I am a C…

I defined Christianity as centering on Jesus Christ and Him crucified. And Paul talks later in Corinthians about Jesus being the foundation. It is how we build upon it that can differ.

I don’t want to be called a Christian according to one friend’s definition. But I wouldn’t say I am a “super Christian” as she described another friend. By her definition, you can cuss or you can be offended by it. You can get drunk under age or you can rarely drink. You can wait to have sex until you are married or have sex with your boyfriend.

My initial thought is this: there is an often missed distinction between being saved and being a Christian. The distinction is sometimes made in classrooms at Christian schools or maybe mentioned in church, but gets titled justification and sanctification. There is a single action required to be saved “believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.” Or maybe two, depending on where you look: “if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”

That is Christianity: the religion, the act, the belief. Jesus Christ and Him crucified. The foundation which is salvation. But there is building going on around and on top of that foundation. Do you build with gold, silver and precious stones? Or wood, hay and straw?

How you build upon this salvation defines a Christian life or not. A Christian is one who builds with the gold, silver and precious stones. Those are the values and guidelines written throughout the Bible. Following those is what defines a Christian. If you love God, you will obey His commands. And sometimes there is a big step between believing and loving and obeying.

So what about the one who struggles in their life…in how they live? They build with silver and straw. Must a life be perfect for it to be defined as Christian? And what about the one who only builds with gold? Are they included because their actions line up?

For those that use silver and straw, there is forgiveness. For those who only use gold, there is freedom. But with forgiveness must come repentance. And with freedom must come the heart which loves God.

A Christian aims at at perfection. When they miss, they repent and aim again at perfection. Why? Because they love God and reaching at that perfection is evidence of that love. It is living the life laid out in the Bible for God’s sake.

I am saved because I believe. I am a Christian because I strive and desire to live according to God’s rules and for Him.

It is a selfless life. Not My Own- the radical selflessness of the Christian life.

“For the one principle of hell is–‘I am my own. I am my own king and my own subject. I am the centre from which go out my thoughts; I am the object and end of my thoughts; back upon me as the alpha and omega of life, my thoughts return. My own glory is, and ought to be, my chief care; my ambition, to gather the regards of men to the one centre, myself. My pleasure is my pleasure. My kingdom is–as many as I can bring to acknowledge my greatness over them. My judgment is the faultless rule of things. My right is–what I desire.”
George MacDonald, Unspoken Sermons- Kingship

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Control Freak, part 2

Nearly a year and a half ago I wrote about control in my old blog. It seems to have been a theme in my life, as I am sitting down the write the second part. Last time I wrote something along the lines of free will existing withing God’s control. But this time I want to focus on our control versus God’s control of our lives. Most of this has been sparked from the sermon series highlighting the principles of our church’s program called “Celebrate Recovery.” Many of their principles talk about control- in fact, 3 of the 5 mention control, and one other eludes to it. Number 3 and number 5 caught my attention and started an argument of sorts in my mind.

“Consciously choose to commit all my life and will to Christ’s care and control.”
“Voluntarily submit to every change God want to make in my life and humbly ask Him to remove my character defects.”

I won’t go into these in detail, but I was stuck by the simpleness of those statements and the complexity of the real issue. Don’t get me wrong, I am a big proponent of stating the simple sounding truth because it is the truth. But when it comes to working with real people on real issues, the simplicity becomes much more complex. Here is the complexity as I see it.

We all have been given a desire to be in control; it may even be part of the “image of God” in us. In Genesis, God gave man control over the animals and nature. But He did not give us control over each other or our own lives. The plan was for Him to be in control us.

But when Eve took the fruit, she was exercising control over her own life rather than trusting God’s control. Ever since, we seek to control our own lives, desiring the same things Eve did: food (basic necessities), enjoyment in beauty and good things, and wisdom (and fortune and fame, etc). We desire to live fuller lives by following our control for our lives.

If you know anything about controlling your own life, you should know that you can’t truly reach that fuller life you are seeking. When the desire for a full life is unmet, we cling to what we have, which is the control. We still desire to control our lives, even if we aren’t getting the life we want.

The irony is when you give up that control to God’s plan and love, then you will find that full life you desire. And why should we give the control over to God? The verse to quote is Jesus saying He comes to bring life to the fullest. The facts to consider are these: God made you and knows you better than you do. God made the world, and while it has fallen short of His plan, He still knows it better than you could ever. He is perfect- never making mistakes or doing wrong. He loves you, and therefore wants to best for you, according to how He made you, which may not always line up with what you want.

He is more than qualified to control your life and that control will bring you the life you desire. Once this is wrestled with and accepted, then and only then will the principles of the “Celebrate Recovery” be beneficial. Life and change and growth are so much more complex than the simple truths we state.

The control of my life is Not My Own.