This week we are beginning a series called “Home Improvement.” We will be taking a look at how we can improve our relationships with God, our families, neighbors, and ourselves. When we begin a series like this, it is very easy to segment our lives and teaching into little psychological compartments. Like any building, if we do not start on a good foundation, we will sink. There is a question that should be in front of our faces whenever we start any endeavor at self-reflection and self-improvement. What is it all for? Where do I begin? Where am I going?
You may have made some goals for this year, but did you make the right goals? Every once in a while I get that deadly combination of being hungry and lazy. I am hungry and I know I need to eat something. However, I am lazy and do not want to fix anything. On the top shelf of the pantry sits a bag of chips. Even worse, a box of cookies rest next to them. They tempt with their salty and chocolatey goodness. They speak gently and say, “I require nothing but an accompanying glass of root-beer or perhaps some cold milk.” The hunger is soon satisfied, but my body isn’t. A goal was set. Feed the hunger. But the need was not met. Fuel the body. I didn’t need a snack, I needed a meal.
We compartmentalize our life so much that we make the assumption that one part of our life has nothing to do with the other. We assume that our eating habits have nothing to do with our work habits and our work habits have nothing to do with our home habits and our spiritual habits have nothing to do with anything. This is one reason we struggle to meet the goals we make or are surprised when the goal met doesn’t fully satisfy. We fill up on snacks when our life requires a meal.
While reading Philippians 3, I came across verse 8. Paul writes, ”I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.” Paul was writing here about the danger of basing our relationship with God on how religious we are. Essentially, he warns that if our life is centered around religion and not Christ, we will miss out. We snack instead of feast. But the warning, though directed toward the religiously zealous, is not limited to them. Is this warning not true with all of life? Is everything considered loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Jesus Christ? If so, then what does that mean?
Once again, we fall into the danger of thinking our lives are compartmentalized. We would like to take these words of Paul seriously, but either we chuck them out because we think it too radical, or embrace them with lack of understanding and become fanatical. The words of scripture are never to be removed from life. God didn’t just create humans with a soul, but with a digestive system too. What I mean by this is that our spiritual life is directly related to our living, breathing, playing, working, and eating life. If that is the case, then “considering all loss” in comparison with knowing Christ is not to dismiss everything else, but to place it in context.
Consider Jesus’ words in Matthew 6, “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness. And all these things will be added unto you.” Seeking the kingdom, seeking Christ, is not about being devoid of life, but about entering into it fully. It is about setting the right goal. I can be determined to eat healthier this year, but it might not require me to be a nicer person. However, when I seek Christ first and when I set my life upon knowing Jesus, if taken seriously, will help me lose weight, work better, play better, etc. The reason is that I have determined to take the words “my life” seriously. My life is not limited to one portion of what I do. My life is not simply spirituality removed from the physical aspects of living. My life is not segmented into multiple parts disconnected from one another. My life is centered in and hinges on my direct relationship with Christ. Therefore, how I spend my money, how I eat my food, how I delegate my time, is directly related to how I know Christ.
What might your life look like if you asked yourself how knowing Christ affects the various goals you have set in your life. And if you have not set goals for yourself, how does knowing Christ fit into that as well. Jesus isn’t just junk food religion that desires to feed a temporary hunger fix. He is the real thing that desires to fuel your entire life. What you and I will discover in making a life that seeks to know Christ, is a God who desires to give life and fulfill our deepest and truest desires. Let us not just settle for snack food living, but let us feast on the meal only Christ can provide.
Things To think about:
- What is the state of your relationship with God and how is that affecting your relationships with others?
- How is God connected to the desires of your heart?
- If you could change 3 things in your relationships, what would they be?
- Do you believe God cares about your relationships and wants life for you?
Praying and Preparing for Sunday Worship:
- Read Ephesians 2:19-22
- Pray for God to reveal to you areas you need to allow him to meddle with.
- Pray for your pastors and worship leaders that we will be attuned to the Holy Spirit and his leading.
- Pray for courage to allow God to work in your life
- Pray for those who will be worshiping together that our lives might uplift one another.