Originally published Sunday, 17 January 2016.
“Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” Psalm 139:23-24 My prayer was innocent enough but God’s answer came in the most unconventional way. It was at the edge of a dump site in Africa that God spoke and asked what I wanted.
I was afraid to speak about it because “the answer”, the “it” was the very thing I needed to give up. I looked down at the cows feasting on the garbage in the pit of the city dump. I reflected how God had brought me out of my past pit and was thankful for His deliverance.
But there was still some garbage in my life that I needed to get out.
I can remember a time when I was covered in garbage. Or at least it felt that way. Now don’t get me wrong, I know feelings are the most fickle of things. And my faith is not founded on my fickle feelings. But that day I wanted God more than the garbage I had been feeding myself.
Immediately the desire to know God in a deeper way was born in a hidden place inside of me. I also knew to get what I wanted, to live as Christ, I would have to give up something. I finally realized that what I was doing in seeking God, wasn’t enough. It wasn’t coming automatically, I was being pulled under by the influence and garbage of the world.
So there it was…in front of me….on the edge of a city dump in South Africa. As tears streamed down my cheeks, I walked out of the dump of my life so it seemed and pushed past a place of denial and became the faithful follower of Jesus. It would have seemed that I was already there, so might I just pause here to ask you to reflect on your own life?
At last I know without a doubt that to live as Christ often looks like my life is full of Him, but now I know it’s based on the consecutive decisions about the garbage I allow in. I dumped my garbage at the edge of His Presence. I rose on my strong feeling that I had made the right move that day and knew things would be so different, even if they felt the same. I left it all behind at the edge of my inconvenience.
Living totally sold out to the inconvenient and the uncomfortable gets one to the point of your deliverance from your past. Even if you have forgiven and forgotten, you have to drop all of those offenses that have come against you and let go of the right to hold on to an offense for any reason. At least, that was what I had to do to get to the edge, to dump out some hidden garbage by taking a close look at my past with a fine tooth comb. At the edge of the garbage dump I left years and years of shame, blame and guilt roll off that had taken a toll on my soul.
It’s not until you give up or live empty of hurt can you find more of God.
I knew in that moment that if my heart’s desire was to be like Jesus, I had to make a concentrated effort, an intentional decision to spend even MORE time with Jesus over nursing the wounds of my past. It was the second most important decision I have ever made.
Christianity doesn’t come naturally, and living like Jesus takes a choice. Salvation and accepting God’s work on the cross is the best decision you will ever make. But living as Christ lived, starts with living past your past of hurts, abuse, offense and forgetting about those hurts from those who have wronged you.
To live like Christ is to love like Christ. Like those hurts never existed and were not intended to take you out or take you down. To live this way however costs you. I realized that I was the one holding myself back because of my doubt and fear. The work of God in our lives is the strength that is built through our weaknesses, insecurities and inadequacies.
We want to live like Christ but that kind of life is always found outside the realm of convenience. God’s intimacy is always inside of the circle of going all in for Him, this doesn’t come naturally. Christ gave it all for us, for you and for me. Lies will always keep you in bondage, maybe today you just need to open yourself to the process of believing God again.
“To live is Christ” means that we imitate the example of Christ. Everything that Jesus did and said from listening to Father, from giving up stuff, and walking in our identity. That’s what that means. Choosing to live like this is a conscious action, living outside convenience, doing what comes supernaturally and giving our full surrender at all costs, no matter what it takes to “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1).
What would Jesus do? That’s what we want to do. “To live is Christ” means that we pursue Christ as we have been pursued. I want to know Christ better and better each day. Not just a set of facts about Christ, but Christ Himself and to be willing to give up anything that prevents me from having MORE Christ.
What “garbage” is in the way for you to “gain Christ and be found in him?” (Philippians 3:7-9).
When Christ is the center of our day, the point of our mind, heart, body and soul, then He is the center of who we are. This is not convenient and the garbage of easy quickly fades our intentions. But as we run the “race marked out for us,” we lay aside the entangling sin and worldly distractions, “fixing our eyes on Jesus” (Hebrews 12:1-2).
Yes, to live as Christ, outside of the garbage of this world. I want to live like that!