Title: Enjoy The Christian Life.
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The word “enjoy” when used as found in the topic of today’s discussion is a verb and it means, to take pleasure or delight in something. “Pleasure” or “delight” are synonyms which will both mean having a feeling of happiness and satisfaction. When therefore, the topic of today’s discussion is considered, it will mean a phrase encouraging the individual who is a Christian to have a feeling of happiness and satisfaction with the kind of life that Christianity prescribes.
The word “Christian” in the world today may be one used to describe an individual that has accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and thus has chosen to live a life dictated by his instructions and principles. However, the deeper meaning of the word will be someone who is already living a life that is comparable to that which Jesus Christ lived while on earth. The fact that someone has professed and accepted Christ as Lord and Savior would not be sufficient for such to be referred to as a Christian but the lifestyle of such is what will make onlookers describe such as a Christian, after all that is the origin of the word as found in the scriptures – Acts 11:19-30; Matt. 5:16-18.
Lifestyle is a word used to describe the manner in which someone has chosen to live his/her life. It is a matter of choice which can be maintained or changed once the individual Wills to do so. Jesus Christ had a way in which he lived when he was on earth and the model is as revealed in the synoptic gospels of the New Testament section of the Bible. He had a prescription for practically every aspect of life as he probably spent every minute of his entire life demonstrating and teaching, to let all that care to listen know what his concept of every aspect of life is all about. There is hardly any part of life that his view on how the one that has chosen to be called a Christian is not expressed.
Although his entire lifetime, starting from the manner of his birth to the reason of his death and his submission to the Will of the father in death, was a demonstration of how he wants those who claim to be his followers to live, they were not acts that were entirely his but were a reflection of the Will of Jehovah, who is his father and expectedly the father of all who claim to be Christians – Jn. 5:19; 30; 8:28; 12:49. That lifestyle of his can best be described as a life of sweetness and bitterness. Characterised mostly by self sufficiency in worldly requirements, despite the fact that he was not known to have a personal business of his own (Jn. 12:6), and hatred and witch-hunting from antagonists of his choice of living who happened to be mostly those who ordinarily, would have been expected to be his supporters. It was characterized by the ability to live a life of spiritual freedom from bondages of negative powers and even above some of the laws that his compatriots thought were sacrosanct (Mk. 2:23-28), but was still weighed down by the forceful and deceitful attempts by these same people to apply those Mosaic laws that could only make the Christian lifestyle seem more of spiritual imprisonment and bondage than freedom – Jn. 5:1-18. This is despite his declaration that he whom the son of man sets free is free indeed – Jn. 8:36.
Most of the emphasis on these Mosaic laws been made by these people was not because they observed them but because it became a convenient tool that could be used to oppress the people and make the Christian life a burden and a regulated one according to their own interpretation. Like Jesus Christ himself described them, they say something completely different from what they do – Matt. 23:1-12.
The one that truly wants to live and enjoy the Christian life must relate with the Word day and night and seek direct interpretation of its contents, as it relates to his/her life, during meditation. It will be impossible to know a guiding principle that has never been read or heard of, just as it will be difficult to understand how it applies to one’s life without the effective interpretation of such as it relates to individual lives. Attempting to apply the Word on a universal basis is one of the several reasons why it becomes a big burden for those who desire to live such lifestyle. The following are few examples indicating the adaption of every law to individual lives and situations in order to avoid the Christian lifestyle becoming a burden. Although the Almighty God frowns at lying, He it was that encouraged the Israelites to collect ornaments from the Egyptians on their way out of Egypt by deception but this will never be a reason for anyone to justify deception as that was specific to the Israelites so that they may have comfort in a specific area of their life – Exo. 3:22; 12:36. Unclean things were not supposed to be eaten by anyone who has taken a decision to follow Jesus Christ and by implication the Almighty God (Lev. 11:1-47; 20:25), and that remains so till eternity, but He it was that instructed Peter to rise, kill and eat the numerous unclean things that was placed before him – Acts 10:10-15. According to the scripture, an exception will be made if He has chosen to sanctify any unclean thing, thus declaring it clean. That is not a norm but it will only remain an inconvenience when it is the Will of God that an individual should eat such for some reason and the individual chooses to do otherwise. The disciples chose to satisfy their hunger on a Sabbath day by plucking corn to eat whilst waking through a corn farm, an act that was met with condemnation by the Pharisees but his defense of that act was that the law was made for man and not man for law, citing the case of David who ate the Bread of Presence that was to be eaten only by Priests – Mk 2:23-28.
As much as these and other examples in the scriptures should not be the liberty for anyone to do same without control, one can only imagine what level of inconvenience the beneficiaries of such dispensed Grace would have gone through without such timely and divine exemptions.
Christians need to understand that the laws of God are constant and settled forever but like all laws, its application is dependent on the law-giver and how He wants to implement those laws as He can, and thus grants exemptions to different people under different conditions, in a manner that can be described as dispensing Grace. Some Christians today want to apply the Christian principles in a manner that the faction of the Disciples did, who insisted that every new convert MUST be circumcised as stated in the law and until that is done, such cannot be considered a true Christian whereas some are wise enough to know that exemptions can still be made to accommodate such people just like the decision the Apostles arrived at, at the Council in Jerusalem, after several days of deliberations and levels of consultations. It is all about comfort with guidance of the Holy Spirit. On that occasion, it was decided that such converts should be allowed to remain uncircumcised as long as they avoided the eating of blood and animals sacrificed to idols – Acts 15:1-35.
Christians must continue to teach the undiluted instructions of the Almighty God which was further emphasised by His son Jesus Christ, who made it clear that he did not come to abolish the law but to fulfil it (Matt. 5:17), but must realise that for reasons of individual comfort, the law giver may decide to give exemptions which may not be known to anyone except the one with the exemption. These exemptions are given by the Almighty God and revealed to men under the guidance of the Holy Spirit to avoid the situation where the Christian lifestyle becomes a burden. The true Christian by choice made should find him/her self in His presence at all times and thus be full of joy – Psa. 16:11. The absence of joy may be indicative of not being in his presence or a deceitful life of claiming to be a Christian when such is not.
Yes! It is possible for an individual to make deceitful claims that he/she received instructions from the Lord to do contrary to known scriptural norms, but that should not be the reason to risk the possibility of such claims being right and such a person finding him/her self being confrontational with the Lord. Some people who lived in the time of Jesus and even now do not believe all his claims that he has exemptions but that has not changed the truth about his claims. If anything, it has only put such people in the line of receiving punishment from the Lord. Why try to be the judge of someone who you think has run foul of a law that you did not give? – Jms. 4:12. It may be better to play safe by limiting yourself to what your role is which is to make such laws known to all people and let everyone choose to practice what he/she wishes – Gen. 3:22. Even Jesus Christ will not want the tares separated from the wheat until the day of harvest – Matt. 13:24-30. That should also be your practice as a Christian if indeed your life is guided by his principles and instructions.
Be aware of what the instructions of the Almighty God are, as emphasised by His son, but with the help of the Holy Spirit, live honestly and according to His dictate for your life and not the supposed standard as interpreted by men who themselves may not be living their lives with such principles but like the Pharisees, like to preach and impose such standards. That remains your only solution to enjoying your Christian lifestyle. The Christian lifestyle is indeed one that brings great pleasure and happiness for the Christian. The one who is not comfortable living with such principles especially as customised by the Holy Spirit is indeed not a Christian.