CHRIST OUR LIFE
Col.1: 9 For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding;10 That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God;
11 Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness;
12 Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light:
13 Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:
14 In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:
15 Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature:
16 For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:
17 And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.
18 And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.
The faith is commonly called Christianity. Notice that word has “Christ” in it,, and so it should.
Col.3: If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.2 Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.
3 For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.
4 When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.
Paul goes from stating that Christ should have all the preeminence and now says that Christ is our life. Think about that little but powerful phrase. Jesus the Christ is our life. In fact Paul tells the Galatians that he has been crucified and the life that Paul now lives he lives by faith in Christ. Again Paul says “For me to live is Christ…”. Over and over again Paul reinforces the truth that as Christians our lives should be consumed with Christ. In fact our lives should be a consistent effort to die to ourselves and allow Christ to live through us in the power of the Spirit. The concept is expansive in the extreme.
This is not “try Jesus” and if you like Him give Him some space in your life. This is not just a convenient ticket to heaven and then a few hours on Sunday morning. The Scriptures declare that He is our life. Now those words have a profound meaning. We so often define our faith in terms of dos and don’ts and what we believe, but rarely do we define our faith as us having died and now having our very life in Christ. The enormity of that supposition cannot be overstated. He is our life in all things. And that life begins with the Spirit and the very presence of His Being. That is supernatural and if it is a reality than it translates into human deeds and thoughts and words.
The incorporeal presence of Christ will not be a partner or a co-pilot. We have so taken the sacred and turned it into that which serves us and not surrendered to the mighty power of Christ Who actually lives in every true believer. Again, that is a very great mystery which rarely finds the expression which would authenticate such a mind boggling truth. The Spirit of Christ desires a body upon this earth and that body is yours. But the emphasis continues to be on outward alterations, moral convictions, and changing the culture rather than surrendering to the Christ who lives inside the believer.
And with that misguided focus the church has not only created a group of Americans who are much more American than Christian, but it has grossly misrepresented the Person of Jesus and the faith that follows Him. Professing believers are much more known for what they are against than being a follower of Jesus. We are known for our buildings and our denomination and our moral convictions and our conservative politics. We are known as anti-gay marriage instead of loving gay people. We are known for being against abortion instead of loving pregnant mothers or having a sweeping evangelical movement for adoption. It is because we treat Christ like the CEO of our company rather than our very lives. And at the core of the problem is that the church no longer really knows and understands who Jesus is. Roll that around in your mind.
Don’t get me wrong and assume that I know Him completely and I am speaking from high atop an ivory tower of spiritual insight. No, I am not. What I am saying is that being a believer is more than checking the correct theological boxes. It is more than having a conviction about the deity of Christ. It is more than embracing the doctrine of justification by faith. Those things should be taught and understood by all of us, but being a believer in Jesus is much more than that. In fact the term “Christ follower” is a good term which I often use but in reality also limits the true faith. Yes, we are followers but we should be more than that.
You see the word “follower” seems to indicate we are following behind Jesus to varying degrees depending on your commitment level. But as noble and challenging as that may sound, we are called to something greater and much more challenging. We are called to such a level of surrender that we die and He begins to actually live through us. Now that is some colossal standard which the church has conveniently discarded long ago. How many professing believers awaken each morning and seek communion with Him and determine to die that day and allow Him to live His life through them? That seems like some kind of fairy tale in these days of fast food religion and moral crusades.
But does it not at least make contact with your mind about the wonderful and all consuming prospect of actually dying to yourself and actually experiencing the Person of Jesus Christ living through you? If you really take time to think about that prospect then you surely must see how the church has presented a shallow and hollow and a seriously flawed version of the faith. To say we have lowered the bar is an understatement because in the light of “Christ who is our life” the church has no bar at all. What passes for Christianity isn’t even the true faith anymore. It is a cheap counterfeit.
And since we have learned to live with and practice that counterfeit and have become complacent and content with being a member in good standing within a culture of darkness and death, how can we ever find the desire or the thirst for more? When we have embraced and even reveled in things that have taken the spiritual life out of our walk, how do we find the strength, the motivation, and even the wisdom to begin a search for those things and renounce them? And can we deny self when self is in control and is the keeper of the gate in our hearts and minds? The flesh will fight with all it has to prevent being exposed and having its power threatened. So the flesh controls the mind and the heart and takes all information that it finds objectionable and either modifies it or rejects it. And given that is a conundrum that only fasting a prayer can overcome. As Jesus said, “This kind does not come forth except by prayer and fasting”.
The church continues to repackage and dilute the Word of God. Preachers teach that giving Christ the preeminence means He is first in your life and then comes your family and then comes your country. That is an incredible misrepresentation of Scriptural truth. Christ is not first in a long list or even a short list. He is our very life, and when that is pursued then all the rest will take care of itself. If Christ is your life then you will be a good father or husband or employee. But we have so many conferences about “How to…” be a wife or husband or be financially wise etc., etc., etc.. So instead of teaching and challenging people concerning the depth of their discipleship we continue to teach people like a booth at a Home Depot.
I Cor.4: 10 We are fools for Christ's sake
What does Paul mean “We are fools for Christ’s sake…”? Here is a startling revelation which when understood correctly should bring us to our knees in repentance. In a culture that is violent, obsessed with sex, hateful, money loving, hedonistic, self righteous, full of addictions, and deeply dark spiritually, shouldn’t a person through whom Christ actually lives appear as a fool? Then why is the church welcomed to the political table? Why are preachers invited on talk shows? Why are preachers famous and well respected among the heathen? How can a politician feel comfortable sitting in a church service looking for votes? Why do so many politicians tout their Christian faith as an asset to their portfolio and millions will vote because of that vacuous testimony? In fact, how can a true believer even care about running for office to say nothing of getting elected?
We have long since ceased being seen as fools. Look at the church signs and if the church is large the pastor’s name is preceded by “Dr.”. We seek the approval and recognition and respect of the world. And if someone called us a fool because of our odd lifestyle we would be offended. But have no fear, we are not in danger of being called fools because our lives are far from being odd. We blend in very nicely with this culture with the major and outstanding difference being we travel back and forth to a building on Sunday mornings.
So when Christ is our life then we have no life upon this earth. We are living sacrifices that die and become conduits for His life. I realize that seems like religious semantics but the essence of the truth is real and sacred and exists in the eternal realm. But it does not come by acknowledging it in a philosophical way. And it does not come by adding fifteen minutes to your Bible reading. It does not come by deciding to attend church regularly. This kind of spiritual experience will only be realized through prayer and fasting. Yes, consume the Word, but without prayer and fasting you are gaining Biblical knowledge in the mind. How many today are so well versed in the Greek and Hebrew and in systematic theology and doctrine, but are they know for the depth of their prayer life?
Prayer, my friends, is the most difficult of all the spiritual disciplines. There are many reasons for this but here are two. First, our lives are so consumed with the temporal cares of this world that we have little time for prayer. Couples who are having marital difficulties are often encouraged to set aside a date night, but how often are they encouraged to set aside a prayer and fasting night? I realize that sounds way too fanatical so another excuse to spend money and eat will have to suffice.
Secondly, prayer is the only piece of omnipotence we are offered. But being a “can do” kind of people we feel very confident in our abilities to create plans and organize and reach our desired goals. But when a believer actually does get serious about prayer and fasting he can be sure to encounter demonic forces. The devil cares little about what you say or what you can do, but he is fearful about what God can do. And God does answer prayer and God does move in the spirit realm when a righteous believer offers a sacrifice of prayer. This kind of prayer sees you staying up later than usual and getting up earlier than usual. This is the kind of prayer that changes your ordinary life rather than seeing prayer as an inconvenience to that ordinary life. In the gatherings on Sunday there is more singing, more talking, more greeting, more announcements, more preaching, more invitation, and just about more everything than there is prayer. That speaks volumes about what the church believes about prayer.
True and sacrificial prayer demonstrates that Jesus is the vine. We as the branches were grafted in by faith but somehow we seem to believe we no longer are dependent upon that same vine. But if we ever really desire to have Jesus be our life and hope then we must have an awakening to the spiritual portal called prayer. And here is where I exhort all of us including and most of all myself. Let us surrender to a life of prayer and even fasting. Have we not yet grown tired of this dry and powerless expression the faith called evangelical? Has the Spirit quickened our hearts and our understanding to see where we now sit and how the Spirit calls out for us to arise and set your faces like a flint to seek Christ and deny yourself.
I suggest that no one who does that will ever regret it either in this life or in the life to come.