Summary: Pastor Dave asks the questions, “How does the way the average Christ-follower manages his/her life differ from that of the average non-Christ-follower? Or is there a difference?” It comes down to whether or not we really believe that God changes lives.
Hanging Around for the Miracle
Life Management 101, part 4
Wildwind Community Church
David K. Flowers
July 9, 2006
Our current series is Life Management 101. We’re coming out a hectic time of year – the close of the school year – into another equally hectic time – summer, with its vacations and open houses and road trips and opportunities to mow lawns and pull weeds and plant gardens and tire ourselves out in at least as many ways as we do during the school year. How are we to manage our lives? An even better question is what does it mean for us to manage our lives as Christ-followers? I mean, everybody figures out some way to manage life, whether it really works for them or not, right? But for those of us who claim to be Christ-followers (and I know that’s not all of us here), what does it mean for us to manage our lives? What should the differences be between the way Christ-followers manage life and the way non-Christ-followers manage life?
I think the way Christians manage our lives is often not very different from the way non-Christians manage their lives, because we don’t really understand that the source of the Christian life is God. Some of us dedicate our lives to serving God, but then get upset when God isn’t working on our timetable and doing things our way. We’re still living out of our own center, so to speak. But the source of the Christian life is God.
Psalm chapter 19, verses 7 and 8.
7 The law of the LORD is perfect,
reviving the soul.
The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy,
making wise the simple.
8 The precepts of the LORD are right,
giving joy to the heart.
The commands of the LORD are radiant,
giving light to the eyes.
The source of the Christian life is God.
Even after we become Christians, we still often do not live by this truth. We have heard the source of the Christian life is God, and we know that we are supposed to encounter God in prayer and in God’s Word, but it’s extremely easy for us to neglect them. Why? Maybe it comes from living in a country where you can call yourself whatever you want and don’t really have to show any evidence that what you claim is true – where faith labels are used like ethnic labels – not to say anything substantive about individuals, but to tell groups apart from one another. On the news the other day I heard a reporter talking about how Saddam Hussein’s government was not an Islamic regime, it was secular. How, in fact, Saddam’s foreign minister Terrik Azziz was not Islamic at all, but rather a Christian. And I remember thinking, “Are you kidding me? Can the word Christian really be applied to both Mother Theresa and Terrik Azziz without the word itself completely losing meaning?”
That is the world we live in and the culture in which “Christians” find themselves. So to be a “Christian” all you have to do is say you’re a Christian. I’m pretty sure that’s all Terrik Azziz did as he spent his life as the lying mouthpiece of a murderous dictator. Now at this point two things are equally clear. The first is that none of us here is a Terrik Azziz. The second is that none of us here is a Mother Theresa! I have intentionally brought out two extremes to ask you this question: which of those two extremes, which of those two people who claim to be Christian would you be inclined to believe actually lived out the truth that God is the source of the Christian life?
Most people who become Christians hear in church that God is the source of life and they get abstract about it. They think the preacher is speaking metaphorically. They go, “Isn’t that cute – the preacher is saying that to be a Christian one has to live AS IF God is the source of life.” So they do. They live their lives AS IF. They figure out what Christians do who are living as if God is the source of life. Going to church, avoiding certain places and substances, maybe joining a small group, maybe even speaking about all the change God has brought into their lives. And so it is that with a perfectly clean conscience, so many American Christians can call themselves Christian and yet have practically no prayer life, practically no part in reading God’s Word and applying it to their lives. We figure what the heck? I’m no Terrik Azziz – I understand things that guy definitely didn’t understand. Maybe so. But what did Mother Theresa understand that so many of us don’t? That God – not just church, not just small group, not just preaching, but God as revealed to us personally in His Word and through prayer – God is the source of life. It simply doesn’t dawn on most of us that to really believe that God is the source of life requires a lifestyle shaped by prayer and the Word of God. It just does.