Christlike or Christless

So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him. –Colossians 2:6

It’s likely you’ve heard the famous Las Vegas advertising tagline: “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.” Think for a moment about what this implies. Hey, you want to cheat on your spouse in Vegas? No problem, it all stays there. Want to gamble away all your savings? Vegas will never tell. Want to party till you puke? Fine. The smell will never make it to your home. The implication of this approach is that it’s okay, even desirable, to live one way in Vegas, then another way at home.

I fear that for Christians, too many live out their faith in a similar way. “What happens away from church, stays away from church.” This reveals a weak, shallow, empty faith that attracts guilt and frankly, is a lousy way to live. It’s a compartmentalized faith — a pick-and-choose lifestyle in which a person basically wanders between a Christlike life and a Christless life. Typically, such a person chooses to live God’s way when the church lights are on and Christian friends are looking, but behind closed doors, when no eye can see him, all bets are off.

Here’s my personal experience: when I’m spiritually empty, I naturally gravitate toward a compartmentalized faith. I hate to admit it, but when I’m not feeling close to God, the actions of the world are attractive and even seductive to me. Thankfully, as I’ve grown in my faith, I’ve also learned to recognize the signs of my spiritual emptiness. Now I can usually catch myself before I experience the negative consequences of my actions.

I talk to a lot of Christians who believe that living for God means not blowing it in big areas of life: committing adultery, stealing money, murder–that kind of thing. Wrong! A non-compartmentalized, fully integrated faith means obedience in the small areas too. Obedience to a managed thoughtful life, speaking kind words, and the call to follow God’s way. It’s what we think at night when no one is around. It’s that extra jab we do (or don’t) when we have an argument with a friend or spouse. It’s the degree to which we keep (or lose) our cool while fighting traffic.

What’s the solution? Obedience is much easier when we’re living topped off and spiritually refueled. When we are consistent in connecting with God, our hearts are full, and we’ll desire to live a consistent (non-compartmentalized) faith. Today, take time to refuel, by stopping, by being quiet, and by making a connection with God. This can take seconds or hours and it can take place anywhere and at any time.

GOING DEEPER:
1. In what areas of your life do you find yourself most likely to compartmentalize your faith?

2. Write out three reasons why you need to be spiritually refueled and focus on the one that gives you the biggest challenge.

FURTHER READING:
Colossians 3:16; Ephesians 3:19

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Doug Fields

Doug Fields

Doug is the senior director of HomeWord Center for Youth and Family. Doug speaks to thousands of leaders, teens and parents each year. He teaches youth ministry at APU, and provides leadership and resources as a part of the Youth Specialties Team. He has authored 50 books and blogs at Download Youth Ministry. Doug, Cathy and their three children live in Southern California.

  • About HomeWord

    HomeWord helps families succeed by creating Biblical resources that build strong marriages, confident parents, empowered kids and healthy leaders. Founded by Jim Burns and supported by Doug Fields, HomeWord and Azusa Pacific University have partnered to form The HomeWord Center for Youth and Family. Learn More »

  • About Azusa Pacific University

    APU is a leading Christian college ranked as one of the nation’s best by U.S. News & World Report and The Princeton Review. Located near Los Angeles in Southern California, APU is a Christian university offering associate’s, bachelor’s, master's, doctoral, and degree completion programs, both on campus and online. Learn More »

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