Thursday, June 23, 2011

Do You Need a 4 G Spiritual Upgrade?

Many of us Christ followers are still living in a 3G world, but life gets better with a 4G Spiritual upgrade.

We were created in the image of God, so we were created GOOD.
But we sinned and we are GUILTY.
So, God sent Jesus to die for our sins, that’s GRACE.

Those are the 3 G's of the Gospel. They are great, but if we stop there, they can leave us living short of the joy filled life Jesus intends for us. Our faith can become a kind of "Back Buddy" apparatus that helps us pat ourselves on the back... because of all the rules we can follow or the good things we do. Our faith can also become a cat-o-nine tails we use to flog ourselves (and others). We can even use our faith as a license to keep on living in sin and we grant ourselves diplomatic immunity for our heinous behavior. What we really need is a healthy relationship with Jesus, one in which we interact with Him in expressions of thankfulness for an incredible gift we could never afford.

If we get stuck in one of those three traps and we may never enjoy the life of faith for which Jesus paid such a precious price.

1. Some of us think we are GOOD – usually this comes from comparing ourselves with other people: saying “I am good, because I’m better than these other people.” “at least I don’t do those sins that those people are doing.” “I am a good person.” We become very vulnerable to justifying our actions, because we think we are good. We become “Goody-Goodies.” Jesus had a big problem with those who were self-righteous about their rule-following as did his disciple John.
1 John 1:8 (NIV) If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.

2. Others of us run around feeling GUILTY all the time – we feel bad about ourselves, so we tear ourselves and others down. We feel sorry and guilty all the time. We know we can never live up to the religious rules we study and read. When we feel guilty we can be easily manipulated by someone else(usually a goody-goody) who will take advantage of our vulnerabilities. We are an open target, when we are operating out of a guilt mentality. We can fill up with bitterness, become toxic, blow up, and sabotage what God wants to do in us and through us. Then we feel even more guilt! We have got to live by faith in His Grace. Paul helps us understand that living in guilt is not God’s plan for us.
Galatians 3:10-11 (NIV) All who rely on observing the law are under a curse, for it is written: "Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law." 11 Clearly no one is justified before God by the law, because, "The righteous will live by faith."

3. Some of us give ourselves license to go on sinning because we are under GRACE. We ARE under grace, but that doesn’t give us permission to go on sinning. The apostle Paul was pretty adamant about it.
Romans 6:1-2 (NKJV) What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?

4. We need a 4G Gospel upgrade. We all need to live in GRATITUDE, being thankful for God’s salvation and grace. What if, in everything we do we are thankful? We could change the world. Would you rather hear someone who is thankful for all that they have or someone who complains all the time about what they don’t have? Some people live to complain, but others have unlocked the secret to Godly living by living in gratitude, grateful for all things. God works all things together for good for those who are in Him. So, we can be thankful for even “not fun” circumstances.

Colossians 2:6-7 (NIV)says, “ So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness." Gratitude changes the picture in our lives. Even when we are saved we can revert back to the ways of the world. We are forgiven, but not joyous. Our whole perspective changes, when we find a way to thank God “in all things”. Our lives become motivated by thankfulness, not by guilt, or because we want to be a better goody-goody.

Kara Powell, from the Fuller Youth Institute says our lives should be “a thank you note to God.” Too many of us just stop with a 3G Gospel – Guilt is a motivator for helping us repent, but guilt is not a good motivator for living our life in faith and joy. Being a Goody-Goody has its rewards but they are cheap and fleeting and don’t allow you to joyfully serve God’s greater purpose. And grace is great, but grace must come full circle, it must be poured out of your life into the lives of others as an act of gratitude. God saved us to be a blessing by living thankfully.

Go ahead and get your spiritual upgrade. Get grateful. Go 4G!