WHAT IS THE KEY TO THE CHRISTIAN LIFE?
Today there are so many fast-flying and easy "helpful" solutions that are offered for the problems of life. Every day there seems to be a new formula that is feverishly campaigned as the "key to success", which translates to a happy life. This has affected the church, as we Christians have been caught up in this too. Many new and better ideas are sweeping so many churches, while at the same time discipleship has become an element of the past! This has complicated the Christian life by adding, or taking away from, its simple purity. But the key to the Christian life has always been found in the Person and Work of Christ and not in any kind of formula or belief system.
Just think about how most new Christians go through a series of hoops. They see their sin and their need for a Savior and accept Jesus Christ into their life; then they start to imitate the activities of others around them (Bible reading, church attendance, fellowship, service). These are good activities, especially compared to their former life. The problem is, they begin to believe that these new habits, along with their efforts, will make them good Christians, and even guarantee a life of blessings! Hence they have been programmed to think that the Christian life consists of activity and effort on their part.
The dark side is that all this busyness and emotional high will wear off, and the new Christian will begin to get tired. The love and passion that once was fades slowly into mediocrity out of sheer exhaustion. The human effort did not work; their eyes were on the wrong thing! The activities that they thought would empower them did not work; and it was all for nothing, all of their good intentions and effort "will burn like "straw" (I Cor. 3:10-15). Discouraged, a lot of new Christians are tempted to quit altogether, and question their faith, all leading to frustration, feeling defeated, wounded and "ripped-off".
Billy Graham says, "80% of USA Christians are carnal." True, some do not even try to serve Christ at all. But many thousands give it their best shot, trying as hard as they can to "make Jesus happy," only to burn-out and go down in flames. Why do they fail? Because Bible reading, church attendance, and service for God do not make us more Christ like - their purpose is to open the door wider to the only One who can - Jesus Christ Himself. If you try to live the Christian life without Christ, you will fail miserably.
This can be the same with the person who grew up in the church. They see faith as a thing "we do", because my family did, and so forth. All the efforts they place in their faith are expected and encouraged, but most never take a deep ownership of it. They have trouble seeing their need for a Savior since they are good church members and never did wrong, or even experienced life outside of their Christian sub-culture. They have all the head knowledge, but that knowledge sometimes does not make it down18 inches to the heart, and another yard or so to the feet for action.
It is His life that gives you power, not any effort or activity on your part (Gal. 2:21). When you became a Christian, you voluntarily chose to exchange your life for His, becoming His servant, His property (Gal. 2:20; 1 Cor. 6:19). You gave up your life, and surrendered your will, aspirations and desires to Christ because He gave you His life (Rom. 6:1-11; 1 Thess. 5:9-10). This intimate exchange is why Christianity is first and foremost a relationship with God, and not a religion, or a set of rules, or a self-improvement program. That relationship is the key to Christianity.
Jesus Christ did not die on the cross for our sins just so we can have a "days worth of peace," or "A glob of joy," or a "A boost of love from above." He gives you HIMSELF. He IS those things - Peace, Love, Joy, Truth, Power, all living inside you, waiting to be unleashed by His Spirit. John called it, "the Father in me, doing His work" (John. 14:10). In I Peter 2:3,4, Peter called us to be "partakers of the divine nature," meaning that Christ actually shares His personality with us (Col. 2:9-10). "Christ in you is the hope of glory" (Col. 1:27). In other words, your only hope of glorifying and pleasing God is through what Christ already did for you, and we respond by trusting and obeying out of our faith and love relation to Him. It is Christ living in you, who produces fruits of the Spirit, not you (Gal. 5). Remember, they are called "fruits of the Spirit" not "fruits of the self", It's not your fruit because it's not your life -you exchanged it (Col. 3: 1-4, John. 15: 1-8). Without Him, we have no power, no fruit, and no life.
Some take this converted life too far and use is as an excuse to do nothing but sit in their pews and complain. They passively say, "Since it's all Christ and none of me, I guess I must be excused from having to do anything! Thus, all I have to do is "Let go and let God." This is "Baloney." (Greek: hjogwash-ima)! If we sit and do nothing, then nothing will get accomplished on earth for God's Kingdom! Calvin spent more time on prayer and our responsibility than any other subject, as did Augustine, Spurgeon, Wesley, and Luther. Jesus never intended that; check it out by reading through the Word! God does have work for us (the Great Commission, Matt. 28), we are Christ's Body, and time is slipping away (1 Cor. 1212; Matt. 28:18-20; Rev. 22:20).
So How Do I Balance Christ's part and My Part?
Col. 1:27-29 gives the combination of Christ's work and our work. Verse 27 clearly states the spiritual truth, "which is Christ in you, the hope of glory." "It MUST be Christ in you, not your effort alone." Then vs. 28-29 involves you," We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ. To this end I labor, struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me". This shows the practical truth. Paul gives specific instructions; proclaim Christ (evangelism) and teach in such a way that all will mature (growth). In doing these things, Paul says, "I struggle, and work hard... with all HIS energy." His energy applied to your life can "powerfully work within me," as it did for Paul. This personal power of Christ in you gives you patience with your friends, parents, the kids, a hunger for the Word, the power to do what's right when no one is looking, and a desire to know and use the spiritual gifts God has loaned to you. That's practical power for daily life - not just rules.
But How Do I Apply "Christ's Life" and Keep Going?
By Trusting: Trust means I believe and act by faith. I turn to the Lord in every decision, believing that He knows best (Prov. 3:5,6). I have no power on my own (John. 15:5), but His power in me is completely adequate for any situation in life (Col. 2:6-10; Phil, 4:13-19). This is the starting point of trust.
By Learning: Jesus Christ's power and Character and influence on me will increase more and more as I read, pray, study, worship and learn from my mistakes (2 Cor. 3:18; 2 Pet. 3:18; Gal, 5:25). He does not expect perfection from me, but He does expect us to make progress as His Spirit leads and teaches me.
By Obeying: Knowing my human tendency to be sinful, I must keep my desires on a short leash, and keep in step with the Spirit. I obey His prompting quickly and without question. He promises all the power I need to know the way and do what's right! (John 14:10; Rom. 4:21; 5:8-10; Gal, 2:20-21; 5:22-26; Phil. 4:13; 19:1; 1 Cor. 10:13).
By Working Hard: I am to rest and rely in Him. Having this attitude of trust and obedience, and also a desire to obey, I offer myself as a tool for Jesus to use (Rom 6:13, 12:1,2). We cannot do this just out of obligation or because this is what my family does; it must flow from our gratitude by what Christ did for me. My hands are His to work with, my feet are His to go with, my heart is His to love with, my mind is His to think with 24/7. Relaxed in His power, I live one day at a time, allowing Him to lead me, to use me, to fulfill me. This is Christ's simple plan for His "Body", the Church on earth.
Are you Using This Key or Your Own Effort?
Christ's life inside you is restrained until you allow it to be unleashed! He will not demand control; you must yield and surrender willingly. The activities of the Christian life (Bible reading & study, worship, fellowship, service, and witnessing) are extremely important for growth and maturity. But they are not the source of power in themselves, they keep you in touch with the life of Jesus Christ; HE is the power. With Him in control of your life, those activities will take on new meaning!
Let us make our hearts and Christian homes truly Christian, filled with, Prayer, Care, and Share......
© 1985, R.J. Krejcir Into Thy Word project http://www.discipleshiptools.org/