Summary: A second step, as we begin to live our lives on loan, is to reexamine our values. Are the values that determine how we live our lives in line with the teachings of Jesus?
It was rush hour. The woman was late for an important appointment. She cursed the drivers around her as she weaved in and out of lanes. When a car wedged in front of her, she laid on the horn and flipped the offending driver off. She shook her fist at the driver moments later when she was able to zoom past him. She was pleased with herself when she had just made it into the intersection before the light turned red—that is until the red and blue lights of a squad car lit up her rear view mirror.
Once she had pulled over, the police officer walked up to her car, told her to get out, and without another word he handcuffed her, dropped her into the backseat of his cruiser and took her to the police station. There she was placed in a holding cell pending charges.
Two hours later, a rather chagrined police officer opened the cell door and said that she was free to go. He apologized to her saying, “I saw how you were driving and how rude you were to other drivers. I also saw the “I Love, Jesus,” “Jesus, Is My Co-Pilot,” and “Honk If You Love Jesus,” bumper stickers on your car. I thought that the car was obviously stolen.”
Probably the greatest challenge for Christians is not believing that Jesus Christ die for our sins and rose from the dead, by rather integrating what we believe into our daily lives.
Today, as we study these passages and the book, Living a Life on Loan, to reexamine our values and see how they affect our daily lives of faith.
We know that we are people who have been created by God, loved by God, forgiven by God, and called by God. God has moved in a powerful way in our lives. So now we must ask ourselves how we respond to that great love. In to what shape does God’s love transform our lives? What values and priorities now determine the words and deeds of our daily lives?
We have read that in the early church the Christians devoted themselves to study, fellowship, worship and prayer. These spiritual disciplines have been important in the lives of countless Christians as they have sought to live out their faith.
In today’s church they have often been marks of being a good Christian. Church attendance, participation in a Bible Study, pledging financial support, and integrating personal devotions into our lives have become a type of score care for the depth of our Christian faith and discipleship. We’re like the Pharisee who bragged about his religious activities and how that made him better than those around him.
As important as these activities are, they were never meant to be an end in and of themselves. They were originally understood to be means to an end. Spiritual disciplines are tools that the Spirit uses to strengthen and equip us for mission and ministry.
Christians have also placed a great value on righteous living, or our pursuit of perfection. Weak Christians are viewed as people who do not follow the Ten Commandments, or who do not speak in acceptable ways.
Christians have been so focused on not sinning that they have become almost paralyzed. The idea being that it is better not to do anything, than to do something and risk breaking some rule.
The situation is similar to parents leaving their teenage son or daughter home alone for the first time. The list of “don’ts” that they give their child is seemingly endless. Usually the only acceptable activity for the youth is the watch the Disney channel on TV. Or, it is like my golf game. If I think about my golf swing hard enough, I become totally incapable to hitting the ball. I always have to keep my mind on the broader game of golf in order to enjoy the game and to turn in somewhat of a decent score.
Certainly righteousness is an important part of our relationship with God. If it becomes the goal of our lives, though, then righteousness quickly deteriorates into self-righteousness.
The three passages of Scripture stress that God’s priorities and values center on love. If God’s values are to be a part of our lives, than we too must focus on love. John reminds us that a God loves us and God’s love enables us to love others. Isaiah talks about how good people are generous people. Generosity is a hallmark of the Christian life. And the gospel story of Jesus, the Pharisee and the sinful woman stresses that love begets love and God’s extravagant loves is intended to empower us to love extravagantly.
Our piety is meant to mold us and shape us so that we can love as God loves. Our righteous lives are undergirded by love. The top priority is love.