And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?
– Luke 9:23-25 (ESV)
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
– Romans 12:1-2 (ESV)
When I think of lifestyle I think culture, at least that is how we will use this term in this discussion. We have a cost of living, we have certain expectations of providing for our needs (and maybe desires) and there are all kinds of things that play into it: clothes, cars, our occupation, our memberships, neighborhoods and friends. It is the things we do with our family, the hobbies that are so important to us and the expectation of the kind of life that we can leave them. We are constantly grinding through how to improve our lifestyle or protect what we have accomplished. We have dreams of our living in a country that espouses freedom and so that is saturated into our focus. The problem is that can be a weighty preoccupation and profoundly distracting to the way of life of God’s calling.
But when I think of my “way of life” I think more about discipleship and disciplemaking. None of the things mentioned above should hinder my way of life as a disciple who is firmly anchored to the eternal mission of making disciples. Making disciples is more like what Romans 12: 1-2 are talking about. We are to present ourselves to God as a living sacrifice which is our reasonable service or worship. Worship is never limited to singing songs on Sunday morning; it is a way we view our whole life in relationship to God. The whole scope of my entire life from beginning to end needs to consumed with being a living and holy sacrifice to God.
I am a disciple of Christ when I get up in the morning, when I go to the gym, go to work, talk with the neighbors or schedule a lunch appointment. I can only see and relate to the world authentically when I see that world through the eyes of Christ. I belong to Him, I am not my own and, like Paul, “it is no longer I who live but Christ that lives in me”. If I am fulfilling my calling to be a living and holy sacrifice it shapes my entire perspective of the world, why I exist, what my purpose is every day, what makes my life significant and what kind of difference I want to make through my life. I believe this is profoundly difficult for us to grasp; at least at times it is for me.
If I turn disciplemaking into a lifestyle (for the sake of this discussion) the danger is that there are only certain times when “I think and engage disciplemaking”. It might be serving in a church program or gathering on Sunday morning. It could be serving in a specific role or ministry and THAT is when I am doing my discipleship. We can easily say and look like we fit into that culture but we maybe spiritually disengaged the rest of the week as I get more preoccupied with my first world lifestyle. Instead of looking for how God can use me in every part of my journey and connections with people we turn on our spiritual mindset only when we are scheduled to be on task for Jesus. We need to work hard not to see being a disciple as something we simply schedule into my life rather than a way of life.
Sincerely in Christ, Pastor Brad.