When it comes to our faith, there’s a big difference between being a consumer and being consumed.
God never meant for us to JUST use or consume Christianity in order to improve our lives. That may sound like an odd idea because our culture seeks out things simply because they make our lives better. Some people might even say they became Christians because they thought it was the greatest way to improve their lives.
That seems like a good idea because going to church and dropping your kids off at Sunday school does make us feel good. That feel good kind of Christianity is not what we see in the Bible though. For example, Paul modeled Christianity for us and his life was filled with frustration and pain.
I’m not trying to stop you from going to church or take your kids to Sunday school. I am trying to make you look again at what you hope to get from Christianity. Do you hope for something that will improve your current life or give you a new life entirely?
Misunderstanding the Message
Our problem starts with our confusion as to why God sent Jesus to die on the cross. He did not send Jesus because He wanted to give all the ‘good people’ a second chance to get into Heaven. He sent Jesus to make a way for His enemies, that’s you and me, to become transformed from dead people into redeemed children of God.
God doesn’t want to make us better people. He wants to make us into His new children. The difference between a ‘better person’ and an adopted child of God is staggering.
Compare the ideas of one of your friends getting into great shape and running a marathon with one of your friends receiving all the powers of Superman. I’d be proud and maybe a little jealous of the first guy, I’d be in complete awe of the second guy. It would be kind of silly to insulting to say that the second guy was just “better”.
That would be such an understatement that it would be wrong.
‘Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” – 2 Corinthians 5:17
In the same way that becoming like Superman is very different from becoming a marathon runner, becoming completely new is very different from becoming a better person.
Becoming a better person adds to our current life and becoming a new creation redefines our lives. Our daily walk with Christ should not look or feel anything like applying self-help practices. Our walk with Christ should be like stepping into a completely different life.
In the past, I didn’t seek out this new life because I didn’t know it was available. I genuinely assumed the new life Jesus talked about came from following all the rules and avoiding the physical and eternal consequences of sin.. That’s not the life that Jesus meant for me to have and that caused me to completely miss out on the incredible experience of becoming new for the first 25 years of my life.
The main difference between a check-list Christian and a new creation is humility. Everyday, I have to admit that I can’t build or create the life I want even if I add in all the Christian principles and practices. I have to admit that I need Christ’s power to get the life that my heart longs for.
This daily dose of humility and giving up control is one of the hardest parts of my day.
The Turning Point
Humility is really hard and the idea of a completely redefined life can be pretty scary. I also know from personal experience that it’s more than worth it. I was king of my life at one point and it was terrible.
I was addicted to porn and I was a people pleaser in every relationship. For years, I thought that the life I wanted was right over the next hill. It took quite a few crashes and God to show me that I needed Him to turn my life upside down.
It was the best thing that ever happened to me.
Most of us wouldn’t have a problem with many aspects of our lives becoming brand new. If you could give your body to God and get it back in prime physical condition, you would probably do it. I’m in okay shape and I would jump at that chance.
“And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart.” – Ezekiel 36:26
Thankfully, Jesus came to bind up the broken hearted and not to fix our bodies. In order to get those new hearts, we need to offer our old hearts to Him. We need to make ourselves living sacrifices. (Romans 12:1)
Throwing Away the Check-List
“And the Lord said: “Because this people draw near with their mouth and honor me with their lips, while their hearts are far from me.” – Isaiah 29:13
I’m not trying to give you one more thing to do on the Christianity check-list. I’m trying to make you get rid of that check-list. Instead of trying to improve your life, I am trying to point you to a life defined by newness and not drudgery.
That newness is found when you take your focus off what you can do and put it on what Jesus can do. He can take the old and broken and make it into something beautiful. If we want that to happen, we have to let go of our attempts to make ourselves better and let Him make us new.
Instead of trying to consume the principles of Christianity, we need to let Christ consume us. That requires us to give Him our WHOLE heart and ALL of our choices. Even though that is much harder than applying a few Christian principles, the result is absolutely priceless.
Image Copyright: Phil Roeder https://www.flickr.com/photos/tabor-roeder/6152033902/by