down, lackluster, lukewarm Christians?  It is a grave error to stop measuring ourselves against the perfection of Jesus Christ and God the Father.  In fact, Jesus said, “Become you therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.”  (Matthew 5:48)

What an incredibly high standard to set for us – it is unattainable to reach.  And yet, Jesus tells us not to aim any lower.  Only Jesus has ever been perfect, and yet He expects the same of us.  We cannot settle for any less standard than perfection itself.

What we need to ask ourselves is how does God see us?  It is of the utmost importance that our evaluation of ourselves matches God's assessment of us.  As maturing Christians we welcome and desire His involvement in our lives.  How do we gauge ourselves with regard to the word of God?

"Search me, O God, and know my heart: examine me, and know my thoughts. And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting."  (Psalms 39:23-24)

How can we see ourselves for what we are as God sees us when our hearts are desperately wicked (Jeremiah 17:9)?

Could it be that within God’s Church we are in danger of making the mistake of speaking religious sounding words but in fact exhibiting very little Christian substance?  The religion practiced in many congregations today is only a pretense of true Godly faith.  Can it be that we are only fooling ourselves?  Where is the seriousness, the urgency, and the humility of God’s people?  Who has the zeal, the honest introspection, and the integrity to be counted worthy?  Are caring, submission, yieldedness, and forgiveness, elements of our spiritual repertoire?   When was the last time we extended mercy, and made a great sacrifice to bring about reconciliation?

Our faith is not about saving our skin by going to the place of safety.  We can know when it’s time to flee, where the place of safety is, and even have our airline tickets to get there, but if we are not practicing pure religion – we are going to miss out altogether (James 1:27).

Paul put it this way, “Though I have all the faith to move mountains, and have not Godly love, I am nothing.” (1Corinthians 13:2)

Let’s be more specific about the way we practice Godly love.  Let’s ask ourselves questions like:  Did I visit any who were sick, elderly or imprisoned?  When did I last put my reputation and life on the line for another?  Who have I served in a meaningful way?  Have I forgiven those who opposed me, or fought back?  Do I take a stand against false teachers?  Have  I taken a stand against injustice?  When did I set out to actually encourage someone?  Have I fully submitted my will to God’s will?  Is my relationship with God sincere and truthful?

This is not a popular message because it is a hard and relentless way of life – when we are living it.  People would rather hear about prophecy being fulfilled.  People would rather be entertained.  People would rather grow their congregations to be the biggest church.  But that is not what Jesus taught us to be.  Talk is cheap – and God is not fooled by it (Galatians 6:7):

“The Lord said, For as much as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honor me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their reverence toward me is taught by the precept of men.”  (Isaiah 29:13)

God is recreating Himself in mankind a little at a time (Genesis 1:27).  He is giving of His Godly attributes so that we might be as He is.  Christian living is measured by our disposition toward all other people.  Do we love them as God intends?  Do we respect God in them?  Am I ashamed of the Gospel?  Have we grown in our desire for all men to be able to enjoy the riches of God’s Kingdom?  Jesus said, "Inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.” (Matthew 25:40)

As we live our Christianity we learn to view ourselves more and more as God sees us.   We no longer justify ourselves – but ask to be justified by the blood of Jesus Christ.   We ask ourselves how much we have taken on a spiritual resemblance to Jesus Christ and His Father.  “Christianity,” are we living it?

Sermon:  "Living It"