Friday, October 10, 2014

Does the Message of Christ Live in Our Lives?

My TIE Value: "Trust in the Lord and do good..." Psalm 37:3a

The time that I spent in the US Army Reserve as a Chaplain’s Assistant served as an intensive training for my future ministries. A portion of my time was in Desert Storm / Shield (1990-91) where adding ammunition to weapons gave every problem an opportunity to go sideways to disaster. Knowing this, there were several individuals who gave their problems and fears to the Lord.

One such person was in his fourth year at Clemson University. He grew up in a family whose faith was genuine and engaged in God’s Kingdom. Like many university students, he took a sabbatical from church as he went to university. He enjoyed being caught up in the spirit of university life.

Being mobilized for war motivated him to pick up his faith and Bible once more. The place I got to know this individual was in one of our remote water detachments where his unit lived outside of a couple of dangerous villages and among the Bedouin nomads who were known for their shifting loyalties.

The chaplain and I would spend the night during our weekly travels to our remote units. We would often slept in the tent where the media resources were set up during our visit. Individuals would come to watch tame movies around us as well as engage in conversation about life, theology and the Bible. This particular individual turned out to be one of the best Bible students throughout our travels.

On one such road trip, he received a care package from his university buddies. He was excited to share the package that consisted of packaged snacks in the university's colors and logos. Then there was a video tape. He had not seen it yet but wanted to see what messages his friends wanted to send him. He told us, “They should have lots of encouragement for me.”

Here is what we saw when we plugged in the 30 minute video:

-          Drinking games played in route to the weekly football game
-          Flashes of female body parts with the phrase “For the troops”
-          Practical jokes played on competing fraternities and unsuspecting loners.
-          And a lot of shout outs, “Stay safe. We wish you were here BUUUDDY!”

He turned off the video and said, “I’ve received better encouragement from my Bible than from these friends.”

My TIE Moment: Deepen the Message of Christ in Life

I have reflected on this experience many times in the last 20+ years. Like the soldier receiving the video from his friends, he found no real encouragement in the fun but shallow relationships they had to offer one another.

Sadly, we church going Christians can offer a G-Rated shallowness of the story I had just described by allowing our conversations be consumed by the:

-          Movies we have seen
-          Video games we have played
-          New items we have bought
-          Great food we have ate
-          And other fun times we have spent with our friends

In the end, there was no room for the message of Christ to enter in our conversations.  Unfortunately, there was no faith investment that will help each of us get through trying times we will face.

Paul writes to the Colossians,
Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. Colossians 3:16 (NIV)

How do we allow Christ’s message to deepen its roots in such an expression of worship?

Colossians 3:1 states, “Since, then you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.” (NIV)

#1 We let the Message of Christ live in our lives when His resurrection is a daily reality 

We have the opportunity to choose words, actions, and support from people who enrich our lives with God’s practical wisdom. We can experience trust and strength when we lack certainty about our present life’s outcomes.

#2 We let the Message of Christ Live in our lives when we place our passion where Christ is Present

There is no higher place than God’s right hand to put our passion. God’s right hand is the place of God’s eternal strength, and authority that cannot be affected by instabilities. God’s right hand is the place where our forgiveness is secured through Jesus. And God’s right hand is the place where our prayers and praises are heard by God Himself. We can be assured that Christ has given us access to the highest place possible to put our passions of joy, calling, and even our suffering.

#3 We let the Message of Christ live in our lives when we put to death our sinful passions so that God’s passion for life may flourish in our lives 

In Colossians 3:5-17 Paul shows that we often let our sins of impurity, lust, and greed that make us place our heart in a lower worldly place. This is where we lack courage when we need it. Even worse, lack the faith that God is present in all of our life’s circumstances.  But by putting to death such passions the end result is that we are able to “[Live] all of life in the name of the Lord Jesus” (Col. 3:17b).

A Final thought, as we live in community with other Christians let's be determined to let the message of Christ to live in us so that we can let the courage of Christ's message live through us everyday.

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