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Saturday, April 11, 2015

We all live "for" something or someone

Who are you living for?  It is a question I think we all need to ask ourselves because we are all "living for" someone - even if it is ourselves.  Maybe we are a little too self-centered for our own good and only see life how it affects us, totally excluding how the world all around us is impacted by the way we live OUR lives.  Or perhaps we are a little to "other-centered", forgetting to take care of ourselves, running like mad-men here and there until we are fatigued to the place of physical, mental, and emotional exhaustion.  Then we may actually be living a "little bit" of this thing referred to as a "Christ-centered" life - the choices we make being governed by the principles taught in the Word and those we feel compelled to act upon because of the prompting of the Holy Spirit within, but lacking complete consistency in this walk.  Somehow we think the question is not how well we are living, but that we are living - missing the point of living in a way which really leaves an impact on the lives we touch.  It is more than "scoring points" or "receiving recognition" which gets us into the history books or the hall of fame that we want to live for in this life - although these may come through the blessings of God in our lives.  It is really looking intently at who it is we live our lives for because this affects how it is we will live them!

If we shared in Jesus' death by being baptized, we will be raised to life with him. We know that the persons we used to be were nailed to the cross with Jesus. This was done, so that our sinful bodies would no longer be the slaves of sin. We know that sin doesn’t have power over dead people. As surely as we died with Christ, we believe we will also live with him. We know that death no longer has any power over Christ. He died and was raised to life, never again to die. When Christ died, he died for sin once and for all. But now he is alive, and he lives only for God. In the same way, you must think of yourselves as dead to the power of sin. But Christ Jesus has given life to you, and you live for God. (Romans 6:5-11 CEV)

The old ways of living move aside when we come to Christ.  Those priorities which seemed to consume us certainly pale in comparison to the excellence of living for Christ.  This "living for" is made possible because of who "lives within". There is nothing more rewarding than to exchange something worthless for something of superior and excellent value.  When I have been at garage sales and come across that one treasure which just catches my eye, I have always delighted in seeing that meager price which will allow me to claim the treasure for pennies on the dollar compared to the original price of the item.  Really, the best we can offer in our lives pales in comparison to the restored lives God provides in exchanged for our tattered, worn, and weary lives.  All sin does within us is wear away at the integrity of our inner man - so all we have to offer in exchange for this excellence God offers is pretty shabby by comparison.

We are raised to life with Christ - not the old life getting a face lift, but a new life being imparted to us within.  Certainly, our old "physical frames" house this new life, but the soul and spirit transformation which occur are all Christ's doing. What we offer in the way of "soul-life" or "spirituality" is really nothing more than us doing things out of self-preservation or to make points with another individual. When we allow the life of Christ to be birthed within us, we are leaving behind this old way of living to live "for" him.  Our lives take on a new focus.  This is where we get the idea of doing an "about-face".  In military speak, this is the action of firmly planting the right foot slightly behind the left, then executing a full 180-degree turn so that we are facing the complete opposite direction.  This is where we find a new focus - not in remaining turned toward the old, but in turning our backs on it!

What we don't see is what is behind.  We don't consider it because it is no longer in our focus.  What we keep (maintain) in our focus will eventually consume us.  This is why scripture refers to us keeping our eyes on Jesus - the author and finisher of our faith.  He is the one who brings us into this new way of living and he is the one who will take us from living a "little bit" of this Christian life to living an all-out surrendered life no longer intrigued by the old life we were living.  When the soldier executes the "about face" maneuver, he or she is also told to keep their gaze straight ahead.  They are not to be looking to the left or right - but straight ahead.  As much as may attempt to distract us, when our focus is committed straight ahead, those distractions just don't work!

We "live for" many things - but only one choice really matters.  We surrender to a lot of things - but only one surrender brings liberty.  We focus on a whole lot of different things in this life - but only one focus actually shuts out all the other things which distract us.  If we want to "live for" anything or anyone other than Christ, we need to ask God to clarify our choices in this matter.  We might feel that the price we have to pay to follow Jesus is a little too steep - but thinking of it in the terms of "pennies on the dollar" as in my garage sale find, you are really paying very little to get such a great reward.  Just sayin!