The answer to this question for many of us is what we do or what we own, how we look, or our position and status in life. It often amounts to what gratifies us in some way. It makes us feel accepted or acceptable.
Although Christians walk in the same shoes and deal with the same issues as those who are not followers of Christ, we are not exempt from this subtle snares of life. For the Christian, meaning can be found in a host of religious practices. Everything done for God is good of course, but even serving God can become the person’s identity.
Many Christians have been taught to rest on the falsehood that what matters most to God is what we accomplish for him, rather than how much he loves us and wants a relationship with us.
The Christian who is focussed on living for God has a host of options to prove his/her commitment. Things like souls saved, tithes given, sin eradicated, church attendance, and regular prayer and Bible reading. I would remind you that good things are often chosen over the best things and our topic a classic example. In this case it is simply the wrong focus. If you are using these behaviors to measure your spiritual temperature you are likely running a fever.
Let’s take a quick look at the life of the apostle Paul and see if it helps clarify this delima. Paul was of course the consummate servant. He described himself no less than four times as a slave or bond servant of Jesus Christ. Paul’s commitment to serving Christ cannot be questioned.
But to get a clear picture of what really dominated his life we must understand what his true focus was. Skye Jethani in his marvelous book, “With” says the following regarding Paul. “...but a life spent for God is not what even Paul desired most for himself or others. Although God’s mission dominated his life, it did not define it. A more careful reading of Paul’s letters reveals something remarkable—everything in the apostle’s life, including God’s mission, took a backseat to his paramount goal: God himself.”
He goes on to say that, “This personal connection with Christ is what Paul values above all else, and why he could find joy even while in chains.” In other words, Paul’s intimate relationship with Christ took precedent over what he did for Christ.
Just one statement by Paul sums up his position. “More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. . .” Philippians 3:8 (NAS)
The most quoted athlete of all time has to be Yogi Berra. One of my favorites is “If you come to a fork in the road take it.” My friend Mike Wells spoke to this issue in his book “My Weakness for His Strength.” He said “…we will come to a “Y” in the road. Go right and we will make the choices God wants us to make. Go left and we will be on the wrong road, where the emphasis is on choosing those things considered to be good: choose to pray, read the Bible, witness, stop the deeds of the flesh, and love an enemy. However, this is not the choice God wants us making. If we think the decision that we need to make is to lay down our sin, we are on the wrong track and can be sidetracked for years. It is easy to spot someone on the wrong road; he will say something like, “I should pray more, give more, do more witnessing, love more, be a better mate.” This reveals a person that has made a wrong choice.
So what is it that God wants us to choose? First, choose to lose our personal kingdom, our glory, our pride, our righteousness, and our strength. This is opposite of choosing to do better; it is admitting that we cannot do better. Second, we will be ready to choose to accept His righteousness, kingdom, glory and strength. The third choice is to allow His life to flow through us, and we will then be living in dependence on the Son as He lived in dependence on the Father. These three choices will produce and accomplish everything that was desired on the left road, but without the self-effort that leads to self-righteousness and the false sense that we are living “the good Christian life.”
I trust this will lead you to a place of appreciating that what God wants from you most is not what you do, but who you are. He is focused on your relationship to him. May you return the honor.