Live Like You Mean It

 

State of WI

State of WI

The state in which I live has put forth a new motto for tourism, which you see written in the title of this post. Rather than debate the indefensible basis for this motto – which has little to do with the outdoors, vacationing, lakes, or any other actual tourist activity in the state of Wisconsin – I thought we could look at this motto as it applies to the Christian life.

On the face of it, the motto is catchy, if a bit misplaced. In a state renowned for the drinking problems of its inhabitants, perhaps it is a dangerous thing to ask us to “mean it”, rather than continue just “doing it”.

What would our lives look like if we followed this motto? Is there a base in Scripture for the idea that Christians should live this way? Let’s investigate.

First, excellence in every one of our endeavors. We know – as Christians – that we should be dedicated to quality and improvement in every area of our lives. In Colossians 3:23 we read, “And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men”. This makes it clear that we do things “heartily” because we are doing it ‘for the Lord’, or, written another way, we do everything for His glory.

The word translated “heartily” here is ‘psyche’, meaning your inner self, with your whole being, mind, heart and soul. This obviates the possibility that we can do anything “half-hearted” as Christians; we do all things to His glory, with all of who we are. Note that this leaves a massive expanse of glorious difference in our approach, as each thing is done with our inner being, and we are all very different… and God intended this.

Stop for a moment and think about the import of the previous paragraph. Each thing that you do, is done to the glory of God. Just like every action you take in the presence of your children ‘trains them’, every action you take in front of God (hint: all actions) is to His glory. Either you are doing a good job of glorifying Him, or you are not. Do you think that we have this in the back of our mind all day, every day? What might our lives look like if we did? If we lived this intentionally, do you think that we might have to talk about God less because others might see Him in us a little more?

“In all things, preach Christ; and if necessary, use words” – St. Francis of Assisi

Second, the abundant life. Christ said, in John 10:10, “..I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly”. Many pastors – TV evangelists especially – are espousing the idea that Christ is referring to temporal wealth or physical happiness here on this earth. Since the tale of the rich young ruler, most of the book of James (or John 15), and the life of King David make it clear that A) riches can be a hindrance to people in a walk of faith, B) that we will certainly see trials in this life, and C) that ‘men of God’ get discouraged and can become profoundly unhappy. So, what then did Christ mean by the word, “abundant”?

The word translated as “abundant” here is the Greek word ‘perissos’ which translates elsewhere as “excellent”, “in abundance”, “excess”. It is the word used to mean, “We took until we could take no more, and we have yet more”. In surrounding verses we see that Christ is speaking about sheep, and their shepherd. Some historical context is also helpful here. At night, shepherds would herd several flocks into a rock-walled enclosure, and they – the shepherds – would lay and sleep in the opening through which the sheep came. They were – quite literally – the “gate” where the sheep came in and out. In the morning, a shepherd would stand at the gate and call for his sheep, and because they knew his voice, they would come out and go with the shepherd to the pasture of choice that day. This knowledge of history gives a tangible and real face to the story Christ is relating to his disciples.

So, what then does Christ mean by His words? He is not speaking of the life that the sheep have, a temporal existence, heartbeat, and so on because each of the people to whom He was speaking was already alive. Christ was speaking about a life “in Him”, a life beyond what we know here, eternally but also spiritually here and now. Essentially Christ was saying, “I will take the life you have now and increase its meaning and depth boundlessly, giving you purpose here (glorify God) and the knowledge that you are living for me. The abundant life is a spiritual life lived to the glory of God.

So, we live the abundant life with all our heart, mind, and soul as Christians. That sure sounds like, “Live Like You Mean It”, right? The one thing that we’re missing is the concept that we can all do this and look very different doing it, and we can still be squarely within the intent of God. We dislike this concept as a church, we want a homogenous environment where everyone looks similar and is serving in a similar way. Christ’s disciples didn’t look like that and God hasn’t created us like that. We all look radically different, living different lives, and yet we live for Him. Get over it.

Recently my wife and I attended a meeting of Christian bikers, and someone in the group was cautioning against “appearing” a certain way to ‘bikers’. My dear wife – unable to keep silent any longer – made the perfect point, and that was, “Look; don’t appear to be anything! Be who you are. If you don’t know who that is, figure it out and then be that. Anyone living life “like they mean it” – hardcore biker or otherwise – will sniff out a phony faster than anything else, and your witness to that person will be immediately ineffective. Figure out who you are, what the unique personality is that God gave you; figure out where that intersects with His general will for us to live a life ‘set apart’ and to bring the gospel to all nations, and then live that, “like you mean it”. If even a small percentage of Christians were to live this way, we would see a world changed for the Lord in a single generation. Change the world for Christ, but do this through a life lived with intent, to the fullest, in His joy.

Live it folks, and be joyful when others live it, even if they don’t do it your way. Let me know if your “joy” in the Lord increases?

P.S. Read verse 16 in John 10 and let me know how many churches there are in God’s view? How should we act as a body in light of this?

This entry was posted on Tuesday, March 17th, 2009 at 14:20 and is filed under Faith, Men's Ministry. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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