As a Christian, it’s easy to develop habits of spirituality and yet still miss what Jesus came to do.
We fill our lives with a bunch of Christian things like church, Bible studies, small groups, and all the other church events. Yet, we aren’t any closer to Jesus.
The difficult thing about it is that we might not even realize our lives becomes filled with “Christian” things instead becoming full of Jesus. Christianity becomes like a club that we’re a part of. And it misleads us into thinking we have become more like Jesus.
I imagine every Christian would agree that this is a tragedy. How can we go through life claiming to be followers of Jesus and still lose sight of what Jesus really came to do? We trade his power and glory for the security of saying we did all the Jesus things. But is Jesus really a part of it?
None of us want to be in this place. But even harder than being in this place is admitting we are in this place.
Here are a 4 questions we can ask ourselves to gauge if we are on the road of becoming secure in the things of Jesus and not Jesus himself. It’s important to be honest with yourself when asking these questions. And trust me, that’s not always easy.
1. What do your prayers sound like?
I recently heard a message on prayer where the pastor asked if my prayers were gospel-centered. Of course, my initial thought was “YES.” But as the pastor began to describe the difference between self-centered and gospel-centered prayers, I quickly began to realize my prayers are far more self-centered.
The difference between gospel-centered prayers and self-centered prayers is their focus. If our prayers sound a lot like us asking God to protect us, provide for us, or strengthen us through our current life situation–and if these requests are ends unto themselves–then we are most likely praying self-centered prayers.
Of course, we can and should pray for these things. Because God cares about us. But our faith is not simply self-serving.
Here’s a look at one of the apostle Paul’s prayers for a church in a city called Philippi.
And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God. (Philippians 1:9-10)
Paul’s prayer isn’t for himself, but for the church of Philippi. And this prayer isn’t about the protection and security of the church. It’s far more about their lives in Jesus. He’s far more concerned with the gospel transforming their lives than anything else.
These are the kinds of prayers that we need to have for our families, our friends, our churches, and our own lives. Our prayers need to be far more gospel-centered and far less self-centered.
Again, I’m not saying it is bad to pray about the needs of your life. In fact, God tells us we should come to him with all things. But if this is the only conversation we are having with God, then maybe we are not as focused on Jesus and what he came to do as we think.
If our prayers sound a lot like us asking God to protect us, provide for us, or strengthen us through our current life situation–and if these requests are ends unto themselves–then we are most likely praying self-centered prayers. Click To Tweet
2. What current sin are you struggling with?
Part of the sanctification process is Jesus working in our lives and hearts to make us more like him. He was sinless and blameless. The more we walk with Jesus the more we see the work of sanctification in us.
Our goal is that those sins that we once struggled with no longer tempt us in the slightest. This is a gift from Jesus. He is powerful to transform us to the very core of who we are.
But we must live cautiously to never grow arrogant in our sanctification. When what we deem as ‘large’ sins are removed from our lives, we might not see the ‘little’ ones as anything to worry about. Instead, we turn around and see the ‘large’ sins in everyone else’s life. It becomes far too easy to view your present state of sanctification as if you’ve arrived.
When it comes to our sin, we should see it for what it is–sin. Whether it’s big or small. We’re all struggling and in desperate need of a Savior.
Recognizing the sin in your life is important, because it means you are continuously in desperate need of Jesus.
3. Are people more familiar with what your faith is against or what it’s for?
Growing in the knowledge and truth of God is a true blessing. As your eyes are being open and truth is being revealed, you think, How did I ever live another way? We begin to see the world for what it really is and how far it has drifted away from God’s intentions. This is the work of Christ in your life. And that is a beautiful thing.
But we must be cautious in how we declare these truths. Of course, we should never waiver on the truth. But if the only thing we ever do is point out how people are not living the way they’re supposed to, then we’ve missed it. Jesus constantly talks about sharing the truth in love.
As Christians, our goal should not be to educate the world on everything they’re doing wrong. That’s not Jesus. Our desire should be to point them to Jesus through our faith.
If non-Christians are far more aware of all the things your faith doesn’t agree with than the purpose God has given you, then maybe we are missing the mission Jesus sent us on.
4. What has God done in your life recently?
Often times this question is answered with a story about how God saved your life. Which is always going to be a good answer. But it’s not the only answer. The moment you put your faith in Jesus is not the sum total of everything Jesus has done or will do in your life.
When we are seeking Jesus, he is constantly at work in our lives. He transforms us daily, leaving us better than when he found us.
Our answer to this question shouldn’t require us to dust off the shelves of stories from years long gone. It should be met with what God is doing in your life now. You should be able to share something clear in your life that God has done recently.
It’s wonderful that God saved you twenties years ago. But he didn’t stop working in your life at that point. Our faith begins to grow richer when we can actively recognize what God is doing in our lives now. And a lot of that goes back to remembering you haven’t arrived.
God’s not done with you yet.