This is My Life

By Dave

Associated Ideas: Because this is my life, I'm responsible to maintain it and live it for Jesus (and I'm a failure as a Christian if I can't)

All of us have been taught, in one form or another, that it is our responsibility for the welfare of our own lives. We have either been challenged to improve our lives, being praised and awarded for our "successes", or we've been convinced that we are to blame for the flaws and shortcomings in them. We're taught that "You are responsible for your destiny," "Life is what you make it to be," "God helps those who help themselves," "Look out for number one," "You must make something out of yourself," etc. In my family, the expression used was, "You make your bed, you lie in it." The message we get is that we are responsible to shape the results and experiences in our lives, and that we deserve approval or blame accordingly.

The Oxford English Dictionary defines the term 'success' as "the accomplishment of an aim; a favorable outcome". Certainly, we want our lives to be successful in that sense. But what is it that we should be aiming for, and Who is really responsible for the outcome? The definition of a "successful" life varies from culture to culture or from household to household, but generally it means, "conformed to the image of the influential people or society around you". For those who have not surrendered to the Lordship of Jesus Christ and been "born again", there can be no other definition. There is no other measure of "success", and no other person who can take responsibility for an individual's life. However, the idea that we, as Christians, are responsible for our lives has become so ingrained in the fabric of the Church that most of us react violently to the idea that we aren't. While we do have a responsibility before God for the decisions we make as believers (which we will discuss later), the underlying belief that we are responsible for the maintenance of our own lives can be a serious stumbling block in the life of the Christian. Let's not forget that the fundamental sin of Adam involved taking charge of his own life, taking the responsibility for it out of God's hands and assuming it himself.

The power in this lie is rooted in the fact that, because Adam's sin separated us from God, the unsaved man is responsible for his own life. Every human being will give an account of his/her life to God (Romans 14:12). Traditionally, our understanding of that verse of Scripture has been that each of us will stand before the judgement seat of Christ and answer for what we have done, being either rewarded or punished accordingly. Certainly for the unbeliever, that will be the case, as those who have not received Jesus as savior will be judged according to the law (Romans 2:12). However, for the believer, we have been forgiven for our inability to live up to the requirements of the law, and our judgement will rest not on what we have done, but on whom we have served. In other words, the ultimate question we will be asked concerning our lives will not be, "What did you do with it?" but "Who was lord over it?". Read the following verses carefully:

Matthew 7:17-23 (KJV) Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. (Jesus speaking)

It is intriguing to realize that we equate "fruit" with "works". In other words, our concept of "bringing forth good fruit" is usually based on the good works that we see produced by others and ourselves. Our traditional way of viewing the "faith" walk sounds something like this: "Now that I have received the Lord by faith, I must demonstrate that faith by doing good things. After all, faith without works is dead (James 2:17-26), and the will of God is for me to produce good works (Ephesians 2:10). Therefore, it is my responsibility to determine what good works God wants me to accomplish, and to apply my life to completing those goals." Notice, however, that in the passage from Matthew 7 above, Jesus addressed both the good works that people had done in His name and the fact that those individuals addressed Him as "Lord". Jesus, however, in spite of the "good works" that were done and the title "Lord" given Him, said that He would command them to depart because, "I never knew you...". Is it really the will of God for me to produce good works, or is it His will for me to know His Son? Sometimes we confuse the plan of God (to produce good works through His people) with the will of God (to abide in intimate fellowship with Him).

If we read more carefully Ephesians 2:10, we might notice that the Lord did not say that we were to go out and do good works. If we live our lives trying to "help God" accomplish what we think He wants, we run the very real risk of falling into the same trap that snared Abraham, and we'll create an "Ishmael". What He did say was that we should walk in them - the works that He already prepared. In other words, as we surrender our lives to the plan and purpose that He chose for us from before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4) and walk in it, Christ in us, our hope of glory (Colossians 1:27) will do through us the works He intends. In other words, our walk is intended to be a life of surrender to Him, a losing of our own life to gain His (see Matthew 16:25, Mark 8:35, Luke 9:24, John 12:25), not a life of doing good works for Him.

The mindset that believes, "This is my life" undermines the rightful Lordship of Jesus Christ. The mystery is "Christ in you, the hope of glory" (Colossians 1:27). I reiterate - it is Jesus working through me as I live this life in Him, not me working for Him.

Perhaps the most telling verse of all for debunking the myth that "this is my life" is 1 Corinthians 6:19. It says, "do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?" How can we continue to live as though we are the owners of our lives, when the Scriptures are so clear?