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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Boring Christian Life

I know I have written on this subject before but my observations of Christians reveals that most believers live a mundane, boring, uneventful Christian life. Maybe that's why they run from church to church seeking the next great preacher, revelation or experience. They are expecting something outside of themselves to bring meaning to their lives. They believe that God is someone to be chased down rather than allowing Him to enter in. They believe they must be swept into a new experience by the preacher or place.

There are characteristics to this boring life which are not readily recognized.

A boring Christian life is more excited about what it gets from the faith than that there are people who are coming to Christ. They do not know the true excitement of a life changed by Christ. They feel no excitement when watching others being baptized. They may have never known the joy of leading someone to Christ. They have forgotten that joy if they have.

The boring Christian life focuses on itself. It wonders what it is getting out of every event. It wants to know how faith will help endure life's hardships. It seeks faith to give an advantage over others. The boring Christian life believes the believer should benefit over the rest of the world. The boring Christian life has no place for true sacrifice.

The boring Christian life is able to hold grudges. This believer has forgotten the cost of his own sin. He looks as his own sins as mere mistakes while seeing the sins of others as egregious. He believes he has some right to hold these grudges and thus severes his connection of grace to the Lord. Any right assumed as a Christian has to do with pride. God is always opposed to the proud but gives grace to the humble. A graceless Christian life is boring.

The boring Christian life either has no quiet time daily or the boring Christian is simply going through the motions and calling it a time alone with God. God cannot be fooled. He knows where the heart is. He will not meet with those whose hearts are deliberately set against others or Himself.

The boring Christian life fails to worship. The boring Christian may attend worship but does not actually worship even if he sings the songs and bows his head in prayer. Worship happens in the heart or it doesn't happen at all. Worship is giving God worth through the giving of the Christian's life. Worship does not happen when the Christian wants to claim his own self worth.

The boring Christian life never takes a risk. It doesn't tithe when finances are tight, it doesn't go on mission trips, it doesn't witness when ridicule is possible, it doesn't pray when people say the answer is impossible, nor does it do anything that puts it at risk. It doesn't allow God to invade the dreams so that the impossible can be done. It opposes all who want to challenge the impossible with what God has said. It stands in desert afraid of attempting the Promised Land.

So, the boring Christian life lacks true fellowship, heaing what the Bible says, witnessing and prayer. I suppose these are the essentials of living the Christian life. I guess that's why some Christians and churches are said to be dead. They lack the essentials of living.

The Apostle Paul's life was exciting. He witnessed when others would have told him to be quiet. He had allowed God's word to go through him so thoroughly that he connected all of God's word to living. He went places that few people would go with little resources. He trusted in God to provide for him. He knew his Lord so well that he wanted to be fully with Him.

He life was hard but it was never boring. I pray my life will not be boring either.

Philippians 1:21 (ESV) 21 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.


Anthony Chia said...

“They believe that God is someone to be chased down rather than allowing Him to enter in. They believe they must be swept into a new experience by the preacher or place.”

Ps 24 comes into mind. Ps 24:7 & 9 said to let the King of Glory come in. Much of the Old Testament, while it has the “then meaning”, also could be alluding to a matter in the New Covenant time in which we live. Well, the gates then might well be referring to the city gates, for then, it was God inhibiting a physical dwelling like the Tabernacle or the Temple which was being brought into the city or being physically built in the city, like the city of Jerusalem.

This Ps 24 of David could be for the time of David’s moving of the ark to the City of David. Its current application is that God now dwells by His Spirit, the Holy Spirit, in men, and so the “gates”, in those verses can be referring to people, you and I. In ancient of times, wherever God was in a physical place, that place became a place of significance, a place that some exciting thing happened. I am not saying exciting things no longer happen at places, yet while in the past, the excitement happened from “outside in”, for the New Testament believers, it is supposed to happen from “inside out”.

It is interesting that David spoke of the earth and everything in it, including all who dwell in it, belongs to God. It actually means even the non-believers belongs to God. This should wake some people up, and to take notice that it is NOT those who do NOT belong to God, go to Hell! Non-believers belong to God, and the Word said they do go to Hell. Despite God is love, a large portion of Man, would go to Hell, for they are non-believers. Being Man and NOT animal (and plant) [IDENTITY] is significant, but NOT enough to ensure our avoidance of Hell. One really has to give some thought to merely being the sons of God (another identity, just as Man is an identity), can ensure that we have avoided Hell.

One way to interpret and apply Ps 24 in our context is to understand that the earth and everything in it, including all men, belongs to God, and yet NOT all (men) can stand with Him. Verse 3 & 4 posed the questions of: who can ascend His hill i.e. can come up to where He is (v3); and who can stand in His holy place i.e. who can stay in His presence (v4). At the end of our time (our physical life), what are left are those 2 questions, who can come up to Him, and who can stay in His presence? Is it all men? No. Is it the sons of God? It is NOT very clear from that psalm. It spoke NOT of identity as such, like all who were the sons of God, but it spoke of those who have had clean hands and pure hearts, who worshipped NOT, another, but God only, who held NOT, to falsehood, but had lived by the truths of God.

Such will receive blessing from God, and vindication from God his Savior – verse 5. Verse 6 said such is the generation of those who seek God. What is the “such” in this verse 6; it is those who truly seek God are the ones who are with clean hands, pure hearts, worship Him only, and in them are found no falsehood, and such seekers of God, they shall receive blessing from God and vindication from the Lord.

How do we begin to be the “generation” of those who seek Him? The rest of the verses of Ps 24 tells us how; in fact, to stress it, the psalmist, David, repeated the “how” twice – we are to open our heart to admit the King of Glory, Jesus Christ, and He shall come into us, each and every one of us, by His Spirit who is also called the Spirit of Christ or the Holy Spirit or the Spirit of God. When the King of Glory is in us by His Spirit, and when we align ourselves to the need to have clean hands and pure hearts, worshiping God alone and stay only in the truths of God, and practise NOT falsehood, how can our lives be boring?

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Anthony Chia said...

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Our lives cannot be boring unless the King of Glory is boring. From what was recorded of God in the Old and New Testaments, God was NOT and is NOT boring. I submit to you, this Ps 24 gives us a handle – i.e. we are pleasing Him NOT, for we align NOT, ourselves to that which is needed to come and stay in His presence, as explained in verses 3 & 4. At the end of our time, it will be in terms of our going and staying in His presence, but as far as for now, as we live, it is in terms of us being the pleasing dwelling place of the Spirit; is the Spirit pleased to dwell in us, for we are each, the temple of the Holy Spirit? When we are pleasing NOT to dwell in, His work from within us, will NOT feature much, and so, we will lack the “inside out” excitement of the Christian life.

This helps to explain the same set of external circumstances, the same church service, the same sanctuary, the same worship leader, the same songs being sung, the same message being delivered, but some members of congregation are full of exuberance whilst others, nonchalant. Some are full of excitement and expectation coming into each weekend services, while others are lamenting. “It will be and it is boring”. Some can say, “I sense the presence of God, and that He wants to minister”, and take a step of faith and act accordingly, when others, just thought it would be another boring service. The same can be said of other church endeavours - breakout and bless (the community), etc. The ones who cultivate his inner world so that the Spirit is pleased to dwell are the “inside out” people, the true seeker of God, and they are the “movers of God”, and the Christian life is exciting, even before anything is physically seen or heard.

When you are increasingly having clean hands and a pure heart, and worship Him alone, and stay off falsehood, the Spirit of God is pleased to work from within you, and you are increasingly a friend of God, He will share His will and desires with you, and you will desire the things He desires to work through your lives. It may NOT be the same will and desires for everyone, but there are common key desires of God that are shared by all who are friends of God; and we are excited just in the fact that we shares such common will and desires of God. In this sense, we are to be “birds of the same feather (and will flock together)”, yet many are still wondering why others are with “buzz”, they without!

Among the common will and desires shared by believers with the “buzz” included 1) excitement of seeing non-believers coming into the Kingdom. How can you NOT, when Scripture talked about even Heaven rejoices on seeing one coming to Christ Jesus? 2) the decrease of “I” as in “I” of sin, emphasizing self and flesh, and the increase of “O” as in “O” of others and Son or God, emphasizing God and others, therefore, 3) excitement from giving, rather than from receiving; from sacrifice than indulgence; 4) serving God – the Christian life is NOT intended by God as one of merely hearing the Word (which IS His commandments and laws), but hearing and doing (one’s life is boring could be, in part, he is only hearing, but NOT doing), 5) loving God back – how can mutual love be boring? Ah! Maybe you are NOT loving Him back (go think about what it means to love Him back), 6) to grow in likeness of Christ Jesus; maybe you are under the wrong theology that tells you are already perfect – isn’t it boring if you are already perfect; nothing to work on (just bask in grace! Well, too much basking in the sun will get you sun-burnt), and last but NOT least, 7) living a life of forgiving and be forgiven by God – My understanding of the Christian faith is NOT one that says, all you need to do is to accept Jesus Christ as your Savior, and then you can sit back and relax, like you are put in a travelling capsule, waiting for God to beam you to Heaven – if it were so, of course, it is boring, while waiting; am I NOT right?

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Anthony Chia said...

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It is NOT like that; you are still in the world, and NOT necessarily insulated from the troubles of the world (Jesus’ words!); and one aspect of “troubles” is that you get hurt, and you hurt people sometimes – if you are alive (physically!), you get hurt; we all can get hurt; we learn and practise forgiveness, even as we ask for forgiveness, and receive on-going forgiveness, in accordance to 1 John 1:9, which is meant for the believers. Life is boring if you are already forgiven of your future sins (like what the overly grace preachers taught!); you don’t have to walk in the command (of God) to learn to forgive as God forgave you”. If you cannot see it is boring, at least you will agree it sure is lawlessness, since the other guy can do it to you, hurt you, and still be nonchalant about the matter (for, he {too!} was already forgiven by God AT his born-again, for all future sins, including hurting you now! – it is NOT like that). Such teachings, if you believe in them, are holding it out as a fact (although they do NOT specifically said so) that whatever you do, no longer offend God’s holiness (they tell us, they won’t do it {to sin} for they are mindful of the grace of God, the crust of the matter is still they are implying, it does NOT displease God anymore), and that is WRONG. Well, if you still have no idea of how it can be boring, you may want to note that some of the people who are “set for life” do find life boring (despite all the things they have and can do, that many of us, need to double and triple our life span and still cannot afford to have the means to do so).

Philippians 1:21 - For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.

Now, that verse above, does NOT imply that you are living like Christ is living in Heaven. On the contrary, it speaks about us to be living a life like that of Christ had lived while on earth, an exciting life, NOT at all boring; a life with a mission, NOT a life already “set for life”, a life of obedience, NOT deviance, a life of self-control, NOT a life of indulgence, a life of dying to self, and NOT a selfish life, a life of love, of loving God, and loving men, NOT a life of loving only oneself, and a life of willingness to die for the cause of God, and life of “God, please hold it NOT, against them!” What a life! “For to me, to live is Christ”, is to say that the Apostle Paul wanted to see himself being the extension of Christ Jesus’ “great life” on earth. The exhortation is this: We are to be willing to be the extension of Christ Jesus’ life on earth; in other words, be willing to be refined by God to have clean hands and a pure heart (yes, Ps 24), so that God could extend the ministry of Christ Jesus, in and through us – this is the exciting life, and this is the “great life”.

And when you have done your part (hello, the overly grace preachers are WRONG, there is that “our part” {NOT no man’s part}), when it is time to go (die, physically), what is before you is gain. Christ Jesus lived that Great Life, and when He died, He gained (His glory in Heaven); likewise when you have been the extension of that Great Life of Christ Jesus, yours is also gain. Scriptures said that you will share in the glory of Christ Jesus. Scriptures also said that we are to live a life identifying with the death and resurrection of Christ Jesus, and that is an exciting life, and an exciting hope, NOT at all boring. It is NOT finished (forget about what the overly grace preachers tell us, in this regard), if you have just entered into salvation, your exciting life has just began. Jesus finished His (His earthly portion), that you may begin yours!

I end with what Scriptures said of God: God is the knower of heart, and yet He still tests the heart. And it is NOT without reason, He does so. The journey of getting to know Him more and more, is exciting enough for me. There is the mystery, there is the faith and there is God, and that is exciting.