Sunday, June 26, 2011

The Experiment

“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather serve one another in love.” (Galatians 5:1, 13)

Have you ever looked at someone else with envy and wondered why they should be so blessed when they go about their lives with not even so much as a thought about God? Everything they do is met with favor. They have money, not debt. They succeed at everything with relative ease when those of us who follow Christ sometimes struggle to get even the tiniest thing right. With hardly a care in the world, they go about their lives seemingly happy and at ease. But are they really joyful and fulfilled?

Lately I have thought about conducting an experiment to prove to a prodigal believer just how pointless life without God really is. I have considered (not seriously, mind you) what would happen if for just one week I took God out of the equation and lived my life on my terms instead of His. How differently would I approach the use of money and conduct my affairs if I excluded God from my decisions? Certainly I would be free to do things my own way without concern about the consequences of my choices. I could willfully sin and enjoy it. There would be no need to consider the needs of others above myself because taking care of number one would be my only priority. Without God to help, happiness and success would be completely up to me.

Sadly, there are many Christians living the very existence I have just described. Their salvation is no more than fire insurance to keep them out of hell after they die. Although by the world’s standards they have everything one could possibly need or desire, they lack the freedom and fulfillment of a life lived wholly for God. Their hope is built on external things that will eventually perish, not on the everlasting faithfulness of a sovereign God who will be there long after everything has turned to dust.

As a young adult fresh out of college, I lived as a prodigal believer. My goals were to have money, be successful in my career, be well-liked by those who knew me, and to find a partner who could fulfill every emotional need I had. Seven years of living outside the will and influence of the God who had saved me as a teenager, taught me that a life without God is no life at all. Success, prosperity, and love were empty because I was missing the single most important ingredient – the fulfillment of living for and being used by God to make a real difference in the lives of others.

Perhaps if we experimented a little less with living without God and really poured our hearts and souls into living for Him, the prodigal Christians around us would repent and become true worshippers living “God-saturated” lives.

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