How to live a miserable Christian life (conclusion)

15 08 2006

dj.jpgThis is the conclusion to the series here on How to live a miserable Christian life.

The goal has been to point out some things that commonly plague Christians in their walk with Jesus, while hoping to encourage a heart change leading to a life change that produces greater joy and more ascribed glory to God.

I have appreciated many of the encouraging words as result of this series, I do pray that it is helpful. As I mentioned in the outset these are posts that have been written to myself first and foremost with a desire to share “the love” with others.

So let’s look at the final two. I know that there are myriads of others, however, these have been some common ones that I have encountered.

9. Deny the Sovereignty of God

Not many Christians will deny that God is sovereign…cofessionally anyway. There are of course those who believe that God does not know the future or cannot control the future (open theists). I am not talking about this group here. Instead I am referring to those who affirm that God is in control (Ps.115.3) but then deny this theological truth with their life.

A common way that we do this is by worrying. Rarely do we find ourselves worrying about what has happened in the past (unless it is the present or future consequence of the action). Instead we worry about what will happen in the present and in the future.

Jesus diagnosis this problem by saying that it is due to a lack of faith and is a characteristic of unbelievers (Matt. 6.30-32). This really is the issue. When we are worrying about events or circumstances we are reacting with a faithless self-absorption that is upset because we have realized that we are not sovereign. And to make matters worse, we just marinate in this posture of anxiety, refusing to trust and depend upon the God who is sovereign and good.

Jesus tells us to seek the agenda of God, even delighting in it (Matt. 6.33) and then trust in the power and goodness of God while being content with his care for us. This is a good word for my heart. Instead of having my heart race and my stomach turn in knots for a lack of personal sovereignty my soul should be comforted by the reality that God is indeed sovereign.

Look, anybody can affirm God’s sovereignty on Sunday morning or in a conversation with another believer, but it is the trusting child of God that really believes this truth that will affirm it as a characteristic of their life…even when things are not in accordance with our “ideal”….because we know that it is in accordance with God’s sovereign will.

10. Think that every Christian must look and act like you

One of the most underappreciated aspects of Christianity, I feel, is the diversity of backgrounds and life stories that populate the collective church of Jesus. Upon salvation Christians sever their enlistment in the army of Satan (Eph. 2.1-3) and are adopted into the family of God.

ned-flanders.jpgHowever, Jesus does not give everyone a uniform and a lunchbox and tell us all to walk, talk, and look like a certain guy or girl. Instead we are told to hate sin and love Jesus. We are all to be looking more and more like Jesus everyday as we look less and less like Adam.

But something funny happened on the way to glory…some folks get pretty upset when church people do not look, talk, and play like them. Sometimes people get heated and eventually judgmental when people don’t wear certain clothes to church (suit & tie, or other dress up stuff…) or they don’t talk a certain way, or they have tattoos, or they listen to certain types of music, or they don’t home school (or do home school)…the list is endless.

The problem comes when we want people to primarily conform to our image rather than to Jesus’. So according to miserable Erik, everyone should be wearing Erik’s uniform (which is all black btw…) and talking the same way and basically doing everything I do….or else!! This is crazy. You and I are not the Savior, Jesus is. Sure we are to be examples of godliness and others are to follow us as we follow Christ, but we are not to expect and demand everyone to be us.baptist.jpg

Instead enjoy liberties in Christ, enjoy the diversity in the body, and enjoy the world that God has made. Do all of this while hating sin and loving Jesus. If Christ and his glory are preeminent we’ll be much better off. Christianity is about Jesus not us. Let’s work hard to look and act like him and encourage others to do the same.

I do pray that this has been helpful. Jesus prayed that we would have his joy (Jn. 17.13). Let’s work hard at valuing him sufficiently that we my enjoy him supremely and exalt him preeminently!!






6 responses

16 08 2006
Jason Goodman

Just wanted to let you know I completely agree with the article titled, “How to live a miserable Christian life” although one point I would like to make is the part about people silently demanding that others dress like them, look talk, etc when they show up for church. Not to point fingers, but when I was at OBC that was how it was. If you didn’t dress in a near-suit or had piercings on your eyebrows or you didn’t go to Sunday school EVERY SINGLE sunday, or you wore jeans, etc. you were looked upon as wierd. But good article and keep it up!

16 08 2006

There are many people who come to OBC who do not wear suits (the overwhelming majority). Also many people here have piercings. I was here when you were here Jason and I did not experience this…I also wore jeans and flip flops quite a bit. Perhaps I am so wierd that I just didn’t notice?

The overwhelming emphasis from the pulpit and leadership here has been, as I point out here, not to measure your spirituality by demeaning others but by acting and looking like Jesus. We are not perfect, this I grant. However, the emphasis is not upon washing the outside of the cup.

16 08 2006

I am a pastor’s wife at OBC and I have a nose ring. Perhaps your views were a bit off while you visited/attended OBC…OH, me and several friends from OBC went out and all got other piercings together in December. It was a blast! A round of tasters at Upstream topped off the night.

You should also know that during your time at OBC our Senior Pastor addressed piercings and tattos during a Q&A sesssion. Of course it was a biblical answer…they’re not sinful.

17 08 2006
Jason Goodman

To Erik and “bygrace”. Wow! I never knew this! I guess the people I hung out with and the Elder I was friends with gave me the wrong impression. They were of the impression to always dress up and they gave a VERY indirect impression that “you” whoever that is, should too. Tatoos and piercings were sort of implied that you shouldn’t, etc. I wish I had known you better Erik! I would have probably got piercings and tatoos and thrown down a few with all of you too! I just want to say again that the elders have all taken an oath to never drink alcohol. In fact if one wants to be an elder you have to take that oath, at least that is what the elder I was friends with told me. Just ask them sometime. Unless this has changed in the last 2 years and then I could be wrong. Please understand I am not trying to point fingers here, just contrasting the “unspoken rule” with Erik’s VERY good article! By the way, bygrace, are you Pastor Pat’s, Chris Peterson’s, or Phil Green’s wife? If you are either of those, then I know you and hi to you! 🙂 Erik ,again, very good article. I am trying to read all of your articles as I am trying each day to grow in Christ and His truth. Seriously man, I know we have had our differences and “cockfights” with each other, but you really have an awesome website here!

17 08 2006

Jason regarding the alcohol position it has changed (as I noted in the Jedi Mind Trick comment)…we do use wine for communion and I have had a beer with the elders.

Just to be clear we are not doing this things to push liberties or to thumb our noses at folks, but intsead just trying to be biblical and not “forbid” things such as food or drink as 1 Tim. 4 tells us this is the “doctrine of demons”.

So again, the elders do not have “an oath” in place to not drink alcohol, Pat has preached on this, we use wine for communion, and we’ll do church discipline if you are a drunk or anything else that is sinful. But drinking, tattoos, peircings, or smoking is not sinful therefore we do not forbid it.


17 08 2006

You use the word ‘impression’ and ‘implied’…perhaps you misunderstood. One thing that concerns me is that you are making statements about OBC but haven’t been there in a long time and haven’t even visited their web site to keep up.

Jason, if you are so concerned about adding to the scriptures…look no further than the catholic church which sees fit to resacrifice Jesus daily at the mass in a propitiatory manner. This is adds to “This is finished” in a most heinous way.

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