A man travels to a nearby beach where he walks out into deep water until it reaches his chin. He pauses then steps out and suddenly begins to kick his feet, and fling his arms upward, to keep from sinking any further. He tries craning his head above the surface but a film of water no thicker than half an inch remains over his horror-struck face. He springs his toes upwards and succeeds to raise his mouth above the water line and draw enough oxygen into his lungs to where he could pitch forward to safer ground. Later when asked about his ordeal he said that his mind was concentrated on one thing only and that was to breathe, besides that he was impervious to all else.
If this were to happen to any of us we would easily feel the same way. By parallel, is it possible to say that what is crucial to our physical survival also may be true in the spiritual realm? Paul speaks of this very thing “For me to live is Christ, to die is gain.” (Phi 1:21) To some, Paul appears extreme in his holy ambition to mimic His Master “That I count all things a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things.” (Phi 3:8a) Paul was not interested in surrounding himself with comforts, setting his life on cruise control and steering clear from difficulties that can be expected from obeying the gospel. He would not let prosperity or popular acceptance stand in his way to do justice to Christ calling on his life. He says he wished to share in His suffering “becoming like Him in His death” (3:10c) Living for Christ was of paramount importance for Paul, even as breathing is to life, so too was his desire to remain obedient to his Savior. He wanted nothing more than to become like Christ in every way possible, even if it meant to give up his life for Him, which was the case ultimately.
What stands between you and Christ? What drives you each time you wake up in the morning? What is the goal for your life? Is it Christ, or do you let self-gratification, ego, lust, fear, rejection by others, image, or envy motivate you to do the things you do. What is your purpose in life? Pleasing self or serving Christ?
From our early beginnings, we have been designed to worship God. Man is to live his life in such a way that he is to give God the glory in everything. Anything that impedes our progress toward this divine purpose may burden us like a ball and chain, making it more difficult for us to reach our objective. Are you wanting to love God with all of your strength, will and mind or not at all? He gave His life to save those who put their trust in Him. He never held anything back, but offered His life willingly on our behalf. If you are a Christian what is holding you back from giving your all in your service to Christ? Jesus was preoccupied with God’s Will: “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to finish His work” (John 4:34) David desired nothing less than to follow God. “I desire to do Your will, O my God; Your law is within my heart” (Psalm 40:8). The way you spend your time and resources will show what governs your life. Barna polled Church members and reported that twenty percent of them are involved in ministry serving the other 80 percent who are consumers of their efforts, mainly filling the pews. Only one in six church goers are involved in a group of some sort that will prepare themselves for Christian living. (Issue of Knowing and Doing, Spring 2011). The inertia behind this common attitude is that many have relegated faith to a private realm that involves mainly family and Church. Once Monday arrives, the typical response in the workplace finds the Believer conforming to the non-Believer’s culture almost unconsciously, neglecting his personal faith when in public. All the metaphors about being aliens, exiles, and a Kingdom of Priests appear meaningless as the Christian fails to exercise his beliefs and practises and appears to be no different from those in the world.
If you conduct a study of the Christian culture today, you might be surprised to find out that a widening gap exists between those that are Biblically informed people and those who revere the Bible yet do not read it routinely. We live in a climate of intimidation where many do not share their faith. Very few actually seek to build relationships with the lost for the purpose of evangelism. Prayer is often done in private with little regard to joining their efforts to others. The gospel seems to be less of a concern for many Christians today, whereas personal conformity to the world is becoming less of an issue with us than it was a generation ago, sadly to say.
If we are to make a difference, then we will have to take the gospel seriously and see it as the dominating factor in our lives and make it a matter of urgency. We must live, breathe, and suffer for it. As it is our lifeblood we need to study it, obey it, and share it with others. Fellowship with Christ should become as essential to us as taking our next breath, something we absolutely cannot do without. The attitude that is found in John “I must decrease that He might increase” must be ours. Start today to be a 24/7 Christian and lay aside anything that will prevent you from fully realizing what it means to live for Christ.