Lately, I've been thinking more and more about what differentiates the Christian life from another. I've come across three factors thus far:
First, Jesus. This is the answer to every Sunday school question ever asked, and remains, to this day, the answer to the majority of questions Christians ask ourselves as adults, although perhaps in a more subtle way.
Second, the body of Christ. God made you and me just the way we are so that our strengths can build up
other members of the church, and He made other members of the church to
help bear with, smooth, and wear away at our own imperfections. As separate individuals, we are nothing but simple twiggy body parts, unable to function, survive, thrive, love, play, cry, laugh and do and be everything a body should do and be. We are all broken, but together, we make an ever so beautiful mess, one that takes the jagged edges of one and fits them with the jagged edges of another, and fills in the broken tile pieces with a bit of the first ingredient: Jesus (see, still the answer). All of us are here for a purpose.
And third, the church is a body meant for love. Love for God - who is both truth and love itself perfected - and love for others - God's imperfect but cherished children who are here with an immense purpose that they do not yet know. This might seem extremely simple, but let me affirm that it is perhaps the most challenging character arrangement for the Christian of all. We live in a culture built on success, one where status, income, and "success" mean everything. It's how we value each other, in this "meritocracy" of sorts. And the church brings this same arrangement to our own faith. We think people who are "good," who follow all the rules, that they know their stuff, that they are more important than the others. We take the standard of Christ and replace it with a comparison against what other people are doing and how much better we are. It's like we've all gone deaf and blind, and missed the whole point of the cross!! It is to show us that no one is better than another - that we are all sinners, that we all fall short of the glory of God, that it can never be earned. We are not God, we cannot earn our own salvation - if this is what we attempt, then we in essence are attempting to become our own little gods. And it's not healthy, it's not fun, it's not what God calls us to. We are called to love - that is it. To love God, with all our heart, soul, mind and strength - or with such passion that every ounce of our being yearns to look more like Him, to glorify Him, to make Him happy and bring him honour - and to love others as we love ourselves - in an active pursuit and loving-kindness that looks on another and recognizes them as a brother and.or sister in Christ. Of same worth and value, who can challenge you and change you and who needs equal encouragement and challenging themselves. And this is a beautiful beautiful thing when it sees the light of day.
Let's meditate on 1 Corinthians 13 - memorize it, learn it, know it, live it.