“A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” John 13:34-35
God has given us some very clear instructions in His Word as to how we are to live for Him. There is only one way to live this life to the fullest. There is one way to live this life that is best. It requires change in philosophy and a change in action. It demands a leaving of one’s pride and a despising of sin.
Although I have read where Christ echoes it through the Scriptures and read how Paul preached it…I still struggled. I struggle with my pride, myself and choices. The only way to live this life strong, and not be found weak, is to rely on Him who is strong. I must livestrong.
For some time I have known about the livestrong wristbands and the organization that Lance Armstrong sponsors that helps cancer victims & survivors. Many people wear the bands to support the cause and in the past I have bought them as well. But late last year while standing in a sports store staring at a livestrong banner the words “livestrong” grabbed my attention.
Livestrong is a statement, slogan and a catchphrase that embodies an wonderful organization, an athlete and NIKE brand products. Selling of the wristbands helps the organization with donations, shows loyalty to the athlete and creates a positive image for the NIKE brand. But does defeating cancer really mean you are livestrong? Does winning several sporting events evidence you are livestrong? While you may be headstrong with mental & heart determiniation to continue on through advserity thru cancer or a sporting event…you still lose the game of life. How? Because “life is a vapor…it is short lived.”
The only way to truly livestrong…is to follow the advice and directions of the only person that truly conquered life – Jesus.
Jesus’ message was clear: Loving God, loving people and loving life.
How do we do this today? That has been my personal aspiration & spiritual goal/journey this year thru Bible reading, praying, studying, reading and living. The answer is clear in scripture and the application is incredible.
- Loving God
We must love God with all our heart, all our mind and all our might. This means that every fiber of my being must love God. This is everything about me. My likes, my body, my mind, my hobbies, my thought life, my social life, sports, recreation, family, work, money, reputation, etc. This takes work and is not achieved overnight.
It is not that you love God more than “________”, but that your love to God is so great that all else fails in comparison.
- Loving People
Christ cared for people that rejected Him and His message. Christ helped people, healed people, fed people, loved people that in the end would reject Him and His message. This means that Christ loved even the ugly. Christ also loved the mean, the hypocritical, the wicked, the adulteress, the sinners, the cast out, etc. The list could go on and on of Christ’ “love for the ungodly” as Paul put it.
If I only care for those that agree with me, kind to me, or that are like me…I am not Christlike… I am a pharisee.
- Loving Life
Christ sacrificed everything, left Heaven, became a child, lived this life & died a cruel death for my life. I have heard preached and have seen lived the false truth that we should despise life, despise culture and reject everything around us. This is wrong. Christ came into this world and wore clothing of the people, listened to music of the people, went where the people went, partied where the people partied and hung out with those that needed Him most. Christ did not hide in a “greenhouse” or “lofty temple” but rather engaged culture so much so that the pharisees called Him a drunkard and a sinner because that was the crowd Jesus was with. Love life, live life, do good, help others, be like Christ…not others.
If you fail to get your hands dirty…you will never appreciate cleanliness that only comes from God.
How this has changed me and affected my life is many more pages and is still ongoing as I am still learning. But as I cross the halfway point this year, here is my short address on my own personal growth.
Attitude Change. Quite simply it has changed my attitude towards people: I love sinners and get annoyed with religious people now. It used to be the other way around. It’s not that I love sin, that is incorrect, but I care more the “dirty” guy that doesn’t know Jesus than the “know-it-all” guy that wants to argue theology by posting angry comments on my blog. It doesn’t mean that I hate people, but like Christ…I do not have time for “useless and vain babbling” from “white walled sepulchers” i.e. hypocrites. It truly comes down to me saying “that Christ matters more to me than what other religious people think of me.”
Spiritual Change. More Bible, more prayer, more theological reading, more studying, more learning, more accountability, more Godly peers, more time with God, more reflection, more meditation. Less Jon, less stuff, less pride, less me-time, less tv, less downtime, less reliance, less religion, less over-indulgences, less games, less “just ok” and much more “great”.
Physical Change. Body over mind is easier said than done. I have always considered myself a very disciplined person, but in one area of my life over that last few years I let it slide. I have preached hard, counseled long hours and worked diligently to jumpstart this church plant…but I had developed bad sleeping habits, poor eating habits and had little exercise. Added weight and poor health followed. I would preach on Sundays and it wouldn’t be until Monday night that I would recover. Something had to change. I started last year working out 3-4 times a week and then jumped into the weight room last fall. Over the last 9 months I have gone from 315 pounds to 275. I have lost 4 waist sizes and am still getting stronger. I jog 5 days a week and workout 4 days a week. My strength has grown tremendously and I have seen my sleep patterns improve and my stamina is tremendous. I am excited to see where I will be at physically in December. During my workouts I have been listening to Lecrae and to preaching cds & theological lectures. Needless to say, I now enjoy working out each morning.
Livestrong has new meaning to me. Each morning I get up and see the yellow band staring back at me. It is a great reminder that without Christ I live”weak” but with Christ…LIVESTRONG.
let the redeemed speak louder,
Jon Jackson, Lead & Preaching Pastor – Northwest Baptist Church – http://www.nbcfh.org – firstname.lastname@example.org – twitter.com/jonjackson – facebook.com/pastorjonjackson – 23845 Middlebelt Rd. Farmington Hills, MI 48336