A few weeks ago in a sermon, I made reference to an old story called "My Heart, Christ's Home" in which a person's heart is referred to as Christ's dwelling place, much like an actual home complete with rooms, halls and closets. The idea is that many Christians invite Jesus "into their heart" which is just another way of saying we have put our faith and trust in Jesus alone for salvation and invited him to have control of our lives. Yet, we keep parts of our heart closed off to Jesus. Similar to inviting a guest for dinner, we would welcome them into the living room and kitchen but we wouldn't open up all the closets or the basement storage area. With Jesus, we want him to save us and bless us and allow us to spend eternity with Him but at the same time we limit his work in our lives. With this in mind, over the next few weeks I want to explore the last 5 things Christians give to God.
This is not a list generated by an intense study and surveys of Christians over the last 2 millenia. It is a list based on almost 40 years of observing the Church, both as a member and as a pastor. I welcome your feedback on it and perhaps we can have some dialogue about it as well.
Often when a person decides to follow Jesus they are immediately drawn to the reading and studying of God's word. This is great and many new Christians grow in their knowledge of God's word right away. But the knowledge of God's word doesn't always translate right away into life change. For example, 2 Corinthians 6:16 says we are the temple of the living God. This means we are actually a dwelling place for his Spirit. But this truth doesn't always cause us to begin taking better care of this temple - our bodies. On our list of things Christians are slow to submit to God, the first one we'll explore is - HABITS. This is a broad term but what we're talking about here are the ingrained ways of living that we've become so accustomed to we no longer think about how they affect others or how they conflict with what the Bible says.
When I was a young man I never thought about how my temper was a reflection of my relationship with Jesus. I was in a bad habit of expressing my anger in negative ways. I never even considered that I should rely on God to tame it. I also had a judgmental spirit. I was in a terrible habit of making snap judgments of people I met. It took years for this to be confronted in my life and dealt with. What about you?
Here are some examples: We all have our morning and evening routines. Are we willing to adjust those to make room for prayer and time with God? Maybe we make it a habit to deliver commentary (both verbal and nonverbal) to other drivers on the road. Or maybe we've built a reputation on being a tough guy but now Christ's love asks us to be compassionate. Perhaps we've made a career out of biting sarcasm and raised it to an art form. Our attitude and comments result in subtle put downs of those around us. And then there's the obvious habits like what we eat or drink that may not be expressly forbidden by God but could get between us and Him. I could go on. The point is that we all have habits and ways of living that are just part of us but they are not necessarily pleasing to God. We must ask God to help us adjust our habits so they reflect a heart devoted to him. God doesn't want you to change the personality he gave you. It's who you are. But who you are can be expressed in God honoring ways if you'll ask him to help you change.
These types of changes are often the last things we surrender to God because they are the things most attached to who we are and the attributes least likely to be called out by loving Christian brothers and sisters. We are asked to bear with one another and love each other. But the same love that helps us put up with each other is the same love that must inspire us to gently point out where Christ's transforming power is needed.
So, are there any personal quirks or habits that need to be submitted to the Lordship and leadership of Jesus?