Is Your Light Shining?
Bogged down…in a rut…too consumed with the cares of the world to care about a relationship with Jesus. Have you ever been in that place? Let me just be honest, I have! Sometimes as a Christian, I want to think I am walking around and doing everything just right. I am keeping all of the Biblical rules and I am saying my prayers (well at least my blessing before I eat my meals). I should be good then, right? Well…not really. When my life has gotten to the place where I am going through the motions, my light is probably not shining too brightly.
Are You Living By The Law Or By Grace?
Why did Jesus object so greatly to the Pharisees? They were Godly people. They kept all the rules. I am sure they said their blessing before they ate their kosher meals. So, what did Jesus see in them that upset Him? The Pharisees lived by the Levitical law, but they did not understand the grace of God. This is partially because Jesus had not yet died on the cross to become the sacrifice for the world’s sin, but also because they were blinded and did not want to recognize Jesus as God’s Son. They liked being in control and being the keeper of the law. I have heard it said that truth without grace is harsh and grace without truth is sin. As modern day Christians, we understand the difference of law versus grace and forgiveness. I am thankful that because of Jesus, we do not have to live by a list of rules and make animal sacrifices when we sin. All we have to do is ask the Lord to forgive us and all is forgiven. So when I become bogged down and find myself going through the motions, Jesus is waiting patiently for me to recognize my sin and sincerely ask Him to forgive me.
A Transformed Heart
So let me ask you a question. Since God gives us grace and forgives us when we sin, do you think living the Christian life gives us a free pass to sin? When we humble ourselves before a living God, who loves us more than we deserve, something takes place within us. Our sins are forgiven and we feel clean…on the inside. Our hearts are transformed and we live life with a new focus. Instead of sin being a deliberate act that we enjoy, we long to live a life that is pleasing to God. We become consciously aware that sin stifles our relationship with the lord and we humbly ask Him to forgive us in our weakness.
What is new life? Nicodemus asked this question to Jesus (John 3:9) He did not understand the concept of being born again. Jesus explained to him that the rebirth He was referring to was not physical, but spiritual (John 3:5-9). New life is what happens through a heart change. When we surrender our life to Jesus, He comes into our hearts and lives. Through His Holy Spirit, we become new creations, influenced by His love.
Living Inside Out
So, what does that new life look like when applied to a life that was totally influenced by sin and worldly living prior to salvation? Does it mean that we never sin again? On the contrary! We are human beings. Our very nature is sinful. This happened when Adam and Eve sinned in the garden. It took many years of constant failure as a human race before God sent His Son to earth to die so that our sins could be forgiven without going through the rituals of the law. In taking God at His word, He knew before He created us that all of this would happen and He loved us anyway. He knows that our nature will cause us to sin and fall short of His ways, but it does not mean that we should shrug our shoulders and sin for the fun of it. As followers of Jesus, we are called to live life with our eyes on Him and our hearts full of His word. We depend on the Holy Spirit to guide us and help us. And when life overwhelms us and we fail, Jesus waits for us to recognize that all we really need is Him. We pray…He forgives. We learn from our failure…He loves and guides us as we walk out our Christian lives. When Jesus comes into our hearts and changes our lives, we no longer focus on the sin. We focus on Him. Our life looks different and other people notice that something is not the same about us. The beauty within reflects in the way we carry ourselves in our daily routines. The sinful nature is still there, but it no longer rules us. Jesus is reflected through our actions and our focus becomes more like living inside out instead of living outside in. And, this is where lives are influenced and God uses us to fulfill our calling by drawing others to Him.
How has the Lord changed you? What has He called you to do to influence others? Please share your Christian experience with us!