OceanSide church of Christ
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THE SAME OLD, SAME OLD
Victor M. Eskew
Christianity is the final religion from God. It is the religion founded by the precious son of God, Jesus Christ. It is extremely valuable. In the parables, it is described as a “treasure hid in a field” (Matt. 13:44) and a “pearl of great price” (Matt. 13:45). Those who are part of Christianity should be filled with joy. They should be excited. They have a gift that is precious. Its application to their lives should be a priority and should ever be refreshing to them.
Sadly, many Christians view their Christian life and all that goes with it as “the same old, same old.” Their Christian lives do not bring them joy. The worship services of the church do not fill their hearts with excitement. In their minds, they see themselves doing the same thing over and over and over again with few benefits coming to their lives.
How does a person get out of “the same old, same old” mindset? How does one develop a feeling of joy deep within when it comes to Christian living? How does a person get beyond the dull, the lifeless, and the boring feelings about Christianity? The answers to these questions are available. The answers are not new. The answers are relatively simple. The key is to put the answers to these questions into practice. Until this is done, a person will trudge along the narrow way and never experience the type of life that Jesus came to give them. Listen to His words: “…I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly” (John 10:10).
In II Corinthians 5:14, Paul writes: “For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead.” Paul says that the love of Christ constrained him. The word “contraineth” means “to press together.” If you have ever canoed on a river, you have seen the word “constraineth” in action. On rivers, there are long stretches of slow moving water. Then, you come to the rapids. Here, the water flows fast and with tremendous force. Why? The water is being pressed together by rocks and boulders in the river. The water is being constrained. Paul said that it was the love of Christ was pressing upon him. This is one of the keys to vibrant living in Christ.
Every child of God needs to study the love of Christ as expressed upon the cross of Calvary. No greater love has ever been shown to each of us. Jesus exited Heaven. Jesus took the form of a man. Jesus voluntarily went to the cross. Jesus shed His blood. He paid the extreme penalty for our sins. He offers all of us the hope of Heaven and everlasting life. The events of the cross are long past. Many of the blessings of the cross are future. This is why so many fail to contemplate the enormity of what was done. Peter tell us: “Who his own self bare our sins in his body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed” (I Pet. 2:24). Dear readers, that was love. That was unselfish love. That was divine love. That was love for sinners, for enemies, and for the ungodly (Rom. 5:6-10). If we ever come to understand and appreciate the love of Christ, we, too, will be pressed. We will be constrained. The love of Christ will propel us in our Christian service just as it did the apostle Paul.
Another thing that we need to do to put joy and excitement into our Christian lives is to quit looking for all the negatives. We see these and then feel that we need to complain about them. There are no perfect people. There is no perfect preacher. There is no perfect eldership. There is no perfect song leader. There is no perfect teacher. There is no perfect congregation. We can always point to this or that, and say: “This is not good,” or “I do not like that,” or, “This needs to be improved.” When I think of complainers, I think of the Israelites who constantly complained about Moses in the wilderness. I think about the Jewish leaders of Paul’s day who were constantly complaining about the actions of Jesus. I think about Martha who complained about Mary as she sat at the feet of Jesus. I think about the group who complained about the woman who broke the alabaster box of ointment to anoint the body of Jesus. Yes, I think about all of these people, but I do not think of them in a positive light. If I want to think of someone in a positive way, I think of the apostle Paul. Listen to his words: “Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Phil. 4:11-13). Constantly seeing the negative and complaining never has made one person happy (See Phil. 2:14). Contentment brings joy. Things will never be perfect, but I can be thankful for what I have, and I can be content with these things as well.
A third action that one can take to bring joy and excitement to his Christianity is to invest himself into his spiritual well-being. The word “invest” means “to give, to devote” one’s self to something. We need to devote ourselves to being learned students of God’s Word (II Tim. 2:15). We need to excel in such a way that we become teachers of God’s Word (Heb. 4:11-14). We need to invest ourselves in our worship of the Almighty God (John 4:24). We need to put time and energy into becoming liberal givers to the cause of Christ (II Cor. 8:1-5). Each of us needs to invest in learning how to convert the lost (Prov. 11:30). We need to grow in such a way that we take a leadership role in the church (I Tim. 3:1). We need to invest in every aspect of our Christian life so we can be examples to others (I Cor. 11:1). Growth is one of the keys to experiencing a rich, healthy, and happy life as a Christian.
Within the church, people are looking for the wrong things to motivate them. They hope the preacher will say just the right word that will “fire them up.” They hope the elders will come up with a program that will “light their fire.” They hope for new families to become part of the church so they will “be encouraged.” They hope little changes made to the worship services, to Bible classes, or to on-going programs of the church will “get them interested” again.
What people need to realize is that joy and excitement begin within and manifest themselves in the right responses to the teachings of God’s Word. Christians must come to appreciate the love of Christ. We have to quit looking for all the negatives and complaining about them. We have to invest in our personal growth and participation in the body of Christ. Dear readers, when we do the right things, joy and excitement will fill our lives. We will wake up every day looking for opportunities to serve our Lord and Master.