The most important thing in my life is my faith in Jesus Christ. I don't take it lightly. Yet, I am constantly challenged to check myself to make sure that my current views and beliefs line up with the bible. The bible to a follower of Jesus is the blood to our soul; without it we are going to die. The bible is actually the word of God, Jesus is the Word and thus what we have to know the heart of God here on earth. But I do have to check myself and make sure that I am not in love with the bible alone (meaning in love on a intellectual level and not really in love with Jesus). In love with Jesus may sound strange because we are usually romantically in love with someone. When I say in love with Jesus I mean that he is the one on my heart, on my mind, the object of my devotion and affection.
Where I am challenged is sorta two fold. I will talk about the first and then the other in a following paragraph. I am constantly challenged by the Word of God. When I read it it is not a passive text to me. I am challenged in how I view God because I want to understand him correctly, not just how I fancy him. I am challenged in how I live out my life because:
For the word of God is living and powerful,
and sharper than any two-edged sword,
piercing even to the division of soul
and spirit, and of joints and marrow,
and is a discerner of the thoughts
and intents of the heart. Hebrews 4:12
I can attest to this, because the Word of God pierces my heart and corrects me constantly. To follow Jesus isn't like a club you join and then you get your membership card and you are done. No, to follow Jesus is to subject yourself to a lifetime of sanctification. He, through his Word, the Holy Spirit, and hopefully our Christian bothers an sisters, are working out the dross in our metel, if you will. Jesus wants his church, his bride, to be pure and thus he constantly works on purifing me because I am one of the people who make up his church. I have to say that most of this work for me, right now in my life, is in the realm of my attitudes and what comes out of my mouth. The beauty of how Jesus works in sanctifying is that he is gentle, patient, and persistant. He doesn't go all at me in every area at once. It's like I am a little child and we are focusing on one or two things at a time.
Why does he purify us believers? He wants us to be holy as he is holy.
Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober,
and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to
be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ;
as obedient children, not conforming yourselves
to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; but as
He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all
your conduct, because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.”
Of course, we are not going to perfectly achieve this as we live here on earth, but we can become more and more like him. Also, our efforts to be holy do not save us from the wrath of God. We are all born sinners and seperated from our creator God. His wrath was on us because "We all sin and fall short of the glory of God." Romans 3:23 The good news is that Jesus took the penalty for the sins of the world. When he died, was buried, and rose again he took on our sins and the punishment came on him. He died for us, in our place, but rose to life. God made it simple, we need to have faith that all of this is true and put our faith in Jesus to clear our name with God. He took our punishment and we are considered justified (like in a court of law when a person is exonerated). This challenges me over and over again because I see that there is nothing that I ever did to desirve this and there is nothing that I could ever do to earn Christ love and forgiveness. It is a done deal and my part is to believe it. Amazingly simple. What is challenging is living it out. The bible tells us that once we believe this we are made into a new creature (2 Corinthians 5:17). That is the idea behind the term born again. When we believe on what Jesus did for us, we die to sin and are made alive with him. We are born in our spirit and given the Holy Spirit to live in us. Our body is actually the temple of the Holy Spirit. That is a glorious and heavy thing. To have God living inside of me is incredible, but he is always there with me, when I live in rightousness, or when I choose to live in unrightousness. I could actually grieve the Holy Spirit who lives in me. That is a concept you don't hear much of, but it is a real thing Christian friend. I desire to live in a way that brings God glory and honor and am challenged to be wise in how I live and not grieve the Holy Spirit.
Here is the second thing that is very challenging. When you get a group of followers of Christ to gether you get a lot of different ideas about the things of Christian living. I think this happens for a few reasons. The first reason being is that each of us are at different developmental stages in our life with Jesus. You could not sit in a room of mixed ages of people and have the 2-year-olds and the 32-year-olds agree on the same thing. We have different ages in our faith. I am 42 years old in my faith. I can't expect someone who is 6-years-old in the faith to have the same bible knowledge and experience in life as I do. This causes differences. Another reason that we are different I believe is due to the churches we attend. Not all Christian churches are the same, and not all churches are practicing the true teachings of the Christian bible. You could have a room full of people who say they are Christians but it could very well mean different things to different people. If one does not get into the bible and read and study it for themself they could easily be misled. Just because a pastor says it doesn't make it true. Our true North, the compus of our faith is the Bible. This can even be challenging because people interpret the Bible differently. Some people like to extract a verse and give it meaning that it doesn't really have. Some people like to heavy on one part of the bible and neglect the others. Some people do not believe the Old Testament is relavent anymore and only read the New Testament. It is challenging to be united even in one faith. This is not at all what God intended. He wants his body, the body of Jesus Christ, the church to be united. How on earth can that be accomplished? Read and study your bible Christian. Humble yourself before God and committ to obeying what the Bible teaches. Find a church that teaches the bible, where there are not celebreties but bothers and sisters in the faith wanting to uphold the Holy Word of God, have faith that Jesus alone is their Savior from the wrath of God against sin, and who want to live in truth and love. Being a follower of Jesus Christ is challenging and you will ever be growing. The Bible teaches that we are aliens and strangers here on earth (I Peter 2:11) and that our citizenship is in heaven (Philippians 3:20). We will have struggles and will live in a world rift with sin, but we have our hope in Christ and the eternity that we will spend with Him without suffering or sorrow.
Are you also a follower of Christ? What do you find challenging?
I'm first a follower of Jesus, a wife of 25 years, a mom to three boys, a baker/cook, a photographer, a friend, and a writer.