God gives effective tools in our fight to live for him. Without using them, we will fail.
Life is complicated. Christianity is not a faith that keeps you in hiding so that you don’t get hurt. Instead, God has set our hearts on fire and told us to display that flame in the darkness we were born into. He tells us to live our real lives different from how the world expects us to.
When we are born again, we need constant nourishment for the rest of our lives. We eat multiple times per day. We sleep so many hours per day. We drink so much water per day. The spiritual counterparts of food, water, and sleep, are reading the Bible, praying, and worshipping him with others.
The world is dirty. We are required to be pure. While living, we will have dirt thrown on our hearts every day. Through our eyes, we see perversion. Through our ears, we hear cursing. Through our hands, we feel the pain of thorns and the fists of friends. Through our tongues, we taste bitter poison. Through our noses, we smell the rot of death.
What tools does God give us to wash away the dirt, push back the dark, and change the world around us?
First, as we’ve already discussed, he revealed his plan for our lives in the Bible. By reading the text of the Bible and treasuring God’s promises inside, we have our minds cleansed and our hearts strengthened.
Second, he has put the Holy Spirit inside us, so we can pray to God and feel him respond to us. This deepens our conviction and gives us power to live different and help change the world.
Third, he made us for worship. When we worship him, he satisfies our desires, and begins to heal the wounds this world gives us.
Fourth, he made us to enjoy and love people, animals, and the world he’s given us within boundaries. We need to prioritize being with other people and enjoying the natural world.
We need to prioritize spending time with other people who believe in God and love him the way we do. This encourages and strengthens us. It keeps us from getting unbalanced. This is called church. Church isn’t a building we meet in, or a service we attend; church is the people who love both God and us. Spending time with other people who love God (reading the Bible, praying, worshiping, and helping each other live how he tells us to live in the Bible) is vital.
Many have wondered whether meeting with other Christians was important. But the Bible says it’s the whole point. Jesus rose again to build a loving community: one that’s purified in him and satisfied by him. He illustrated this in his behavior after rising from the dead when he ate with his friends, walked with them, and visited them in their private rooms.
If that’s not enough for us, this provocative story a priest told us might help:
One day, a man came to a priest and said, “Father, my brother, Paul, has cut himself off from me and every other Christian. You need to go talk to him and convince him he needs to return!”
The priest went to Paul’s house, knocked on the door, and was told to enter.
Once inside, he found Paul staring at a roaring fire. They nodded silent greetings, and the priest sat next to Paul and stared at the fire. After a moment, the priest picked up metal tongs, grabbed a white-hot coal from the fire, and placed it on the stone floor just outside the fire. He nodded at Paul, smiled, and waited. After a few minutes, the coal cooled so much that it had no fire left.
The priest nodded at Paul, picked up the coal, and tossed it back in the fire. After a few moments, the coal was burning again. The priest laughed, nodded one last time at Paul, and got up to leave.
We are that coal. Without the burning fire of others around us, we will eventually cool down and lose our fire. We need to read our Bibles, develop a diligent daily habit of prayer and worship, and prioritize spending time with other Christians, so we help each other live joyfully obedient to God.
If we do this, God will strengthen, encourage, and bless us. Then he will give us opportunities to share the Gospel with people who need it as badly as we do.
Read Galatians 5:22-26, Psalm 121:1-8, and 1 Corinthians 12:20 - 13:13. Is it clear to you how God wants us to live? Pray for God to give you the strength to live out the love you read about in these verses. What’s one way you can begin to put this sort of love into practice? Write it down, then go and do it!