Life is worth living when you are living your life to honor and glorify the one and only true God.
I was recently asked about my testimony of faith. While explaining how I believe that Jesus is the one and only true God, and that, by no effort on my own, I am invited to go to heaven because I asked Jesus into my heart and acknowledge Him as my Lord and Savior, I immediately began to talk about the Christian lifestyle.
There is not a requirement that we live a holy lifestyle to go to Heaven. It is abundantly clear in scripture that we don’t earn our way to eternity in Heaven. That is a free gift from God. However, by accepting Jesus into our hearts, there is a desire to follow Him and live a life that is honoring and pleasing to him.
When talking with a friend about their lifestyle of living as a gay man, I remember our conversation about how he believed in Jesus, yet he was never satisfied. He was born into a Catholic family. He had been married to a woman in the Catholic church. He and his wife also had a child. My friend was successful from a career standpoint. Yet, in the 1980s he left his family to move to a different state where his sexual choice to live as a gay man was more openly accepted. Throughout his adult life he battled depression and addiction. He was the first person that I knew personally who had HIV in the early 1990s. Because of his wealth and career status, he was able to afford cutting edge medicine that kept him alive for nearly three more decades. However, those years were not happy years. Not because of the HIV, but because of who he was living his life for. He was always looking for the next excitement in life. He wanted to feel needed and wanted. He was willing to give the shirt off his back to a complete stranger. He was looking for a sense of purpose. This man was a wonderful person who loved people. We talked about how God had a plan for our lives and when we are living a sinful life, we will always have a sense of guilt, shame, and emptiness. This conversation opened up my eyes to the reality that who we live our lives for matters and that being born into a Christian family does not automatically save us from ourselves. Each person has free-will and we must make a choice over good and evil many times throughout the day.
Personally, I have often felt like a failure. I have desired the feeling of being needed or wanted too. I have longed for a life with pleasure, peace, and joy. I want to have more meaningful relationships and I want to have more fun, but more than anything, I want to live a life that honors and please the God of the Universe. Being a Christian does not make life easy. However, when I realized that I cannot make other people happy, I shifted my mindset to focus on God and pursue Him instead. When I live each day to please God, I do my best. I am not perfect, but I try. By putting my energy into the right place (the pursuit of following Jesus), I feel better. I feel more content and I feel like I am doing work that matters.
We all fail. Romans 3:23 reminds us that we are all sinners. Some may stop there and claim that they can’t meet the standards of Christian living, so they give up and continue to live a worldly lifestyle. However, when Jesus has entered into our hearts, we should have the desire to live for him. We should desire to be as sin-less and blame-less as possible.
Ephesians 4:17-32 provides instructions for Christian living. These instructions include removing bitterness, rage, anger, slander, and unwholesome talk from our being. We are also not supposed to quarrel, steal or lie.
I remember my first conscious realization, a situation where I had lied intentionally and the guilt I felt from that lie. As I “mature in Christ,” I remember times where I promised to do something and didn’t follow through. That was also a lie. I also remember when I would lie by the omission of information. These “baby steps” of maturity rested in my heart, mind, and soul as I slowly tried to change and focus more on Christ and less on me. I remember the “freedom” that I felt as I stood for Christ and made decisions (one at a time) to speak the truth and try my best not to lie. I was not a compulsive liar by any means. However, as a young person, I remember thinking that “little white lies” or “gray areas” were actual things. Over time, I realized that truth vs. lie is much more black and white without a gray area. It is either the whole truth or a lie. There is no in-between.
As I “mature in Christ,” I continued to try and live a more Christian lifestyle. More than a decade ago, I stopped watching mainstream television. I did not like the television commercials that I could not control. Without warning, an advertisement could pop up and present a topic that misaligns with our family value system, so we stopped watching mainstream television and have been intentional in what we allow come into our eyes and ears through media (television, movies, music, books, etc.).
The reason I chose to be protective and guard my family against such things is that I wanted to maintain a lifestyle that would allow us to be sensitive to God’s way of living. It was easy to become desensitized to profanity, sex before marriage, drinking, drugs, murder, and the other things seen on cable television because it was seen every day in nearly all of the shows. By seeing such things frequently, it deadens our senses, and we are no longer shocked by the evil and adulterous nature of what is being seen.
Also, I wanted to have a safe place for my family to be themselves, be innocent, pure, and free from worldly influences. This gives them a chance to learn more about who God made them to be and how they are each created in the image of God for a purpose.
Living a life honoring and pleasing God is not boring. In fact, it can be quite joyful and pleasing to have a lifestyle where we are not torn between our own value system and concern about what someone else will think of us. Instead, we live a life with the expectation that we do our best to please God today, and what others think really doesn’t matter. If I please God, I should, by default, please others. Life is worthy of living when we are living a life in pursuit of Christ!
Today, I want to challenge each reader to consider their lifestyle. Is it a Godly lifestyle or a worldly lifestyle? What needs to change in 2023 to live a life worthy of living for Jesus Christ?
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