One of my favorite Christian authors is Calvin Miller. I’ve recently been reading his excellent little book entitled, “The Disciplined Life”. One of the things he said that really struck me was, “The difference between what God wants for us and what we ultimately become rests in how we break the thrall of those appetites that chain us to selfish lifestyles and selfish life goals.” My studies this past year have convinced me that selfishness is at the heart of all sin. Perhaps this is not a revelation to you and might even seem rather obvious. But how often do we look at our lives and consider ourselves selfish? Until we come to that realization, I submit we are all living in delusion.
Archives for September 2013
For roughly three short years two thousand years ago, we got a brief glimpse of what the Kingdom of God looks like. When Jesus lived among us, He healed all those who were sick. He partied with the outcasts of the culture and chastised the societal elite. He was at once revolutionary and peaceful. Jesus knew no strangers and loved unconditionally. No wonder such large crowds followed Him; who wouldn’t want the slightest glimpse of Heaven? Who wouldn’t want to experience what life was truly meant to be? Jesus showed us what a life lived for Him, a Kingdom life, was all about. He set the example that all His disciples commit to follow.
Saeed Abedini is a pastor who was falsely accused and arrested over a year ago in Iran. Much has been written about his arrest and subsequent imprisonment. My goal here is not to retell this tragic tale, but rather highlight the amazing way God is using him despite his difficult circumstances. While incarcerated in Iran’s most brutal prison, even in the midst of enduring regular torture, Saeed has led over thirty people to Christ within those prison walls. While it would be inconsistent with the character of God to say that it is God’s will for Saeed to be suffering in prison, it’s important to recognize that Saeed continues to do God’s will even when the forces of evil are doing all they can to thwart the advancement of the Kingdom.
In his book, “The Disciplined Life”, author Calvin Miller says that most people view Christianity as a giant brake pedal whereas in reality it should be seen as a steering wheel. I love the analogy. So many people, including far too many Christians, think the way to follow Christ is to stop doing various activities. Traditionally the church has spoken out against things like smoking, drinking, dancing, movies, rock music, certain dress and hair styles, tattoos, and on and on. If we only stop or avoid doing certain things, we will be more Godly; or so goes the prevailing wisdom.
As followers of Christ, there are a couple of things we all believe. We believe He lived, died, and rose again. We also believe He will return one day to redeem His followers. If you aren’t a believer, some of that can seem hard to swallow. But for those of us who have dedicated our lives to Jesus, these are the basic truths that are as comfortable as breathing to us. Perhaps that’s the problem. As breathing requires no conscious thought, neither does the life that so many of us claim to be living for Christ. We believe the right things, talk in the approved manner, and even attend the obligatory meetings. As living a Christian life has become second nature, we risk eternal salvation not only for ourselves but for everyone who has not yet come to Jesus (Matthew 7:21-23).