There are two main modes of thought when it comes to how to live. The first mode of thought comes from the world. If you listen to the world, it’ll tell you to ‘live for you’. It’ll encourage you to be true to yourself and be honest with who you are. The problem with the advice ‘live for you’ can be summed up with the question ‘who are you?’ The second mode of thought comes from religion. If you listen to religion, it’ll tell you to ‘live for God’. If you are a Christian, you’ll be specifically encouraged to ‘live for Jesus’.
Is there a problem with trying to live for Jesus? You better believe it. How can you and I live for a perfect and sinless savior? The simple answer is that we cannot. Try as hard as we might, we fall short of living up to the standards of Jesus (God). In fact, the only person who can live for Jesus is Jesus. Thus to try to live for Jesus is to set yourself up for a life of wondering if you are doing enough, a life of performance anxiety, a life of fear and doubt, and a life of endless striving to be good. It is a life of law keeping – a life of bondage.
Light-bulb moment: If you find no peace in your christian walk and you feel shackled as a christian, it is likely that you are trying to live for Jesus.
The good news is this: God does not want us to live for Him, He wants to live for us! If you don’t believe me, perhaps you’ll believe the Holy Scriptures.
I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me – Galatians 2:20
The scripture above says ‘I no longer live’. If we are no longer alive, how can we live for anyone? Moreover, if we are dead, then someone has to live in place of us. That person who is supposed to live for us is Christ.
Since God is not a control freak, He will only live for us if we allow Him to do so. Now if you are like me, the only way I’d allow someone to take my place in anything is if (1) that person is better than I am (2) that person is worthy (3) I have faith (trust and believe in that person). I’d say Christ fits that billing extraordinarily well.
Light-bulb moment: The only way Christ can live for us if for us to surrender in faith
Why allow Christ to live for us rather than try to live for him? Here are 8 good reasons:
- Living for Jesus involves works and requires a lot of effort, but allowing Jesus to live for us involves faith because only our surrender is required.
- Living for Jesus leads to anxiety, but Jesus living for us leads to peace.
- Living for Jesus leads to condemnation unto despair, but Jesus living for us leads to conviction unto repentance.
- Living for Jesus leads us to keep up appearances, but Jesus living for us leads to transparency.
- Living for Jesus leads us to be depressed about who we are not, but Jesus living for us leads us to be confident about who He is and who we are in Him no matter our shortcomings.
- Living for Jesus leads us to shy away from God when we get it wrong, but Jesus living for us leads us to move towards God when we get it wrong.
- Living for Jesus leads to fear and doubt, but Jesus living for us leads to faith and love
- Living for Jesus comes out of religion, but Jesus living for us comes out of relationship (intimacy).
Story of Job
Job was a man who tried to ‘live for God’. By all intents and purposes he succeeded in doing just that. In fact he was blameless when it came to living for God. Yet, his life was filled with fear. He would quickly go and make penance for his children after parties out of fear (Job 1:5). He also feared that he was going to lose all he had (Job 3:25).
In due time he found out that religion could not sustain him. After losing everything, he came to the realization that he had only ‘known about God’ (religion) instead of knowing God (relationship) (see Job 42:5). The turnaround for him came after he realized that he could trust God and that there was nothing that God could not turn around (Job 42:1). Once he surrendered to God in his heart fully, he not only regained all that he had lost but got a double portion of what was lost.
Light-bulb moment: Even if you are doing a great job living for Jesus (obeying the law), the glory of living for Jesus pales in comparison with glory of Jesus living for you.
But if the ministry of death, written and engraved on stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of the glory of his countenance, which glory was passing away, how will the ministry of the Spirit not be more glorious? For if the ministry of condemnation had glory, the ministry of righteousness exceeds much more in glory. For even what was made glorious had no glory in this respect, because of the glory that excels. For if what is passing away was glorious, what remains is much more glorious – 2 Corinthians 3:7-11
If we are to see the manifestation of the glory of God in our midst, we have to stop trying to live for Jesus and we have to allow Jesus to live for us. We have to move beyond religion and move into intimacy. I speak to myself.