by Pastor Leslie
One of the really enjoyable aspects of being a pastor is seeing people start to fill in the missing dots about life as God intends, and in their spiritual understanding. I remember being a young, relatively new Christian who was tremendously excited about learning new things in the Bible, and living this new life in Christ.
As I matured in faith, I realised that there were lots of missing areas in my Scriptural and spiritual understanding, especially in my understanding of the nature of the church and church history. Even with these missing elements – I still knew that I was now living a totally different life.
I quickly got the overall picture about Jesus, His finished work, faith and the spiritual life – what has taken time is learning how to live life as He intends.
Today I know so much more, and still think there are significant gaps in my understanding in crucial areas of life and ministry, but life is so much more rich and satisfying in Christ.
I am still learning, and there are times when life in this world is difficult, pressured and confusing. However, He is with me every day, and by His Spirit, word, fellowship with other believers, and the Christian Disciplines – He is transforming me to reflect His life, even when I struggle with the power of self, sin, Satan and the world.
Jesus is the Source of True Life
Jesus said that He came to give life in all its fullness, a rich and satisfying life (John 10:10). Am I living a rich and satisfying life? Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life, the Way to the Father, the embodiment of God’s truth, and the Life-Giver (John 14:6). Am I living in the life of Christ?
There is life outside of Christ, and there is life in Christ. The former is tied to this world, lived without a living relationship with God through Jesus. The latter is God’s designed life for all who will repent and believe in Jesus, and is lived in full relationship with God through Jesus.
Life with the Help of Others
As I have said before, I was blessed in the first years of my Christian life to have three Christian mentors in my life. One was a theological mentor who helped me learn so much about God’s truth.
The next was a spiritual mentor who opened up the importance of spiritual power and life to the Christian’s walk.
The final one was a life application mentor who helped me see the value of thinking of church beyond the traditional model of services and formal gatherings. As well as services and formal gatherings – church is a base for learning how to live out the faith, and in sharing life together with our brothers and sisters in Christ in worship, fellowship, service, giving, witness, mission, spiritual formation and relationship.
I also realise now that God placed another Christian in my life so we could learn together about living the life of Jesus, my own mother. Together we learned how to live out our faith in the world and business with all its challenges, trials and work. In many ways, we taught each other so much, and encouraged each other to live out what we believed.
Four Parts to the Life of Jesus
On Sunday morning, as part of my sermon on ‘God Brings Wholeness,’ I highlighted the importance of all four of the areas I have just listed to biblical wholeness:
i. Theology – knowing, understanding and living by God’s truth. I stated above that Jesus is God’s truth; His truth is also revealed in the pages of the Bible. Jesus our Lord’s divine power gives us everything necessary for life and godliness – His word reveals the wonder of the promises He gives which enable us to share in His life (2 Peter 1:3-4).
ii. Spiritual Power – living a Spirit-filled life in the life and power of the Spirit and word. The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set me free from the law of sin and death (Romans 8:2). The Holy Spirit shares His wonderful, pure and completely refreshing life with us. He enables us to step up, live and minister as Jesus calls us to do as He brings alive His living word in us.
iii. Application in a Local Church – the local church is God’s designed centre for learning how to live the Christian life with other believers. The setting in which to worship, serve, give, witness, and partner in God’s mission to the world through Christ.
It is the spiritual home in which to share in Christian fellowship with brothers and sisters in Christ. Also the place to learn about biblical stewardship, and how to apply these principles as wise managers of the talent or talents He has given us.
iv. The life of faith in the world – this is about being equipped to be salt and light for Christ in the world, but also to live and partner with the redemptive power of Christ in the life He has given. It is about living a Christ-honouring life in a world that is often antichrist in nature.
This is the place where our Christian character, integrity, personality and spiritual life are all tested, and most clearly defined. The setting in which to produce a return for the Master from the talent/talents He has given us to manage wisely.
Life in Relationship
We can often limit our relationships to a temporal, almost humanist view. Viewing life in this way is life with the impact of the divine left out. Using the Bible to define how we look at life means that we can grasp the life of God in Christ through the Spirit, a life often experienced and embraced through our fellowship with each other. Yes, we are designed to live in relationship.
Family, church, community, society and nation are all extensions of life in relationship. The structures may become ever more complex within which the relationships are defined and regulated, but it is still about the application of life in relationship.
Life in Me
As we think of our own lives in this mortal body – we often separate our bodies from the spiritual part of us, an almost Gnostic view. The Gnostics were in error about the Trinity and God’s intention for life and godliness – they saw life as a dichotomy. That is divided between a spiritual good part, and a materialistic, mortal evil part.
Now of course, even the great Apostle Paul understood the challenge of living life in this mortal body, and engaging with the humanity enshrined in our souls. Our relationships, emotions, thoughts and choices naturally want to follow the old way of the world, drawn to the power of Satan and sin.
However, the dominating principle for Paul was the theological truth of the victory of Jesus over sin, and of our victory then in Christ.
Romans 6:6-7, NLT, ‘We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin. 7For when we died with Christ we were set free from the power of sin.’
But he also understood the reality of the battle within – seen at the end of Romans 7, where he lamented the times when he did not live out the godliness that he taught. CSB, ‘What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? 25Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with my mind I myself am serving the law of God, but with my flesh, the law of sin.’
What Paul was pointing out was that in this life there will always be a battle with the desires of our mortal bodies – the mortal and soul are drawn to the carnal and soulish. This is life not submitted to the Spirit of God. However, our victory is rooted in Jesus Christ our Lord, and a good life is only truly found in relationship with Him.
The Bible reveals an intense unity within ourselves – the spiritual, soul and body all together so we can live out the life of Christ within. In fact, seeing the spiritual part of us as good and the physical, carnal part as evil is destructive to the rich and satisfying life Jesus came to give to us.
The life in Christ is about learning about how to deny self, and allow the power of God and our Christian application to transform our souls and bodies submitting them daily to Christ and His life. Then we can recognise the unity within, and the potential of the Spirit and word of God to transform every single part of us.
Do you believe that your life can be transformed in a Christ-like manner? It is important that we embrace the power of Christ to transform us. He is especially preparing me for life beyond this world. Jesus gives eternal life! He leads us into a good life. Amen