"First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is being reported all over the world.”
I think it is safe to say that we have all at some point in our lives made the excuse that, “Sometimes life just happens!” Time seems to speed up, our schedules seem to fill up, and before you know it all we can do is hold on as our busy lives seem to unfold like a giant, roller coaster ride. I find that this happens to me quite often, in that I get so busy with life that I do not truly live life to the full. I believe in Jesus Christ that He died on the cross to pay the penalty for my sin, rose from the grave, and now is seated at the right hand of the Father, interceding for me; but is my life truly being transformed by what I believe or is it just another thing that I add to my already busy life? How am I acting out my faith, and how do I glorify God by the way I live? I do not glorify God when I am not living for Him and pointing to Him, and it is just as true that I do not glorify God when I just “let my life happen.”
Everything is not always so cut and dry, this I know for a fact; but even amid life’s business, we should never let it determine how we live and who we live for. Sometimes life can be busy, and I have felt the pressure of a busy life. The past couple months have seemed extremely busy for me, between mess cooking for two weeks---which entailed 14 hour days, 7 days a week, plus two hours of class, and homework every week day---and three weeks of double watches---which entailed 8 hours of watch a day, anywhere from 2-6 hours of regular work a day, my classes, and homework. Life can get busy, and we have two choices we can make: We can either get dragged along with our busy schedules and watch our lives pass us by as life happens, or we can begin the discipline of “living on purpose”. Our choice will not necessarily change what our schedules look like all the time, but it will change the way we look and act as we carry out our schedules.
Paul wrote to the Christians in Rome and told them that he thanked God that their faith was being told all over the world. This does not just happen on accident; such a testimony is only established when we live our lives purposefully for the glory of God. I am greatly burdened for the Christians in my generation, because I meet a great deal of “Christians” but I do not see how their faith has impacted the way they live their lives. We are selfish Christians, captivated by the “American Dream”, mastered by our lusts, slaves to our wallets, exhausted from the fake Christianity we profess, and quite satisfied with making Christ a part of our lives so that we can have the assurance that we will not go to hell when we die. We are Christians who have fallen in love with comfort, embraced security, surrendered to the reality of this world, renounced any sort of risk taking for the Kingdom of God (especially if it will hurt our bank accounts or cut into our “me“ time), and settled for an “American Christianity”. We would rather be spectators in the crowds of this world rather than join the “extreme Christians”---the Jesus’ Freaks---in the arena who fight the battle of faith to the death. We have become Christless Christians---perhaps we are not Christians at all for to be a Christian is to be a follower of Christ and if we are not following Christ than surely we are not Christians. We are in the hands of an angry God who hates us with a righteous and holy hatred (I am sure your Sunday school teacher never told you that one!). Yes, He does offer mercy and grace to those who believe in Him that Jesus is Redeemer and Lord, and that those who are true lovers of Christ are held by Grace. However those who only know the truth but do nothing about it have no such assurance, for even Satan knows and believes that Jesus is God and came to earth as the Savior of the world, and he revolts in anger.
Hudson Taylor, a missionary to China and founder of the China Inland Mission, once said, “There is a needs-be for us to give ourselves for the life of the world. An easy, non-self-denying life will never be one of power. Fruit-bearing involves cross-bearing. There are not two Christs---an easy-going one for easy-going Christians, and a suffering, toiling one for exceptional believers. There is only one Christ. Are you willing to abide in Him, and thus to bear much fruit.” This is the cross-roads of life that we all come to where we must chose whom we will serve. We cannot chose Christ while refusing to take up our crosses and follow after Him---you cannot have one without the other.
Oh what I write, I am not just writing to others, but it is a message so dear and fresh in my own heart for it is a message that God continues to challenge me with as I live out my life. My heart stings from conviction as I think over these truths I now wish to share. So I lift up my voice and I take a stand to challenge Christians to live strategically for the glory of God. Strategy should not just be used by the missionary in a foreign land, a military commander on the battle field, or a corporate executive in the business world; but in order for us to live out each day for God’s glory, we must be living purposefully, planning carefully, strategizing effectively, praying fervently, and living momentarily in the shadow of the cross of Christ. Life will just happen if we let it, that is why we must decide right now to live on purpose for the glory of God.
To the Cross I Cling
Living on purpose for the glory of God is definitely not an easy thing to do, which is why I think it is good to remind ourselves of the verses from Hebrews 12:1-3: “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning it’s shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you do not grow weary and lose heart.” From these verses we can conclude that if we are not fixing our hearts and minds upon Christ and what He endured for us at the cross, we will become discouraged, worn out Christians. If we are to live our lives strategically for the glory of God, we must first be fixed upon the cross of Christ. We must be rooted in the Gospel, which is the power of God for salvation (Romans 1:16); a message that must not just be preached to unbelievers, but to believers too!
A good question to ask ourselves is, do we preach the gospel? Do we ever share our faith; and the reason for the hope we have? I find myself getting discouraged when I realize how little I share the gospel with others, but then I realize that I hardly ever share the gospel with myself! How can I preach a message I hardly know, and how can I hardly know a message that has completely turned the world upside down? The first step to living on purpose and glorifying God in every area of our lives is to preach the gospel to ourselves. Think about Christ’s great sacrifice for you that He would die and bear the Father’s wrath for your sin, know His love which is better than life, rejoice that now you have peace with God because of the Lord Jesus Christ. This should be a daily discipline of joy that we eagerly carry out in our lives. We must cling to the cross of Christ---we must live each day centered on the cross---or we will give up and quit. Why do we linger so far from the cross? Why do we hesitate to preach the gospel to ourselves? We are in a spiritual battle, and our enemy is strong, but the One whom we serve is stronger. The Lord Jesus Christ is our stronghold and He is our deliverer. When we are weak and weary He is strong, when we cannot stand He causes us to stand, when we are afraid He is by our side, in Him we are more than conquerors. So cling to the cross---live life on purpose by knowing God’s great love for you that He sent His Son to die in your place.
A Daily Battle
As you cling to the cross and begin the discipline of “Living on Purpose” also keep in mind that it is a battle you must fight daily. Even as I write this, I find the struggle to live purposefully for God’s glory more fierce than ever, which causes me to turn to God, begging Him for help and mercy. I do not want to waste my life, but rather I want to be spent completely and fully for God that He might be glorified in me.
Remember that you will grow weary and lose heart if you do not consider Jesus Christ and the great work He has accomplished on our behalf. He died that we might live, He took our punishment that we might share in His glory, He was raised from the dead that we might be made right with God, and He lives that we might also live. We must fix our gaze on Him so that we do not give up when the way is hard and the road is tough. We must rely on His strength to persevere through the difficulties that lay ahead that He gives us to exercise our spiritual muscles. Press on as you daily battle sin and choose to live purposefully for God.