Have you ever considered what lifestyle you live?
For instance, if you have some kids in sports, you may live the “sports” lifestyle – weekends and nights at the fields, t-shirts, and uniform kits, fundraiser planning, and camps that promise the latest competitive edge - these all might dictate your budget, schedule, and relationships. You might not find yourself in the sports way of life, but you have a way of life. Everyone does. It could be the professional, financial, mechanic’s, or even a farming way of life. All of these come stock full of things to read, schedules to keep, and people who keep you company.
You do have a way of life – what is it?
Finding a lifestyle was very important for the first Christians as well. Before they were known as Christians, they were referred to as “Followers of The Way” Acts 22. For them, they were trying to orient the essential elements of their life around Jesus. The way of life for them was the Jesus way.
In fact, this is what they knew to be “eternal life.” Look at how Jesus describes it in his prayer:
And this is the way to have eternal life—to know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, the one you sent to earth. - John 17:3
For them following Jesus wasn’t just about going to heaven when you die; it was about a particular way of being in the world – a way to live out their true humanity. It wasn’t about somehow going to heaven but somehow bringing heaven here.
For Jesus, eternal life was something you didn’t have to wait for. You could be living the eternal type of life right now, today.
The question is really a simple one – are you living the eternal lifestyle for spiritual growth? The way of life that Jesus said was possible to live right here in the midst of this one?
Well, the good news is that these same first Christians gave us a few ways to engage this way of life Acts 2.24-27.
They weren’t checkboxes to check or laws to abide by – they were pathways led to experiencing the lifestyle and spiritual growth Jesus said was possible.
First, you Gather to worship
Gathering weekly with other followers of Jesus helps you remember the answer to the question, “Who is Jesus to you?” When you take time to consistently talk to God and hear from God, you will find yourself remembering that Jesus is Lord and Savior – that is, he’s your king. King of your life – king of your heart.
Look at how Paul describes this to the Colossians:
For God in all his fullness was pleased to live in Christ, and through him God reconciled everything to himself. He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth by means of Christ’s blood on the cross. This includes you who were once far away from God. You were his enemies, separated from him by your evil thoughts and actions. Yet now he has reconciled you to himself through the death of Christ in his physical body. As a result, he has brought you into his own presence, and you are holy and blameless as you stand before him without a single fault. - Colossians 1:19-22
Second, you Connect with others beyond the weekend
Connecting means building a relationship with other followers of Jesus outside of a weekend gathering. The reason you do this has scientific levels – you were designed by God to be in community with other people. Sometimes our experiences in life can leave us becoming codependent or counter-dependent, but you were created for healthy interdependence with others. We need each other’s help to live out the way of Jesus.
Hebrews encourages us to do this:
Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. - Hebrews 10:23-25
Third, you Serve on a team that needs your gifts
Jesus himself said he came to serve, not to be served. For Jesus, serving was not just something he did; it is who he is – it engaged his entire being and was the center point of his mission. What are you passionate about? Do you have a special skill or gift you could use to engage in the spiritual growth of yourself and those around you?
Jesus explains this clearly:
“You know that the rulers in this world lord it over their people, and officials flaunt their authority over those under them. But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant… For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.” - Matthew 20:26-28
Fourth, you Get Out, contribute to your community and point people towards spiritual growth in Jesus
Getting out is a simple yet profound reminder that we must stay involved in the communities that we live in. This is not only because our community is a great place to serve but is full of people who don’t know Jesus yet. Getting out is intentionally engaging a realm of your community to be the hands and feet of Jesus to people who don’t know him yet. Jesus did not try to sort us out from heaven – he came down into the world, walked with us, talked with us, ate with us, and laughed with us.
Jesus is our example:
Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross. - Philippians 2:16-18
Fifth, you Live Generously, knowing all you have been given is from God
All of the other four ways to engage our faith are more difficult if we don’t have a generous disposition to our resources. In fact, one of the largest threats to Jesus’ way of life is allegiance to money. Honestly, one of the simplest ways to begin engaging in spiritual growth is to realize that God has given you everything you have to provide for you and for you to participate in his mission of restoring all things. Simply put, God has given your finances to you and has asked you to steward them in a way that glorifies him.
Jesus gets right to the heart of the matter:
“No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and be enslaved to money. - Matthew 6:24
Remember, these aren’t checkboxes as if you are under pressure to please God. In fact, God is already pleased with you, for you, he loves you, and even likes you! These are simply five ways to engage in a life of spiritual growth oriented around Jesus - the Jesus lifestyle - a life where eternity starts today.
Consider, though, what is your next step of spiritual growth towards living the way of Jesus? Today, we challenge you to pick one of these ways to start or continue to orient your life around Jesus.
Some questions that might help:
How can I schedule my family’s weekend in order to attend one gathering?
What group will help me grow in this life of spiritual growth?
Do I know what my passions and skills are so I can serve my location?
Do I worship with my resources by giving a tithe to his church?
What way can you participate in your community?
If you begin to engage honestly with one of these today, you’ll begin to see the spiritual growth and lifestyle we can have today because we can know Jesus.