Summary: By in large, many Christians go about living their lives just as they did before the believed in Christ. The result has been a disconnect between what we profess and how we live. That has impacted our greatest witness, our lives. Yet God calls us to so mu
This is our third week in looking at the misson statement that God has revealed to the Vision Team, “Connecting diverse communities to a lifestyle devoted to Jesus.” The first week we looked at the word “connecting” and learned that from the very beginning of Jesus’ evangelistic ministry, Jesus was about connecting to others. We also learned that faith in Jesus means a connecting lifestyle. We connect to Jesus and then we are to connect others to Jesus. When you become a follower of Jesus, you cannot help but find and connect others to Jesus so that they might experience what you have in Jesus. The second week we looked at “diverse communities” and learned the early church came to understand that God loves the Gentiles just like the Jews. In fact, God wants all people to believe and be saved, not just a select few. This was revolutionary in the eyes of the early church and not only changed the way the early Jewish Christians had thought but how they lived and to whom they ministered. Now it’s one thing to have an inclusive God but quite another to be an inclusive church and have an inclusive ministry and worship experience. That’s the heart of God’s vision for us. New Orleans has always been diverse but few churches have been inclusive. Katrina has provided us a new opportunity to connect to and minister to the diverse population who have moved onto the WestBank.
Today, we are looking at the next word in our mission statement: lifestyle. What do you think of when you think of the word lifestyle? Let’s break it down for just a moment. Life. Life is a good thing. We all like to cling to life. We want to live life to the fullest. From the Christian perspective, life is a gift of God and we called to live that life for God. In fact, your entire life is meant to be your worship of God. Romans 12:1 says, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God-- this is your spiritual act of worship.” Style. We all want style. If you have style, it means you’re happening. You’re hip. You’re cool. Everyone sees you as someone who ‘has it all together’. “Hey, I’d like to be like him....he’s got styyyyyle.” So combine these two words into one, and you’ve got a “way of life that is typical of a person, group, or culture.” Now there’s all kinds of lifestyles: the yat lifestyle, the WestBank lifestyle, the country club lifestyle, the cool daddy lifestyle, the hip hop lifestyle, the gangsta lifestyle, the Uptown lifestyle, the bohemian lifestyle, the artist lifestyle, and the list could go on and on. Your lifestyle not only defines who you are, with whom you identify but also what you value and believe in.
What’s interesting is that when you mention the word lifestyle, most don’t think about the Christian life. Why is that? A lot of people may change what they believe when they come to faith in Jesus, but they never really change their lifestyle, that is, who they are, how they live and what they do. In fact, George Barna has found in his research that the unchurched see no difference between the lives we lead as Christians and their own life. It seems that somewhere along the way, we have simplified this Jesus thing to what you believe and not about who you are in Christ or how you live for Christ. The problem is that most people don’t want to give up their lifestyle. On Palm Sunday, 2007, Evil Knievel announced to a worldwide audience on Robert Schuller’s "Hour of Power" telecast that he ’believed in Jesus Christ’ for the first time. Knievel told how he had refused for 68 years to accept Jesus Christ as his Savior because he didn’t want to surrender his lifestyle of ’the gold, the gambling, the booze and the women.’ Many people today struggle with giving up their lifestyle when they accept Jesus..
By in large, many Christians go about living their lives just as they did before the believed in Christ. The result has been a disconnect between what we profess and how we live. That has impacted our greatest witness, our lives. Mahatma Gandhi is one of the most respected leaders of modern history. A Hindu, Gandhi nevertheless publicly admired Jesus and often quoted from the Sermon on the Mount. When missionary E. Stanley Jones met with Gandhi he asked, "Though you quote the words of Christ often, why is that you appear to so adamantly reject becoming his follower?" Gandhi replied, "Oh, I don’t reject your Christ. I love your Christ. It’s just that so many of you Christians are so unlike your Christ." Brennan Manning put it this way: “The greatest single cause of atheism in the world today is Christians who acknowledge Jesus with their lips and walk out the door and deny him by their lifestyle. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable.”