So what does it look like if you are living your Christianity out loud? If you are in fact living that way then other folks know that you are a follower of Jesus Christ. What does the world see in you that tells them that you are a follower of Jesus Christ? Paul, in his letter to the church at Galatia, wrote “I am crucified with Christ” (Galatians 2:20). That single picture, a life absorbed and covered with the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, is the foundation, the bedrock of living your Christianity out loud. It seems at once complex and yet it is so simple. It is not about what we do but rather what Christ does within us. What He does within us is, after all is said and done, what shows on the outside. There is no fanfare. There are no announcements or pictures in the local newspaper proclaiming our status as a follower of Jesus Christ. Christian character, according to Paul, is the result of the indwelling Holy Spirit, not by anything that we do or produce. Be very careful that your concentration is on that one thing: It is not about what you do. It is about what the Holy Spirit does through you. Take a few minutes and read the first five verses of the gospel of John as Jesus explains our position in living our faith out loud. These verses are indeed the root of living your faith out loud. Your life as a Christian is not about you.
I fear that there is a built in complacency that comes with our claim of availability. I fear that we may find an excuse to say to the Lord that we cannot do “that thing” that we have been led to do and we hang it on some limitation, real or not. That’s okay, at least we were available. Wrong. The call is not that we are to be available for only certain things at certain times and we are free to use our limitations as filters for what we are willing or able to do.
Am I serving God with a reserve? That’s a fair question for any of us. Have we said to God that we will do anything or go anywhere for Him and yet, in the test, are there things that we will not do and places that we will excuse ourselves from going? Have we ever been guilty of declining an opportunity to spread the free gift of Jesus Christ? How will a stranger know that you are a child of God if it is not obvious in your behaviors? Consider the words of Paul as he addressed the church at Corinth with this phrase: “I will very gladly spend for you everything that I have and expend myself as well” (2 Corinthians: 12: 15 NIV). Can I truthfully say that? That is what it takes to follow the Lord. It is important that when we believe that we are doing something for the Lord or to honor Him, we examine what our motivation really is. It is ours to disappear in the life of Jesus Christ.
Living a Christian life in that manner that can redefine the phrase, “all in.” Are you “all in” or just along for the ride? _dg
Listen. A spiritual darkness, a time when we do not see God at work in our lives, is a time for acute listening skills. It may well be that during this darkness is a time for you to be actively listening for God. We have all heard about active listening skills somewhere in a language class long ago. Think about listening to the speaker, of making and maintaining eye contact, of making yourself active or animated in your own speech. Respond to the gestures and tone of the speakers’ voice; be involved in the conversation. How often do we find ourselves in darkness and assume that we are the only one there? God is there – Listen even when you do not hear anything. Listen for that still, small voice.
Take care of the personal things of your relationship with the Lord and stay close by. Continuously pour out your own soul and spirit on the altar of prayer and listen. Read the scriptures and find God’s voice in them. Lights often come on as a direct result of our making sure that our switch is in the right position. _dg
“Speak to us yourself and we will listen. But do not have God speak to us or we will die” (Ex. 20:19, NIV). So who do you listen to? It is likely that we do not intentionally disobey God, rather we simply do not listen to Him. God implies “If you love me you will keep my commandments” (Ex. 20:6). His commandments are there in the bible. Are you keeping them or are just counting on the pastor or the Sunday school teacher to tell you what you need to know, what you ought to do next. That is not a complex question but I beg you to consider your answer carefully. Who are you listening to? Be careful that you are not listening to a teacher’s embellishments of the scripture when the real words are quite clearly expressing the Lord’s message and the teacher is perhaps adding or subtracting their own interpretation to what has already been clearly said. The results of that can impact your eternity.
Why would we be afraid to have God speak to us directly, choosing rather to have a teacher or pastor speak to us? A cause for that could be simply that if God speaks to us, it is imperative that we do what God tells us to do. To do less is a blatant act of disobedience. If the pastor or teacher speaks to us it seems less final, it gives us a bit of wiggle room. They are, after all, just human and they just do not have the final authority and say. We assume that we can disobey them without disobeying God. Who are we listening to in our life of Christianity? Are we ready to have the Almighty God speak to us directly? If we are, there are no more negotiations or scheduling when and how we respond. I dare you to answer that truthfully. Much may hang in the balance of the answer. _dg
My little sister and I talk for hours about that word “available.” Webster says “present or ready for immediate use, accessible, qualified or willing to do something or to assume a responsibility.” Ouch. Ready, accessible, qualified and willing to assume a responsibility. That’s quite a mouthful or list of chores when God is in the loop. I can always fail to be at least one of those four things at any given moment. The wonderful thing is that if I am living my own Christianity out loud, all four of those things are present by default. If my day-to-day life is testament to my salvation and evidence of God’s grace then “available” is the default condition. By the same measurement, if one of those things are missing there is an issue that needs to be resolved by prayer. That sounds hard but it strikes me as true.