Thursday, August 1, 2013

Christianity Is Not What It’s Cracked Up To Be!

“For the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. For he who serves Christ in these things is acceptable to God and approved by men.” – Romans 14:17-18

One of the most frustrating parts of my job as a software developer is pulling the requirements for what I’m to create from those that will use it.  If you don’t have a full ideal of the way it will be used, who will be using it, the process, the input devices, the output of the task, and the many business rules piled onto a task – you can’t be successful.  But if the client lays out for me exactly what they want, and all the requirements for me, the day goes smoothly.  At the end of the day I have a sense of self confidence, and a feeling that I did a good job, which leads to a peace within myself.
As Christians, we have put a lot of do-this-don’t-do-that language around the requirements for serving God.  Sometimes there are so many rules that we find it nearly impossible to complete the change in one single lifetime.  We’re told to go to church, get your gold star on your Sunday School calendar, bring a friend, bring your Bible, bring your offering, bring your tithe, read your Bible daily, pray daily, witness to the lost, feed the hungry, visit those in prison, take care of those that are widows or elderly, love each other as we love ourselves, live according to God’s laws, be sanctified, commit our lives to Him, work within our church, teach, lead, overcome obstacles, don’t drink, don’t cuss, don’t do any of the “thou shalt nots”, and ….. Geez, I’m already tired of making the list – let alone trying to determine if I’ve followed it!  Praise God that Christianity is not what we have made it out to be!

Serving God should not be about all the rules we put upon it, but only those that He has put upon it.  Would you follow the rules of just any employer, or would you follow the one who writes your check?  Serving the rules the church and society has placed upon a Christian is not always what God has desired.  If we are to please God, we must live our Christian lives as God finds acceptable. 
In Romans 14:17-18 God tells us what type of service He wants from our lives in three small words: Righteousness, Peace, and Joy.  This is how we are to serve Him, and how we find acceptance from Him. 

We serve in righteousness by accepting Jesus Christ as our savior.  We are all born sinners (Romans 3:23), which causes a breach in our relationship with Holy God.  We come to Him in faith, believing in Jesus as our risen sin sacrifice, which is also called the “rebirth”.  This is when the Holy Spirit moves in with our spirit.  We then abide with Christ, His Spirit in us, and once again, we have full fellowship with God.
We serve in peace by removing the conflicts with God that brings us guilt and shame.  If you know it’s sin, and you continue to do it, the Holy Spirit in you will convict you in order to guide you into all truth (John 16:13), which is the process we call sanctification.  If you know God’s plan for you and you decide to not accept that role, you’ll also live with adversity in your heart, a lack of peace.  His word says to take up your cross daily and follow Him (Luke 9:23).  It’s a cross, which indicates sacrifice.  But through your personal sacrifice to follow God’s will for your life, peace comes like a river!  Peace between you and God is of greater value than anything else you can find in life.

Lastly, we are told to serve in joy.  A strange thing happens when we stop fighting who God wants us to be, accept His righteousness, and follow His will.  We find that even in the sacrifice, there is joy unspeakable.  The only thing I can compare it to is that feeling a small child has in their hearts on Christmas Eve.  It’s a feeling of anticipation, complete happiness, satisfaction, love, and an overwhelming desire to continue on.  Joy in God results in God’s joy in us. 
Feeling the joy that God has in you, being conscious of His acceptance, allows you to feel and receive His love. Oh that is so much more rewarding than a golden star of approval, a position in church, or anything man can offer for being a “good Christian”!  Friends, His love is worth so much more than the acceptance of men.  But a funny thing happens when you receive His love.  You MUST give it away.  You find it easy to love others, and that brings the acceptance of man as well. 

Being accepted by God brings you joy, but it also brings glory to Him (praise, honor, fame, worship).  But being accepted by men for being a “good Christian”, and living to their expectations, is what we’ve made Christianity into. 
Man is not master of our Christian life, God is. 

Finding that sweet spot in life where you can bring God your heart-felt praise, worship, love, and give him glory for ALL in your life – good and bad - that is what serving Him is all about.  Your life will be filled with joy and peace, an intimate relationship with Him, that allows you to be accepted not only by God, but also by man (Romans 14:18). 
Don’t complicate Christianity with too many do-this-don’t-do-that’s.  It’s a simple as righteousness, peace, and joy.



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