Lifestyle Lifts | Fan or Follower?

3:11 PM

lifestyle lifts

I made a trip to my hometown this past weekend and was able to attend my hometown church. Like always, it never disappoints. My youth pastors, who are now leading English services delivered a powerful message, which added on to my list of lifestyle lifts.The message made us question whether we were fans or followers of Christ. This
message touched my heart in a special way, so I've decided to share one of the most heart warming lifestyle lifts I've ever had the pleasure of offering here on Cheryl Deni.

Now, before I get started, I want to be very clear. I am not writing this to bash on those who fall under the "fan" category. At one point or another, we were all part of the "fan" category. I don't believe being a fan is necessarily a bad thing, unless you're content remaining in that category. Christ calls us to be His followers, not just his fans, so we should strive for that continually on a daily basis. For many, like me for much of my life, we were brought up in the church never truly grasping a thorough understanding of the gospel and who our Father really is. Yes, we heard the typical stories of Adam and Eve and  Noah and the ark, but that hardly means we know who our God is. Do we know him like we know our earthly father? Do we talk to him like we talk to our parents here on earth? Can we even relate to Him at all?

So many like to think of God as some unimaginable, unreachable higher power. It's so difficult to personally relate to Christ because He walked the earth as a perfect man, yet there's no such thing in the real world. We think of heaven as a fantasy world of flying people with wings, and even if it is real, it won't be happening any time soon. Why do I need to accommodate my way of living and being to how the Bible tells me to live it now? Let's live life the way we want now and save the "getting right with God" for when I'm old and gray. Many of us also believe that if we follow Christ, we are guaranteed a happy life. While, this is true, there's a common misconception of how and what it means to live a happy life.

Truly understanding God and who He is entails a much more thorough and deeper understanding of the gospel. We come to realize that God, our Father, is a living Spirit living within us, not outside of us. We come to understand that the only way Christ was able to walk a sinless path was by living in and through God, the living Spirit, not by His own doing as so many of us try to do. We open our eyes to the reality that Heaven is not only a location in the skies above us, but a presence that can be fully experienced here in the now. Many are waiting for a later point in time to truly get serious about God. We are waiting for our time in heaven, where we will finally see God and experience eternal life with him. The sadness in this is that we are waiting for some fantasy world experience in the far distant future, when Christ enabled us through His grace to experience Heaven now. What then was the purpose of the shedding of Christ's blood? Was it not so we could completely and totally mend our bond with God, our Father, and be reconnected with Him as we were when we were first created? God offered us Heaven on Earth at the genesis of creation, and by the blood of Jesus Christ, that truth is once more. Because of sin, living in spirit in order to experience Heaven here on Earth is now a daily battle, but the reality is there, nonetheless. It's up to us to make our blessing a reality.

While many of us waste our precious time waiting for the right moment to "get right with God," others are busy blaming God for all that goes wrong in the world. Especially in today's modern generation, we have been raised with a sense of entitlement. We believe that going to church every Sunday, reading the Bible, and being good people overall will put us in God's good graces. While these are all good practices that come into play when you are truly living in the spirit, this is not the gospel. Our relationships with Christ have become work. Our relationship has turned into simply religious tasks to perform on the daily in order to secure our spots in heaven. We believe that if we are good people, God will look favorably upon us and reward us with happiness in riches, nice houses, good jobs, and luxury. If we are faithful to Him, nothing can possibly go wrong in the world. After all, we are servants of God, and God has to look after His people. What kind of a God is He if He doesn't give us what we want after being loyal to Him? This is all so far off from the gospel it's almost ridiculous to even try to explain.

There are numerous examples to use throughout the Bible and history that contradicts what society believes today, including Jesus Christ himself as a prime example, but I want to bring up Paul for a minute. The moment that Paul gave his life to Christ, he never experienced a good day of life on Earth again. He was tortured, beaten, and beheaded because of his faith. Still, he found happiness in his suffering.  "20 I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. 21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain." (Philippians 1:20-21) This is true gospel. At this point, Paul is imprisoned, and to any human being, it would be obvious that he appears to be in suffering. To Paul, however, it is all the contrary. He finds strength in Christ and Christ alone. To him, his situation doesn't affect him in the least. If he is alive, he is happy because he is exalting God's name through his body and suffering. If he dies, he is also happy, in his words even happier, because he is finally going to be with Christ. His struggles in life, no matter what they may be do not matter, because he knows that throughout all of it he is living God's will. There's no better place to be but in God's will. It's easy to follow Christ when everything is right in the world. People jump for joy and sit in the first row at church every Sunday when everything is right in the world, but it's also during the easy times that we seek God the least. True followers who truly understand who God is find happiness in their sufferings. After all, how does one know happiness until one experiences suffering? It's the silent heart that sits in a corner and reacts with patience and perseverance in Christ when faced with an obstacle that truly finds favor in God's eyes at the end of the day. God will take you places you do not want to go in order to truly experience His love and grace. As He told Peter in John 20:18, "Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go." It's in our sufferings that we develop spiritually, so be careful the next time you look upon your suffering as a curse because it may just be one of your biggest blessings in life.

How am I so comfortable in my faith? Simple. Faith is NOT religion. Faith has NOTHING to do with religion. On the contrary, religion is what drives many away from faith and experiencing true,enabling grace. Jesus Christ himself was not a Christian. Religion requires that you do this, be that, and say that. Faith is not as concrete and dull. Faith is spiritual and reviving. Faith is living in something other than yourself, living in Christ. You no longer think of yourself as a body, but as a spirit. Think of it. It's so much easier to imagine yourself joining together as One with Christ when you live in the spirit. You completely and totally die to yourself, while allowing Christ to consume you whole.

A relationship with Christ isn't built overnight. The same way we don't build relationships with our friends overnight. It takes time. However, we invest time in these relationships to experience happiness. Same thing here. Only you're building an everlasting relationship that will withstand the tests of time. Embrace the fact that everything in life is for God's glorification and His alone, and in turn we receive grace, wisdom, knowledge, meaning, and His everlasting love. We no longer stand apart from Him. We stand in Him, by Him, and with Him. Heaven is here. Now. Around us. In our relationships. In our workplaces. In our daily living. In our hearts. In our minds. In what we speak, feel, hear, and see. Don't miss out on Heaven now because you're waiting for something later. By then it may be too late. Grow out of your fan shell, and develop into a true follower for Christ.

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4 comments

  1. Love this Cheryl! I'm so blessed by this post :)

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    1. Beth, I'm so glad. That's the purpose of it all. Gods glorification always. It was a blessing to write it lol. See you soon.

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  2. this is so inspiring i can't even...thanks for sharing you make my mornings

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  3. I'm so happy to see how you're relationship with God has grown over your jounrey as a blogger :). i'm still trying.

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