October 29, 2011

The Deepest Christian Principles

There is a finish line to the Christian life.

“Ah yes, I know this.” you say, “It will be when I reach the end of this earthly life and meet Jesus face to face.”

You are correct. That is the finish line where God proclaims, “Well done my good and faithful servant.” (Matthew 25:21, 23) or “I never knew you: depart from me, you that work iniquity.” (Matthew 7:23)

But I also believe that there is a second finish line before us; an absolute life agenda rooted on this side of Heaven. The Apostle Paul referred to it as “the race”. Like opposite sides of a coin, these two finish lines back up against each other with only the threshold between earth and Heaven separating the two.

The Christian life is a marathon course and a free ride, a life sentence and a pardon, a honeymoon and a funeral all wrapped into one. You will discover in all circumstances that the following statement applies, “For you are dead, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” Colossians 3:3.

For. You. Are. Dead. Such strong words and yet words intentionally chosen by God.

A life hidden with Christ in God is dependent on the self-perception of being dead. We put to death our natural selves, the attitudes, actions, and words which come instinctively to us. We forsake all defenses for our sin; the dead don’t need defense attorneys.  Confession and repentance are our steady diet. Nothing is to be done in strife or vanity, but surrender is always appropriate regardless of injustice or inconvenience. We are to clothe ourselves in humility.

Breaking it down: Your Life (1) Hidden (2) With Christ (3) In God (4):

(1) Your Life - You are an independent, indivisible, unit of life. You have many choices and options. You are a valuable entity stand alone.

(2) Hidden – You are not to be the captain of your own universe. An authentic Christian life is a hidden life. Think of it as a buried life, one that is deep and wholly surrendered.

(3) With Christ – Your salvation does not exist in private. There is someone keeping you company in hiding. You are accompanied by the very person who ventured into death ahead of you displaying all bravery and sacrifice of self, the Lord Jesus Christ. He is your constant companion who never leaves you nor forsakes you. If you can comprehend how Christ’s life on earth operated under the oversight of Heaven and the Father’s authority, then you can envision how the same governance applies to your life.

(4) In God – All things reside within God’s sovereign will. Nothing that touches your life is external to Him; all things are INTERNAL to Him. Nothing is beside Him, nothing is in cooperative partnership with Him, but EVERYTHING is IN HIM, swallowed whole.

Striving for a life hidden with Christ in God is the finish line a disciple never stops pursuing. The quest never ends this side of Heaven because there is always a war raging between the flesh and the spirit as long as we inhabit physical bodies. This hidden life is accomplished only in moments; therefore, strive to reduce the lags between moments so that your life may be as full of victory as possible.

“Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings.” Psalm 17:8

The psalmist paints a word picture of God having strong, protective wings. As His exceptional treasure, the apple of His eye, I am to remain tucked in under their shadow. When I humble myself, subdue my selfishness, suffocate my pride, and redirect attention off of myself toward Him, only then am I successfully hidden. Every challenge, distraction, demand and desire beckons me to step out from under those wings one step further from the stated objective. Brace yourselves and meditate on this: Victory over any battle boils down to a life hidden with Christ in God under the shadow of His mighty wings for all battles belong to the Lord.

The hidden life is not only dependent on a self-perception of being dead but also on a mindset of voluntary slavery. “Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness?” Romans 6:16

“Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves.” 1 Peter 2:16

A steep ransom has been paid for the souls of man. As He hung on the cross, Jesus proposed a new slave-master relationship. His message in layman’s terms was this, “Here I am, willingly accepting this torture and death in aim to pour out my blood for your life. I will not see my beloved sanctioned to Hell for their misdeeds. I will give all of myself to prevent it. I lay down the payment here on the dusty ground below the cross in drops of red. May I purchase you?”

“For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” 2 Corinthians 5:21

Slaves do not stake claims or have rights to personal property. There is no reservation of time, money, body, leisure, decisions, or reputation from their master’s ownership. We are called to live as God’s slaves. How can we deny this arrangement when we have accepted the ransom as paid?

“For you are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's.” 1 Corinthians 6:20

Dr. Adrian Rogers, late pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church in Memphis, Tennessee made the statement, "Salvation is the last independent decision you will make". This is true. Accepting Jesus’ blood as your ticket to eternal life means that you have no remaining rights to this earth-based one.

If you are on the fringe of victory but just can’t reach your breakthrough, then I would wager to guess that you aren’t seeing yourself as a dead or as a slave. You are laboring too hard to claim, gain, and guard things which no longer belong to you. Liberty, peace and power only arrive from within the One who embodies all three. We must hide in Him for His help to rain down upon us.

Would you allow Dr. S.M. Lockridge to introduce Him to you? (see below)

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