If you are going to sow seeds for the kingdom, you have to embrace not just the ideals of a life in Christ but also the practical, day-to-day actions you should and should not take if you are truly walking the narrow path to the kingdom of Heaven.
The best place to go to find practical ways to apply God’s truth in your life is the Sermon on the Mount, where Jesus explains the Kingdom’s precepts and practices.
The practical matters of legacy are not exactly easy, which is why it is so important that we have the support of the Spirit in us to help us live in the light. For, Christ not only upholds the basic truths of the Old Testament law, He ups the ante on each of those truths.
Do not murder, He tells us, but also to hate is to do as much damage to one’s soul as to murder. Do not commit adultery, but to even lust after another is to commit adultery. Do not quarrel, but even seek forgiveness up to the point of turning your left cheek when your right cheek has been struck.
As I heard a preacher put it once, God sent His son to sacrifice Himself for us. Do we actually think He would expect less of us after that kind of giving?
Make no mistake. We don’t earn our salvation through our actions. Only by grace can we accept the belief in Christ’s resurrection that saves us. But once we accept that grace, our faith should compel us to want to grow in Christ.
Anyone who plays a musical instrument or a sport knows that there is no way to improve without consistent, disciplined practice over time. Even the most proficient musician still warms up with scales, the basic building blocks of music. And that proficient musician practices his/her art each and every day for several hours at a time.
Christianity has its basic building blocks as well, disciplines that those of us who limit our Christianity to church on Sunday quite frankly miss out on. Even people who approach their religion as a way of life need the daily, routine practice of the Christian “scales” in order to continue to grow in Christ.
What does this routine practice include? Again, look to the Sermon on the Mount. Do you pray every day, and not just the same prayer mumbled quickly before you go to sleep, but with your whole self, throwing your whole body into it? Have you ever fasted? Do you regularly reach out to those who do not believe? Do you have spiritual elders to whom you regularly report about your growth in Christ?
I am an academic. If I had chosen to stay in the college setting as an instructor, I could have easily fallen into the “ivory tower” trap of staying inside my head all the time, living in the world of ideas instead of the world of practical application. That’s a fancy way of saying that it is very easy for me to get caught up in my head instead of listening to what my body is telling me. Some days, it’s as if the two entities have never met.
In the past several years, I have been doing an exercise program that involves yoga, but not the kind of yoga that you are possibly thinking about. It isn’t a classroom filled with hot babes in skimpy clothes. It isn’t a torture chamber of hot temperatures. It certainly isn’t a metaphysical den of crystals and gongs.
Luckily for me, my yoga center is focused on the principles that help us understand how our minds and bodies work together to feel the energy that is all around us, the energy that makes up the planet, the energy we Christians know as the Holy Spirit.
Before yoga, I had prayed with my mind and my heart, but I had never prayed all the way to my fingertips. What I have also learned from yoga is that real change of any kind in our lives requires a commitment of our whole selves. With the guidance of a spiritual leader, such as the pastor at your church, you can learn the daily practices, actual things you need to do every day, that will help you meet your spiritual goals.
How many of us even have real, spiritual goals that we have committed to paper, much less to our hearts, when it comes to our service to God and our growth in the Spirit? Practical faith means practice.
As we have discovered over the past several weeks, legacy is not just a dreamy concept about what is left of us when we are no longer part of this planet. Legacy is about our partnership with God and making good on our faith in ways in which only He understands the potential impact.
Start putting the practice into practical this week. Maybe make part of your daily Bible study a re-read of the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7). And set down a list of daily actions you plan to begin for the next 21 days to reach a goal you have in Christ. Pray about it, share with fellow believers, and have faith that the Spirit will guide you where Christ would have you go. But go somewhere. No one leaves a legacy by merely standing still.