Living Victoriously

Disclaimer: This post is from the archives, and may not represent the current views of the author. It also may not be at all interesting to read. Continue at your own peril!

I can’t decide what to write about today. Not much happened other than the usual Sunday morning service, so I’m currently trying to figure out a good topic to talk about instead. It’s definitely a toss-up, so perhaps I’ll deal with one and leave the other for a rainy day.

I suppose I probably shouldn’t say this, but I didn’t concentrate on the sermon all that much this morning in church. It’s probably not a good thing, but in my defence, I was still thinking about God. I think it’s all good. After all, I’ve kept the main points of the sermon tucked away in the back of my mind for if they’re ever needed. But what I got to thinking about today stemmed off of the sermon. The thought was this: Christ is everything I need.

It sounds simple, doesn’t it? It doesn’t really seem all that profound or revolutionary. I mean, that phrase or some variant of it is scattered throughout the Bible. But it just hit me in a new way. Usually, Christians say it but don’t really think about what they’re actually saying. Christ is everything I need. I’m not sure that I can emphasize this enough. Everything, everything, everything, everything, everything, everything, everything we need is found in Christ. Each and every single thing. Everything. Go back and reread the previous three sentences for as long as necessary until the truth of this sinks in.

You see, we as Christians are horrible at living double lives. And I know, because I do it myself, so I’m not accusing anyone else before myself. It’s hard to live in the world and yet not conform to the world, but it’s possible. You know why? Because the Bible says it. Too many pastors are saying, “We need to live in Christ, but it’s okay if you screw it up, because everyone does.” I don’t believe that. I mean, I believe that we are forgiven if we do screw up, but this tends to relax us to the point of saying, “Well, it’s just not practical to rely on God for everything. I mean, I can do some stuff myself, you know.” But the Bible says that we can live victorious lives in Christ – we have a source of joy, peace, love, grace, mercy, hope, and satisfaction in Him. If there’s any place we need to be, it’s there. And that applies for everything. The Bible says it’s possible to live in Him, and if it says that, I believe it’s true.

I’ve been reading a book called Spiritual Warfare by a guy named Dean Sherman. The part I read last night said something like this: living a victorious life in Christ is not holding a carrot on a stick in front of a donkey. In other words, God doesn’t set up standards that are completely unachievable. He’s not leading us on, always enticing us with a carrot, but never letting us taste it. No way. He’s the one trying to give us everything we could ever possibly want, and we’re sitting there contemplating at how to grab it while still holding onto the pile of garbage that we live in. It’s possible to be completely fulfilled, and I know how to do it. I’m not saying I’ve done it, but I want to get there. Everything we need is in Christ.

Let’s put this another way. When I was in kindergarten, we were taught a song about joy. I don’t exactly remember how it went, but basically, the letters J, O, and Y were equated to Jesus, Others, and You. You see, that’s how we get joy, by placing people in their proper position. First comes Jesus and our relationship with Him. That’s pretty straightforward, it’s just a matter of doing it. Closely connected with that come others – once we live in Christ, we are called to live in humble service for others. In The Purpose-Driven Life, Rick Warren states that humility is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less. It’s quite true. We need to place others before ourselves, not so that we’re behind everyone as if we’re unimportant, but so that they’re ahead of us. We need to always be conscious of this order: Jesus, Others, You. Once you have that, it produces a chain reaction through which comes not only joy, but a multitude of other positive character qualities and benefits for yourself and everyone around you. It’s amazing how it works – test it out and try it for yourself. It’s guaranteed to work.

So how does this relate to Christ being all I need? Surely I can’t eat Christ, can’t drink Christ, can’t sleep on Christ, and be sheltered from wind and rain by Christ, can I? I’m not saying that at all. We all need food, water, and shelter. But ask yourself this: where do those things come from? The typical answer (and the one I know you’d all say, because you’re thinking one step ahead of me) is God. After all, He made everything, so everything comes from Him. While this is true, we Christians so often don’t live that way. We say we believe that, but then we live as if those things come from us. We work to make the money that we use to buy our clothing, our food, and all that we need. Therefore, we live as if they come from us. Sure, we can live that way, but that way is so unfulfilling. The best way to live is to always be aware that every opportunity and everything you have and want comes from Christ.

And how do we live this way, in reality of this truth? The key, I believe, is to always be alert. In the book I mentioned before, Spiritual Warfare, the author tells us that there is a spiritual battle going on every minute of every day. And while we know that the outcome of the battle has already been decided, that doesn’t mean that it’s over. It’s constantly going on, and when we let our guard down, we open ourselves up to enemy attack. We need to constantly be alert – not scared, just alert – to how God is working in the world. We need to stop thinking that we can do anything with our own strength, but also start believing that with God on our side, we can do anything. And that’s the truth – God would much rather use someone who He knows is completely committed to Him than have to do things Himself. We can do anything if God has given us strength – and He has.

Everything we need is found in Christ. Sometimes that seems really spiritual, other times it just seems plain impossible. But it’s true. We need to rely on Him and no one else. Other people fail us, circumstances change, and material things can be taken away. Christ is the only unmovable foundation that we can firmly place our feet on. In Him, we have everything we need, and He desperately wants to share all those things with us. We just need to get our priorities straight. When we start seeking after Him in everything we do, He’ll bless us. Too often we try to go for the blessings first or try to work for them ourselves rather than going to the Source of them. That’s who we need to search for.

Another aspect of this hit me during this morning’s service as well. And before I say it, let me just say that I’m guilty of this ten times over whatever you’re guilty of it, so I point the finger at myself first and foremost. The reason I share all of this with you is so that you too can learn from it and grow closer to Christ through it. I’d hate to find out truth and just keep it to myself. If it can help me, it can help others, and I can’t see any better way to use that truth than to help others through sharing it. I know it’s not me that figures this stuff out – it’s the Holy Spirit revealing truth to me. And I believe that comes the more we study God’s Word. It’s the source of all truth and all knowledge, and then the Holy Spirit comes and reveals its implications to us as we meditate on it. I’ve been finding that out as I’ve started to dig deeper into the Bible.

Anyways, with that said, here’s another little tidbit of truth: God doesn’t want you to do good things for Him. No way; He doesn’t want that at all. He wants you. That’s right. He wants you to seek wholeheartedly after Him and put Him first in your life. Then, once He has you, He can do anything He wants through you. You see, there’s no point in encouraging others or doing fabulous things in the name of God if your heart isn’t in the right place. True, God can use what you do in spite of your heart, but He could just as easily use someone else to do what you’re doing if their heart is in the right place. God’s plan will always be fulfilled no matter what, so you’re either working for it or against it. Of course, if you work against it, you’ll never be successful at doing so, but it’s just so much easier to do what He wants and get it over with. You might actually learn something, too.

But the point is that, while God wants to do great things, He wants to do those great things through you. It’s the reason you’re still alive on this earth. You see, God’s not disappointed if you don’t do what He wants. He can just do it Himself or use someone else who’s willing to do it. No, He’s disappointed when you’re not seeking after Him. He wants to be the centre of your attention, and too often we as Christians are focused on anything other than Him. Of all people, we should be the ones running as hard and fast as we can toward Him. Instead, we’ve got non-Christians searching harder for Him than we are. They’re out there confused and hopeless, and with their last breath of desperation they cry out to God asking Him to just fix their broken life if He’s even out there. And we Christians are sitting on our butts watching TV saying to ourselves, “Well, if God wants it done, He can do it Himself. After all, He’s God. I’m just some puny human down here.” How shameful. It’s despicable, because I see it in myself just as much or even more than other Christians. But I know I’m not the only one doing it.

Why do you think God made humans, anyway? We were made to bring Him pleasure by worshipping Him, and one act of worship is to do things for others. What we do for the least of our brothers, we do for Him. Do you really think we’re down here to do what we want? What would be the point of that? God’s not watching earth like some massive soap opera, wondering who will go out with whom and what’s going to happen to us next. No way. He’s taking an active role in our lives to work out His purposes. I thought of earth once as a giant chessboard. We are all pieces on the chessboard, and God and the devil are waging a war, using us to achieve a master plan. Ultimately, God will win. That’s already been determined. But we can either sit here and disappoint God, or we can get off our rear ends and start putting on the full armour of God to be a willing vessel and be used by Him. God would rather have one willing person, ready to do His will, than a hundred people doing “good things” but not seeking after Him. If you’re ready and willing, He will use you. The problem is that, though we may say we’re willing, we’d much rather be watching Dr. Phil or American Idol. We’re saying, “God, look, I know this whole ‘winning souls’ thing is important to you and all, but The Apprentice is on in fifteen minutes and I have to know what’s going to happen. Can’t your purposes wait until after then?”

Anyways, that’s about all I have to say. If you’re willing, tell God that you are, and then let Him direct your life. He will. If you feel so inclined, go ahead and email me or leave a comment saying that this helped – I would love to hear that it did so, and I’d be glad to help you be a servant of God by keeping you accountable. I’m certainly no better at this than you are, but when we work together to grow closer to God, it’s often so much easier. I’d love to help you out, if you’re willing to help me out at the same time.

God, help me to be a willing servant, always ready to do Your will. Too often I sit around expecting others to do what You’ve wanted me to accomplish, and I want that to end. Help me to live not casually, but purposefully and alert, always looking for a way to serve You and fulfill Your will in my life. You have given me the victory, and I know I can do all things through the strength You’ve given me through Christ. Everything I need is in You, so please help me rely solely on You. I just want to grow in You, since You’ve given me life. I want to reciprocate the love You’ve shown me, so show me how to best do that every moment of every day. Amen.

2 responses to “Living Victoriously”

Jonathan

Jeff, man, I don’t know what to say…your post here just kinda wowed me and challenged me. I’ll talk to ya later. Keep on, man, keep on.

-Jonathan

Jeff

Thanks for visiting. Seems my blog has become quite popular as of late…straaaaange. Anyways, yeah, I found it to be an awesome book, it’s really been challenging me, so I decided to write about the message I found in just one of the chapters. It’s really packed in there. Good stuff. Thanks again for dropping by.

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