We Do vs Christ Did
Have you ever noticed how often we focus upon ourselves - our performance - when it comes to our faith? Much of the time, it seems, we spend far too much effort concentrating on ourselves instead of the beauty and magnificence of God. Or, we're constantly concerned about what we do rather than what Christ did.
Many of us do this. And it's not because we're obsessed with bad things. We want to know how to be more faithful disciples. We want to grow in our faith. We want to be joyful, content, etc. But that's part of the problem: we, we, we, we.
Without meaning to, and with no malicious intent, our faith can become all about us - our needs and our wants. But this inward focus, instead of helping us become more faithful Christians, can often work against us. How?
Well, interestingly, one of the ways a Christian can lapse into spiritual depression is by being so inward focused that the weight of our spiritual short-comings and unworthiness can begin to crush us. As we compare ourselves to where God has called us to be or where other Christians are, we can move quickly into despair because, in our self-assessment, we keep coming up short.
That's why some of the best counsel I ever received when I was at such a place a number of years ago was this: Take the focus off of myself and spend some considerable time dwelling on our incomparable Christ. Because when it comes down to it, it's not about me, it's about him. It's not about my performance... what I can do, but what he has done.
It's only when I begin to really believe and embrace that truth that I get back to following Christ in a positive way.
What I discovered is that attempting to draw strength from myself is a fount that will eventually dry up. But going to the One who is Living Water is where we find a never-ending source of strength, grace, and love.
Our Incomparable Christ
The other risk of such intense self-focus is that when we concentrate so much on ourselves, our work, our story, our faith, and so on, we give the distinct impression to the rest of the world that Christianity is about us and not about Christ.
Therefore, in the next few posts I want to explore the riches of our incomparable Christ found in Hebrews 1:1-4. I hope by spending time focusing on his greatness and majesty, we might be encouraged and reminded why Jesus, and not ourselves, is much more worthy of our continual gaze.
In their study guide, "Being God's Man in the Face of Temptation," Steven Arterburn, Kenny Luck, and Todd Wendorff introduce the topic of men's temptations by listing a sort of "Top Ten" (in this case, it's only eight) temptations men face. They say a man is tempted to...
These are the areas they unpack throughout the rest of the study. I thought it might be helpful and good for me to revisit this study (which I did ten years ago) and see how my answers I wrote then match my thinking today. And, in the process, I hope to be able share some wisdom with you as well as receive some wisdom from you on these issues.
Five key ideas this study helps to provide us are...
You can order your own copy of the study guide here. I encourage you to do so as I found it to be a great blessing in helping me grow in godliness.
Featuring R.C. Sproul
Produced by Ligonier Ministries
John 3:1-15 (ESV)
Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. 2 This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.” 3 Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” 4 Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born?” 5 Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ 8 The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
9 Nicodemus said to him, “How can these things be?” 10 Jesus answered him, “Are you the teacher of Israel and yet you do not understand these things? 11 Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know, and bear witness to what we have seen, but you do not receive our testimony. 12 If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things? 13 No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. 14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.
Featuring Ken Boa
Check out more at KenBoa.org
from J. Oswald Sanders...
True greatness, true leadership, is found in giving yourself in service to others, not in coaxing or inducing others to serve you. True service is never without cost. …But the true spiritual leader is focused on the service he or she can render to God and other people, not on the residuals and perks of high office or holy title. We must aim to put more into life than we take out.
The genuine disciple of Christ earnestly desires a closer walk with God and a greater conformity to Christ. If these are absent, there is reason to doubt the genuineness of the discipleship.
…the goal of the Christian life is to attain in ever-increasing degree the standard of spiritual maturity which was seen in perfection in Christ.
A great piece by T.M. Moore on a multifaceted understanding of the biblical vision of justice.
from The Fellowship of Ailbe
Biblical justice has five harmonious facets, and they're all good.
The Law is Good (4)
“You shall appoint judges and officers in all your gates, which the LORD your God gives you, according to your tribes, and they shall judge the people with just judgment. You shall not pervert justice; you shall not show partiality, nor take a bribe, for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and twists the words of the righteous. You shall follow what is altogether just, that you may live and inherit the land which the LORD your God is giving you.” Deuteronomy 16.18-20
God’s harmony on earth
The harmony of God, which is an aspect of His goodness, consists in the effective, cooperative, and fruitful working together of the three Persons of the Trinity, each according to His unique office, and all together in a spiritual symphony of unity, order, creativity, holiness, and love. There is no discord or dissonance in the divine Godhead, only a perfect and harmonious song of love.
The Law of God encodes the harmony of God like a musical score encodes the mind of its composer. As a musical composition plays out, we delight in the many and varied harmonies combining and blending musical lines, instruments, rhythms, and motifs into one transcendent experience of goodness.
When the harmony of the Godhead plays out through the Law of God, it takes the form of justice. All the Law of God is just (“righteous,” Rom. 7.12), and it provides justice for all members of a community and all aspects of that community’s life. Justice is the harmonious good will of God coming to expression in relationships, roles, and responsibilities. A society is just when harmony exists as God intends, and the community in which justice flourishes abounds in righteousness, peace, and joy in the Lord.
No wonder justice has such a high priority in the mind of God. The harmony of justice encoded in God’s Law can be seen in the five facets of justice outlined in the Law.
Click here to read the article.
Featuring Ken Boa
Check out more at KenBoa.org
Check out this great video lesson from Tony Evans on what it means to be a "Kingdom man." This video is based on Dr. Evans' book by the same title. You can click here to order it or learn more about it.
by T.M. Moore
from The Fellowship of Ailbe
Seeking the Kingdom of God must be the highest priority for every believer in Jesus Christ. If it’s not yours, it’s because you do not understand the Kingdom, or you do not believe it is as important, as glorious, or as powerful and transforming as the Scriptures teach.
The Kingdom of God is Jesus Christ, breaking into human experience by His Word and Spirit, through His Church. It is a spiritual domain, which King Jesus is advancing by His Word and Spirit, in and through the people of God, by and for the glory of God. Where the Kingdom of God is increasing, the goodness of the Lord – His righteousness, peace, and joy – is evident in a wide variety of ways.
The progress of the Kingdom has been more or less visible in different places and times, depending on the extent to which God’s people are faithful in their calling to seek it. In our day, in our country, among the followers of Jesus Christ, the presence of the Kingdom is increasingly marginalized, as churches proclaim a weak and truncated gospel of “near Christianity” rather than the Gospel of the Kingdom of God, the Gospel proclaimed by Jesus and the Apostles.
Click here to read more.
Matthew 28:18 - And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.
Philippians 2:9-11 - Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Compartmentalized Living Won't Do
I remember when I first started using the phrase, “faith for every sphere of life.” It began as I started studying the Lordship of Jesus Christ. It just made sense that if Jesus Christ is the Lord of heaven and earth, then he is Lord of everything. And if he is the Lord of all there is, then I must submit to him in every sphere of my life, or else I should stop calling him Lord. Jesus said as much in Luke 6:46,
Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I tell you? (NRSV)
This notion is in marked contrast to the way many people think and live, including myself in the early days of my faith. I, like plenty of other folks, had long been an adherent of a compartmentalized faith. Men, you know the drill: the Christian faith is fine for Sunday mornings, but it has nothing to do with the rest of your life. It’s embarrassing to admit, but that’s where I was.
Personal, Not Private
Instead, the Christian faith should be understood as a comprehensive view of life. The secular world around us, however, still prefers the church to remain silent about anything not having to do with personal prayers and worship on Sunday mornings. Faith, they say, is private. Sure, you can practice it at home, or even with other Christians on Sunday mornings, but don’t you dare bring it into the public square. Jesus, however, doesn't give us that option. The Christian faith certainly ought to be personal, but it should never be private. To paraphrase the Dutch theologian and statesman, Abraham Kuyper, "there is not a square inch in all the universe about which the Lord Jesus Christ does not declare his own.”
As a United Methodist, I have rejoiced that John Wesley took just such a view of the Christian faith. He called it Scriptural Holiness and said it was his purpose in life to spread such Scriptural Holiness over the land. For Wesley, holiness was inward but also outward. It was personal and it was social. There was no picking and choosing. Faith must permeate every aspect of a Christian’s life – prayer, personal devotions, worship, marriage, parenting, work, economics, politics, education, the arts, personal morality, relationships, civic duty, and serving the community, just to name a few spheres of life.
This Includes Your Life
I encourage you to prayerfully ask yourself what it would mean for you to understand there is not even the smallest corner of your life about which Jesus Christ, as Lord, is unconcerned. How would acknowledging and submitting to that truth change your life? How would it bless your relationship with your family and friends? What consequences would it have for you in your workplace? Can you imagine the possibilities? Brothers, Christ is calling you to follow him in every sphere of your lives. Do you hear his voice? Will you follow him?
· Look again at those questions in the last paragraph. They are not rhetorical. They are questions Christ requires we ask ourselves, as well as answer. More than that, we must live out those answers before a world in desperate need of godly men.
· Write down as many “spheres” of your life as you can think of. Which of those spheres are you submitting to the Lord? Which ones are you keeping from him? Why?
· How would submitting to Christ’s lordship in those spheres of life change the way you are living your life in those areas? Be as specific as possible.
· Write your answers to each of those questions down in a journal or on an index card. Then pray over them, asking God to lead you to greater faithfulness. Meet with some accountability partners and discuss the questions and your answers and then pray about how each of you can help one another in this pursuit.
Lord of heaven and earth, remind me this day that there is not a square inch in all the universe about which you are unconcerned. While I rejoice that I have seen changes in my life through the gracious work of your Spirit, please show me those areas I am attempting to keep from you. Convict me of my sin and rebellion in those areas and turn my hard heart to flesh and joyful obedience. Please let my life faithfully bear witness to you as I serve as your ambassador to other men who are struggling with handing you the reigns in their lives. Together, may we extend your glorious Kingdom into every sphere of life here on earth, as it already is in heaven. In the name of the King of kings and Lord of lords I pray. Amen.
Helping you extend
The Fellowship of Ailbe
Institute for Faith, Work, & Economics
Ravi Zacharias International Ministries
C.S. Lewis Institute
The Gospel Coalition
The Institute on Religion and Democracy
Every Square Inch Ministries
Gene Edward Veith
Center for Cultural Leadership
Church and Culture