The following are the notes from this week’s CROSSROADS lesson. Words in bold identify key phrases from notes pages handed out each week. If you would like copies of our slides, please feel free to reach and request them. As these are from the notes pages for each week, please excuse any typos or grammatical errors.
In today’s world it’s easy to separate how we act and what we believe. The world around us is not ‘forcing us’ to live according to how we talk. In anything, they are extremely happy to have us believe what we want in private or in church and just not bring it up at all around them. This begs the question, how is faith and action connected? How does one influence the other? This question could go in a lot of ways, but specifically ask yourself how it influences our individual actions. Why does it influence us that way? Is it as simple as God saying “act this way” as we do it or does God have a reason for us acting one way or the other?
Take a look at how Paul explains how we live in his letter to the Philippians.
Above all, you must live as citizens of heaven, conducting yourselves in a manner worthy of the Good News about Christ. Then, whether I come and see you again or only hear about you, I will know that you are standing together with one spirit and one purpose, fighting together for the faith, which is the Good News. (Philippians 1:27)
That’s an interesting phrase because we aren’t used to hearing people talk about being ‘worthy’ of the Good News. After all, all you have to do is say a prayer and you’re saved, right? What does it mean to be ‘worthy’ of the Good News? Let’s break this question down into two smaller pieces.
First, what is required to be worthy in the eyes of God?
25 One day an expert in religious law stood up to test Jesus by asking him this question: “Teacher, what should I do to inherit eternal life?”
26 Jesus replied, “What does the law of Moses say? How do you read it?”
27 The man answered, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind.’ And, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”[c]
28 “Right!” Jesus told him. “Do this and you will live!” (Luke 10:25-28)
Right there, you hear Jesus explain to this religious expert what it takes to be ‘worthy’ in the eyes of God. Jesus tells the man that if he can PERFECTLY OBEY GOD’S LAW, then the man will be worthy of eternal life in heaven. After all, that was the purpose in ‘the law’ when God first gave it to the Jews; to show them the perfect standard of God. Unfortunately, none of us are perfect and all of us fall short of the glory of God.
For no one can ever be made right with God by doing what the law commands. The law simply shows us how sinful we are. (Romans 3:20)
That becomes an even tougher pill to swallow when you think about the infinite nature of God. What do we mean by infinite? God is infinitely good, infinitely just, and infinitely loving. That means that even if you commit the smallest little sin, how bad is that sin? If you said ‘infinitely bad’, then congratulations because you’re starting to understand how sin works! It’s not a matter of how bad our sins are but a matter of whether we have sinned at all. All of us have sinned and are therefore unworthy of eternal life.
Now for the second question: what is the Good News? This is probably easier for most of you to answer.
This Good News tells us how God makes us right in his sight. This is accomplished from start to finish by faith. As the Scriptures say, “It is through faith that a righteous person has life.” (Romans 1:17)
The Good News is THAT JESUS’ SACRIFICE PAID AN INFINITELY LARGE PRICE FOR OUR SIN and unworthiness. Remember that whole ‘infinite’ conversation? Jesus, being God in the flesh, is infinitely pure and infinitely innocent. That means that His sacrifice on the cross was infinitely sufficient to cover our infinite sin. A key part of this Good News is that we can attain this grace through our faithful obedience to God. Going back to Paul’s original statement about living lives worthy of the Good News, that drives us to the conclusion that we are living worthy of grace when we LIVE AND ACT AS SOMEONE WITH FAITH.
This leads us to an obvious question: How does someone ‘live and act as someone with faith’? What do you think?
Therefore I, a prisoner for serving the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God. 2 Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. 3 Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace.4 For there is one body and one Spirit, just as you have been called to one glorious hope for the future.
5 There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism,
6 one God and Father of all,
who is over all, in all, and living through all. (Ephesians 4:1-6)
Paul breaks ‘living your faith’ into three categories.
The first is how you ACT AS AN INDIVIDUAL. Paul talks about humbleness and gentleness. Other people experience the effects of your humbleness and gentleness, but this is largely centered on your own thoughts and convictions.
The second is how you ACT TOWARDS OTHER PEOPLE. This is probably the hardest, especially when dealing with other Christians. It’s just so amazingly easy to treat people bad by either being mean or aggressive. The world actually celebrates this kind of behavior! The problem is that this doesn’t reflect the type of behavior Christ modeled for us to follow. Jesus was patient and slow to anger, acknowledging that we would all have faults with love.
The third is how you ASSOCIATE WITH GOD THROUGH GOD’S CHURCH. This is a big one and one a lot of people miss. It may sound cliché to hear a minister figure saying “you should go to church”, but if we want to walk around day-to-day with our Christian cards, then we have to reconcile the fact that unity and association with other believers is a critical part of living your faith. Just think of the mechanics of the situation. God says that when we accept Christ, we become fully united to the creator. The old us is gone and we are new creations in Christ. If we are new creations fully united in Christ and other believers are also fully united with Christ, how can we live lives separated from other believers? The only conclusion you’re left with is that you must not be quite as united with God as you first thought! Unity is a critical part of our faith and just because it is socially difficult or inconvenience compared with the other commitments we have doesn’t mean we can just throw it out of our belief system. We don’t have that authority; God has the authority to define how unifying with Him works. If we are truly unified with God, than everyone will be able to see that by how we UNIFY TOGETHER.