Read Philippians 2:12-18
ALSO IN SCRIPTURE
“Be careful to live properly among your unbelieving neighbors. Then even if they accuse you of doing wrong, they will see your honorable behavior, and they will give honor to God when he judges the world” (1 Peter 2:12 NLT).
Christian living can be such a wonderful experience, one that helps one to learn, to grow, and to become transformative in the world around them; however, it can also seem near impossible to live as a Christian in today’s world, given all of the different things vying for our worship, let alone where to begin. Of course, this has always been the case and is not exclusive to our time; however, our time does present a number of unique challenges that other times and periods did not present.
I remember that, as a kid, I used to truly aspire to live a Biblically-based life. By kid, I mean when I was in my formative years leading up to my mid teens. Once I hit, 16 years old or so, I began to seek out my own religious identity apart from that of my parents; still, leading up until that point, I always aspired to please Jesus even though I realize I was far from perfect at that. Truthfully, even as a wayward teen, I never sought to displease Jesus or God, it’s just that I began to seek Ultimate Reality out for myself.
As a kid, I would try to read the Bible from front to back because that is how I was taught books were read. I didn’t realize that method didn’t work in all regards and the Bible was one of those books that a front-to-back reading wasn’t necessarily the most efficacious. I wasn’t taught in Sunday School, or church for that matter (to my recollection), that I could read the Bible in any order I wanted to and that the Bible doesn’t read chronologically from front to back.
For instance, the first five books of the Bible tell of Creation and the first peoples to inhabit the earth. It shares of the founding of the faith in Yaweh and how Yahweh planned to bring redemption into the world through that faith. Laws and ways of living were established in those early books; however, then the Bible goes off into history, then legen, then poetry, then prose, then prophecy, with other earlier accounts such as Job dispersed in between.
I wasn’t taught that praying DID NOT require bowing one’s head and dropping to one’s knees at specific times, but that prayer can be an ongoing, sometimes outloud, dialogue with Jesus in the shower or driving down the road. I wasn’t taught that failure is a required ingredient to success and that perfection didn’t happen overnight, but was an ongoing process.
My mom, God bless her, taught me some of those things. For instance, one of the ways she used to read the Bible was to pray for guidance and then to open the page to a random place and start reading. What a powerful and trusting way to approach Scripture. One can also read it by following the Chronology of the stories being told. There are a plethora of ways to approach Scripture in meaningful and meditative ways.
The same is true with every aspect of Christian living, not just reading Scripture and prayer. Evangelism, for instance, need not be handing out awkward tracts to people and telling them to “turn or burn”. In fact, that is the LEAST effective way of evangelism and one that has been the least employed in the church’s most successful moments. Evangelism, rather, is the sharing of Jesus Christ in ways that are relevant to whom one is sharing Him. This can be done with words, with actions, with silent presence, and most certainly by example.
If one knows you are a Christian, trust me when I say that they are most definitely watching how you live and act. This is not necessarily true as to determine whether you sin or not, but whether or not you LIVE UP to the values you preach. If you are graceful, loving, compassionate, present, and a peacemaker among those you know, they will begin to associate those things with your faith; however, if you are the opposite of what you preach, you will be seen as a fake or, worse yet, your faith will become associated with those things.
The fact is that it important to daily engage in Christian living. The disciplines of studying Scripture, praying, partaking in the life of the Church, fellowshipping and being in accountability groups, observing the ordinances of God (Holy Communion, worship, etc.), sharing one’s faith and more are all vital to cultivating the true Christian life. Let us, as Christians, not shy away from doing so but actually double down in doing so. We can do so that both honors Christ and respects the people and culture to whom we are sharing. Let us take our faith seriously so as to not waste the grace God has given us to be transformed and participate in making more disciples of Jesus Christ for the tranformation of the world!
THOUGHT OF THE DAY
“The Christian faith never exists except as ‘translated’ into a culture.” – David Bosch
Lord help me translate the Christian life into my context so that I may be transformed and, as such, be transformative for your glory in the lives of others. Amen.