Don't Live for God! Chapter 6 continued.

So, before I get on to Hold My Heart, I noticed that a lot of people
commented on this one phrase from Chapter 6, so I thought we would do well
to look at it a bit further. And let me just say, thank you.
To everyone.
Thank you so much for your comments,
and for taking time to read my ramblings.
This has been so encouraging,
and I am so blessed by everyone’s enthusiasm thus far.
May we all believe the gospel more and more.
Here’s Chapter 6 continued…

Could you imagine what that would look like?
A bunch of people that no longer live for God but because of God?
I mean, think about how terribly liberating that is!
You don’t have to earn a thing.
You don’t have to perform for anyone.
You don’t even have to go and win souls for God.
You just need to know that you’re already accepted,
and live like you actually believe it.

Think about it.
A people that praise Him because of who He is.
Doing things because of what He has done.
A church that loves, and forgives, because He first loved them.

Oh how beautiful that would be.

Like my pastor frequently says,
“Don’t show me a church that loves God, show me a church that believes
they’re loved, and I’ll show you a church that God is using.”

But sadly, most of miss this one crucial point.
We go to church and we hear how we need to change the world,
how we need to be better Christians, and how we need to make our lives
count, and have maximum impact and how we need to live with purpose, blah blah blah….
And we buy into it.  We live harder.  We make promises to ourselves.
We memorize the formulas and purpose in our hearts to do better.
But for what reason?
To be honest, it makes me sad to think about,
how many people have been led astray
by the self-help methods and strategies of man.
How many people still don’t believe they’re loved because
they just can’t seem to live up to the spiritual bar they’ve erected for themselves!
How rarely do we stop ourselves long enough to ask the most important question?
For what purpose am I living for God?
To be accepted or because I already am?

Friends.  This one question will make all the difference.

If it’s for God and not because of God, two things happen.
We will either live up to all our trying,
and consequently feel really great about ourselves
and look down on everyone who can’t live like us,
or we fall short of our resolutions and instantly begin to sulk about how we’ll
never be who God wants us to be!
And so it goes.  A vicious cycle of swaggering and sniveling.
We’re up when we succeed, and we’re down when we fail.
Up.  Down. Up.  Down.  On and on and on we go.
Caught up in the halls of introspection, not realizing that the gospel doesn’t
make us better people, it just makes us forget about ourselves!

Kind of like Rocky though, you know?
You ever scene that movie?
Remember when He slurs to Mickey,
“if I just go the distance, then I’ll know I’m not a bum!”
For Him, He had to go the distance.
That’s what it would take to validate Him. To give him worth!
What is it for you?
What are you trying to prove?
What do you need to accomplish in your life that will finally make you feel
like you’re not a bum?

Here’s the deal.
Romans 12 warns us that there’s a problem with living like that.
It says, “therefore, in view of God’s mercy, present your bodies as
a living sacrifice to God.”
Did you notice the first phrase?
“Therefore, in view of God’s mercy,”
And you know what that’s saying?
It’s saying, before you start trying to live for God, you need to really understand
what’s He done for you.  You need to understand that you are a bum!
You are a complete and total failure but BECAUSE of chapters 1-11,
because of all that Christ has done, in view of his mercy,
in response to his audacious sacrificing love,
you need to go and live like you believe it.

In other words, our doing is a response to what He has already done.

Just look at how lopsided Romans is!
Paul takes 11 chapters to talk about what Christ did on the cross,
and only 5 to talk about our response to it.
And still, I’ll hear a well-intentioned youth pastor get up and preach on this verse,
telling his kids to go and be a living sacrifice, and live for God, and be
the change, etc, etc, etc, and not once will he even mention the cross
and what Christ has done!!!!
And if you do that, I’m sorry youth pastor man, but you totally miss the point.
And furthermore, you actually make people more wicked!
Yeah, that’s right!  You become more wicked when you live for God
and not because God.  That’s what the Bible calls “Pharisees.”
You do all the right things but for all the wrong reasons.
And all the while, feeling more and more justified for being your own Saviour.

Because the only way we can possibly live for God
is if we are living because of God.
And what I mean is, that’s the only way our motivations are purified.
If we’re not living in view of God and in response to Him,
then chances are, we’re just living for the praises of man, for the validation of our performance,
and for the pride of obedience.

Ok Mike.  What on earth is the pride of obedience?
Here’s a simple real-life example.
You’re driving through the drive-thru at your local fast food dining establishment.
Wendy’s.  Starbucks perhaps?
And after a strange, disjointed conversation with the broken voice over the speaker,
you drive up to the window, hoping that they actually got your order right,
and then you’re greeted by a not so friendly, refreshment attendant,
who gives you the wrong change, the wrong order and seems completely
annoyed that you would have the audacity to bring that to their attention.
So with a surly look and a snatch of the bag, they yell for a change of order over
their shoulder and then slam their little drive thru window thingy closed,
leaving you in your car with a unnecessary guilty conscience and a
brief moment to assess the situation.
And so at this point you lean over to the person next to you, and say,
“Goodness.  Can you believe the attitude with these people? I mean,
I would never act like that.  Totally unprofessional.”
And at just that moment, the little double glass doors swing open,
and said disgruntled employee emerges from his grease cave,
looking at you with that same disheveled expression,
and then with a monotone mumble says,
“Here’s your order. Sorry about that.”
To which you cheerily respond, “Oh, no problem. Thank you so much.”
And off you go.
All the while, feeling really good about yourself, because you were so nice with your
response, and you didn’t even reach out through your window and strangle them to death.

Now, some of you might be thinking, “yeah, what’s wrong with that?”
A business is a business right?  People need to do their job.
Well, I would agree with you, but that’s not the issue.
The issue is the underlying sense of pride under statements like,
“Can you believe the attitude?” or “I would never…”
You see, both of those sentiments carry with them an undercurrent of condescending
self-esteem that looks down on the individual who doesn’t obey like they do.
I call it, the pride of obedience.  And it comes from older brother types who
expect everyone to pull themselves up by their bootstraps and live the way they’re
supposed to.  It comes from people who are living for God, and not because of Him.

However, if you rewind that tape and play it back
with someone living because God,
I think you’d get a much different response.
First of all, the because God person is not
surprised when a person who’s never experienced the love of Christ acts like it.
They wouldn’t exclaim, “Can you believe the attitude?” because quite frankly,
yes.  They can believe it.  If they’ve never known Christ
then what else should they expect?
And they certainly wouldn’t say, “I would never act like that.”
Because they know, that without Christ, they would.
Maybe not right to someone’s face, but definitely in their heart.
And thirdly, they might actually take time to see the person behind the Wendy’s
uniform, and ask, “Man, I wonder if they’ve ever tasted the love of Christ.
I wonder why they’re so disagreeable?”

Pride is a sure fire sign that you’re not living because God.
People who live because God, are marked by an overwhelming generosity and
a propensity for mercy.  They are so aware of they’re need
and what they’ve been given,
that they gladly treat people better than they deserve.
And isn’t that the question for us today.  For me?
Do I treat people better than they deserve?
Or have I lost sight of how God treats me?
Remember, our obedience must be fueled and driven
by awed and grateful love or else it doesn’t mean a thing.
(See 1 Corinthians 13)
Do not live your life for God.
Live your life Because God.

“Therefore, in view of God’s mercy…”