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Living The Lifestyle

In the fall of 1995, I was living in Egypt. My family had sent me a care package with goodies from home. I got some Dr Peppers, VHS tapes of my favorite TV shows, a tape recording of my favorite radio station and a stack of CD’s from the local Christian bookstore. As I shifted through the CD’s, one in particular caught my attention, “Jesus Freak” by DC Talk. It had been a few years since they released an album, so I was excited. I immediately put it in and hit play. When it got to song 4, I heard the words of Brennan Manning for the first time as “What If I Stumble?” began to play. The quote said, “The greatest single cause of atheism in the world today is Christians: who acknowledge Jesus with their lips, walk out the door and deny Him by their lifestyle. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable.” It shook me to say the least.

I had been raised in a church with a pastor whose slogan for the church was, “Christianity isn’t a religion…it’s a lifestyle Jesus commanded us to live.” I had been disciples to live that lifestyle, but for some reason when I heard the words on that CD, it hit me that I wasn’t supposed to live like a Christian just for Jesus. There is a world of people all around me who don’t know Jesus and are basing their opinion of Him based on how they see me live and act. My faith couldn’t be just something that I talked about. I didn’t want anyone to turn away from the cross based on the things I did, so I determined to live a life that would point people to Him rather than to push them further into unbelief.

Colossians 4:5 says, “Walk in the wisdom of God as you live before the unbelievers, and make it your duty to make him known” (TPT). As we mature in Christ, our lives begin to change as we are made new from the inside out. The way we think, behave and speak begin to change the more we become like Him. Each of us have to come to a point though where we choose to undergo that chrysalis so that our lives on the outside reflect what we believe on the inside. We will never arrive at living for Him perfectly, so perfection is not the goal. Getting a little bit more like Jesus every day is. We still have to contend with our flesh and we will still stumble, but as we mature, we learn to rely on His grace more. Our lives become living examples of the freedom and change God brings and that’s what will help an unbelieving world find attractive.

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

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An Instrument Of Blessing

Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace;
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love;
for it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

St. Francis of Asisi

I was reminded of this prayer recently. It’s been a while since I’ve read it. There are so many good things in it that we should pray as well. One of the things I really love about this prayer is that it reminds me to be more concerned with others than myself. It reminds me that I’m not supposed to run from hatred, I’m to sow love into it. I’m not supposed to get away from any of these negative things as a believer. I’m supposed to give what God has given me and plant it in the lives of people and in situations. St. Francis understood that.

He showed in this prayer and in his life that we should be focused on others more than we are on ourselves. When we do things for others, it’s for Christ. When we serve, we are actually leading. When we are helping others, we are really helping ourselves. I am constantly trying to see how Jesus lived and behaved in different situations to see if I’m living that way or behaving that way. Of course I fall short a lot of the time, but that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t try. If He was our ultimate example of how to live, we should model our lives after His.

If He wasn’t afraid to sow love into hatred, then I shouldn’t be either. If it didn’t bother Him to spend time with the lost in an effort to save them, then it shouldn’t bother me. If He humbled Himself to wash the feet of those whom He was leading, then I should be willing to humble myself and serve them too. If His life was about showing love and giving, then mine should be too. It doesn’t matter who we are, we each have the ability to sow seeds into situations and lives. We just have to choose to do it.

What situations are you facing today that need God’s seeds planted in them? Who has God shown you that needs you to meet their needs before you meet your own? Take time today to purposefully give and plant instead of trying to receive. I’ve learned that someone else always has it worse than you do. No matter how bad your life might be, there’s always someone who needs your help. As God uses you to change their situation, more often than not, He changes yours. You just have to be willing to give before you receive.

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