Say It to Live It?

This fall in Youth Group we’re talking about various worldviews. Last Sunday night we discussed the Christian worldview. As I was making up the presentation, it occurred to me just how easy it is for us to lay out what we believe in writing. I can tell you that God created the world and that mankind bears the image of God (though fallen as we are). I can tell you that God is triune and that Jesus, the Son, died on the cross for our sins. I can tell you about the resurrection and the hope to come. 

The problems really come in when we start to think about what all of those things mean for us in our own lives. That’s much harder. 

Indeed, it doesn’t take long for us to see that we do not live consistently with the worldview that we profess. We might believe that we are accepted by God through the blood of Christ, but we often find ourselves living out of a place of fear, worried that God displeased with us. Our theology teaches us that Christ will one day make all things new, but we still approach so many things with cynicism. 

One of the interesting things, though, is that our worldview accounts for us living out of accord with our worldview. Paul says in Romans 7, “I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members.” The Christian worldview recognizes that we are sinners saved by grace. God knew that sin runs so deep in us, that we would continue to walk in ways contrary to what we even know to be true. The good news is that he loved us anyways. 

And here is the thing that’s really amazing about the Christian worldview: the more you meditate on the truth of the gospel — that Jesus died for you; that you are adopted by God;  that, despite your sin, he loves and accepts you — the more you come back to the truths of the gospel, the more they shape your behavior. In other words, the more you rehearse the truths of the gospel in your heart, the more you believe it, and the more you believe it, the more it begins to work into the fabric of your life, and the more you begin to live in conformity to what you really believe. 

It’s not enough just to say that Christianity is true; you really have to live it. But, in a way, the more you say Christianity is true, the more you will live it.

That I May Gain Christ

 

Think for a moment of some of the things that make up your life — your family, your job, your friends, your hobbies — all that stuff. What would change for you if God didn’t exist? 

This is a great meditation for anyone who wants to see the ways in which God has changed their lives or rescued them from sin. Some of us can look at very specific things and say, “If God weren’t real, this part of my life would be drastically different.” Whether it’s in our marriages, or the way we treat our family, or whatever it is, the reality of God in our lives impacts the way we live.

But it is equally a meditation on the places in your life that you have not surrendered to God. It might be easy enough to focus on the places where believing in God changes your behavior. But are you brave enough to say, “If God didn’t exist, it wouldn’t make any real difference in the way that I live?” 

The reality is this is more or less true for all of us. Each of us can recognize some way that our belief in God has changed us, even if it may be that we may need someone else to help point it out to us. And each of us can point to places in our lives where we’re either not thinking at all about God, or where we’re simply pretending God doesn’t exist. 

This semester in Youth Group, we’ll be talking about worldviews — what they are and why they matter. We are already learning that who you think Jesus is can have a profound influence on the way you live your life. We are also going to be learning about some of the inconsistencies, about how what we say we believe may not translate into how we behave or how it may not always affect the attitudes of our hearts. 

But we are also going to spend plenty of time talking about God’s grace. God knows that we don’t follow through perfectly on what we believe. He knows that we’re not faithful in loving him with our whole heart, and our entire mind, and with all of our strength. He knows we live huge chunks of our lives as though he doesn’t even exist. The good news is he still loves us; he’s still standing at your door knocking. 

Opening the door to Christ means getting honest with ourselves and with one another, and most of all with God. It means recognizing the places in our lives where we pretend God doesn’t exist, or the places where we don’t think God really matters, and inviting him in. 

And listen, this isn’t easy or light. It takes a great deal of courage to stop pretending. But here’s the assurance that we have from the Lord. He will not reject you - even if others do. He will not bring you to shame - even if others try to make you ashamed. Instead, Jesus will embrace you and he will walk with you as you begin to walk with him in every area of your life. 

Paul writes in Philippians 3:7-8, “Whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ.” The more we submit our lives to Christ and live out what we believe, the more life without Christ begins to look like a rubbish heap. That’s because there is a surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus, not just as Savior, but also as Lord; and not just in one part of our life, but all of them. 

What would change for you if God did exist, and he really wanted to know you?  

Joseph McDaniels
Director of Ministry to Families and Youth
Old Orchard Church