What the Christian Life Should Really Look Like...
Have you ever wondered what the Christian life should really look like?
Pastor Ryan Rice, Head Pastor of North Valley Community Church, addressed that important issue in his sermon this past Sunday.
Speaking from the famous passage in Matthew 14 in which Jesus calls Simon Peter to cross the rough water, Rice laid out the reasons why difficult steps of faith are critical to the growing Christian.
Rice did not call for an easy Christian life, as is done sometimes by modern pastors calling their flocks to the comfortable life. Instead he spoke of what US President Teddy Roosevelt would have called the “strenuous life.”
To quote TR delivering his famous speech in 1899 in the city of Chicago:
“...I wish to preach, not the doctrine of ignoble ease, but the doctrine of the strenuous life, the life of toil and effort, of labor and strife; to preach that highest form of success which comes, not to the man who desires mere easy peace, but to the man who does not shrink from danger, from hardship, or from bitter toil, and who out of these wins the splendid ultimate triumph.”
Rice called for believers to embrace the strenuous life themselves, to get into the boat of the church despite the storms that will come the way of any believer dedicated to the cause of Christ.
Jesus himself put it this way in Luke 14:27:“Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.” (ESV)
Jesus also said to his apostles: “... In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”- John 16:33 (ESV)
Pastor Ryan Rice echoed these great men in his sermon, saying that it is critical to face your fears like Peter did if you want to live the successful Christian life.
Rice also said that the church should be a battleship rather than a cruise ship. Rather than being focused on the pleasures of this life, Christians should “put on the full armor of God,” as Paul instructed the church to do in Ephesians chapter 6. Christians should approach their walk with God as a serious and challenging pursuit rather than something that only happens for a few hours on Sunday.
Pastor Rice also stressed the importance of going against the tide instead of flowing with the world’s current, another aspect of the Christian life written about by the Apostle Paul:
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. “(Romans 12:2, ESV)
Rice called for an active, vibrant, and challenging Christian faith as opposed to the watered down, crowd pleasing messages which some today call preaching.
So, if you want to embrace the “strenuous” Christian life Jesus calls for, there are two key things for you to do. First, find a church that consistently preaches the full, challenging gospel of Jesus Christ, instead of subtracting from it to suit the ears of their listeners. Second, jump right into the water like Peter did, knowing that Jesus is right there with you and will guide you on his path.
Only by embracing the real challenges of Christian life and community- what Pastor Rice calls “getting on the boat”- do you have a strong chance of living the challenging- and rewarding- life that all Christians should be living- the life that Jesus has called you to.