Summary: This is the first in a series of sermons looking at developing a deeper walk with Christ. It addresses the issue of shallow Christianity and what a deeper life really looks like.
Going Deeper Pt 1
Of all the things that I became convinced of during my time away perhaps the most important is that God is calling me and us to a deeper walk with Him. We live in a time that is marked with shallow Christianity. The world around us screams at us that it’s true. The Church of today faces for the first time in American History a culture that sees us as totally irrelevant to daily life. For a Church that is called to be Salt and Light I think the culture around us is all the evidence we need. Shallow, entertainment driven, self-centered religion is the hallmark of much of today’s church and too often that includes me and us. So over the next couple of weeks I want to talk with you about deepening our walk with Christ.
It occurred to me as I began writing this week that this concept of a deeper walk with Christ is so alien to today’s world that I needed to spend some time just identifying what this life looks like. We have become so comfortable with what we know that often even the picture of something better is missing. So what does a deeper life look like? Some would say it’s more emotional: I don’t think so, God is not an emotion. For some few people I think emotion is actually a sign of a shallow faith - deep waters run still. Others would say it looks more intellectual: but again I don’t think so - you don’t have to be a scholar to go deep with God. Heavens most of the early church was relatively uneducated. Still others would say it’s in lifestyle: that we can make a list of behaviors (do’s and don’ts) that mark the deeper life. I don’t think so - you see the deeper life stems from the heart not a set of rules. God speaks to Samuel and says “for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” In studying the lives of people who have gone deeper we find characteristics that I believe come to at least provide the framework for the deeper life that I am talking about.
1) Surrender (Romans 12:1) - The apostle Paul puts it this way, “present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.” Brother Lawrence of the Resurrection a 17th century monk wrote this of His struggle with surrender. “What I wanted was simply to belong totally to God, so I decided to give everything I could give in order to attain the greatest blessing in return - knowing Him.” The idea of surrender is the struggle for control. As human beings we live with an innate desire to control our destiny and our surroundings. From the earliest moments of life we struggle for control of our world - first with parents, then with employers, and too often always with God. Make no mistake about it this idea of who is in control of your life is the most critical decision of your life. As long as you believe that you are in control and you are calling the shots - you will be in conflict with God. It’s only when we surrender the Lordship of life (control of life) to Christ that we begin to understand what real freedom is. It’s there that we find what we are made for and we begin to live the deeper life. Until God is Lord of your life, you will always play in the shallow waters of self-centered desire and never find the fullness of experiencing the depths of Gods presence.
2) Christ Centered Life - Col 1:16-18 - I am convinced that the problems we face in the church today, the lack of relevance we have in our communities today, and the personal lack of spiritual power we see today all stem from the same basic problem. Christ is not the center of our lives. Paul describes a world, a church and a heart that is centered on God. Like the planets that circle the Sun our lives must find Christ as the center. We try so hard to make God revolve around us. We live even our Christian lives trying to make God fit into the mold that we have made for Him. There is something comforting about Christianity that makes us want to keep it around. It makes us feel safe, it feeds our positive emotions, but we don’t want to give up our toys.
William Law writes “if you will here stop and ask yourself why you are not as pious as the primitive Christians were, your own heart will tell you that is is neither through ignorance nor inability, but purely because you never thoroughly intended it.” In other words we are not deeper spiritually because in truth we don’t really want to be. It sounds nice but in practice our hearts are simply unwilling to give up their toys to set Christ on the throne of life.