Before reading further, take a blank piece of paper and write a brief description of the Christian life. Alternately, write what you would teach a new Christian about the Christian life.
A Relationship with God
What did you write? Was the exercise difficult? If you are working through this material in a group, take time to share and discuss your answers. Please don’t judge anyone’s answers, but look at the variety of responses you receive and discuss their value.
I’ve found many Christians describe their Christian life in one of two ways. Some of us list the different activities in which we engage like prayer, Bible study, fellowship, service, evangelism, etc. Others mention the changes we experience as a result of Jesus’ work such as forgiveness, freedom from sin, the fruit of the Spirit, etc. While these are all true statements, the Christian life is much more than the sum of all these descriptions.
Read John 17:3 which is near the beginning of Jesus’ prayer the evening before his crucifixion. Consider how Jesus describes eternal life in this verse?
The Christian life at its core is a relationship with God through Jesus, ministered to us by the Holy Spirit. Relationships are far too rich and dynamic to be described either by the things we do as part of the relationship or the ways the relationship enriches our life. The Christian life is not the total of our activities any more than our families are defined by what we do each day. While such details are incredibly important, they only obtain value in the context of our relationship with the Lord. John 17:3 provides us with God’s all-embracing description of life. This relationship encompasses everything we say, do, think, feel and are.
God offers us this relationship with himself because he loves us. You are most likely familiar with John 3:16 where we learn that God’s love was the reason Jesus came to save us. He alone understands life and tells us how to conduct ourselves in order to experience this life. We receive love from the Lord and thus are able to love him in return. As we love him we are able to love others as he does. This idea is summed up in what Jesus refers to as the two greatest commandments. Read Mark 12:29-31.
Once we begin to live in the Lord’s love, we realize that every individual needs this same relationship. We are moved to share this with others. To ensure we did not miss the point, Jesus tells us to bring others into this relationship with the Lord in what we call the great commission. Read Matthew 28:18-20. That is, the two great commandments lead us to the great commission.
Since the Great Commandments and the Great Commission are at the heart of our relationship with God I call this the 3GC life. See the following illustration.
What this means
Why am I stressing what may seem obvious? I do this because the way we view and understand our Christian life determines how we approach our faith and the rest of life. If we perceive the Christian life as only a group of activities, then it is possible for us to have Christian activities and activities that are not Christian. If we think of the Christian life as only the ways we change, then we run the risk of seeing our faith only in how it affects ourselves and ignore the rest of the world. When we view all of life as rising from our relationship with God we are less likely to miss living in the full life God provides and desires for us.
Consider / Discuss:
- How does the entire Christian life fit into this viewpoint?
- How does our life and view of life change as a result?
- How does this understanding impact our approach to Christian training and study?
As you live, in each thing you do, remind yourself that this is dependent on and an expression of your relationship with God. Try this as you wake in the morning, before activities during the day, when you play, as you rest at night, etc.