January 4, 2010

To Live is Christ — is more than I can imagine

Yesterday’s church service was a grand experience. The sermon was about imagining what God can do in a life yielded to Him.

First, he challenged me to avoid the illusion of transformation. If a Christian is truly a Christian then their lives will have fresh life-change stories, meaning my testimony of what God is doing in me will be a daily event rather than a way-back-then conversion story.

The speaker said that genuine Christians will overcome old patterns and be moving forward in their lives. While I sometimes feel as if I’ve not made any progress, I’m encouraged that God is constantly speaking to me and challenging me to change. That is a good sign, even if I fall down far too often.

He also said that we will be known for what we stand for, not what we are against. Vibrant Christians should never be known as those ‘do not’ or ‘cannot’ people. My life needs to be positive, filled with helpful ideas and actions rather than a passive, “I-won’t” existence.

These things gave me cause to rejoice, to be thankful for what Christ has done so far, and to look forward to what He will do next. Even with all this in mind, I am surprised by today’s devotional verses and reading.

The Lord your God will make you abound in all the work of your hand, in the fruit of your body, in the increase of your livestock, and in the produce of your land for good. For the Lord will again rejoice over you for good as He rejoiced over your fathers, if you obey the voice of the Lord your God, to keep His commandments and His statutes which are written in this Book of the Law, and if you turn to the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul. (Deuteronomy 30:9–10)
The Old Testament covenants and promises were vivid literal depictions of the spiritual covenant of grace. In other words, what God gave His people back then was a literal picture of the spiritual blessings to come.

For example, the Sabbath was a shadow or example of the eternal rest of heaven and the trust experienced by believers who are resting in Christ before we get there. While the literal idea of taking one day in seven for physical rest and worship is valid and good for us, Hebrews 4 makes it clear that God had more in mind when He gave the Sabbath to His people.

It is the same with the prosperity promised in Deuteronomy 30. It might be true that many of God’s people today are blessed with material things, but not all are wealthy because this promise and its fulfillment in the OT are pictures of the spiritual fruitfulness of God’s people who are in Christ. We are promised an "abundant life" yet all will not experience financial and material prosperity (regardless of what the so-called “prosperity gospel” teaches). Instead, our lives will be fruitful and rich if we turn to the Lord with all our hearts.

It ties together the things that I have been considering. To live is Christ means just that — yielding my life to the Lord with all my heart, nothing held back. It is about being hungry for righteousness and having the humility and grace to be merciful. It is also about being pure in heart, without mixed or sullied motives and desires.

Clearly the motivation cannot be a literal interpretation of these verses because “the love of money is the root of all evil” and wealth is certainly a snare for many. Rather, my heart’s desire should be to live a fruitful life that glorifies God and blesses others.

Fo me, to live is Christ is about having the mind of Christ and dedicating my life to the same things that Christ dedicated His life to. By His obedience to God, His life was fruitful. Because He willingly gave it up, millions of people have experienced forgiveness of sin and eternal life.

I’ve no idea what God will do with my life through the same kind of yielded obedience, but as the preacher said yesterday, He always does “exceedingly abundantly above more than we can ask or imagine.”

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