Are We Responsible to God?
About all that seems to flow from the various religious venues today is how much God will do for us. God is presented as being indebted to us and the measure of our faith forces Him to pay up. The most popular teaching today declares that God exists for our pleasure and nervously sits on edge waiting to do our every bidding. Modern teaching and preaching have depicted God as so fearful of losing us that He attends to our smallest needs. This doctrine is taught with such romanticism that people flit about in life as human angels chirping about the goodness of God that insures that they will be blessed and untouched by the problems of life. The contradiction of this idea is that it is not matched with reality. The truth is that in this world we have much tribulation and declaring otherwise isn’t going to change the fact. A believer’s faith should be in the truth that Jesus has overcome the world. What this means is that we have peace in Christ in spite of tribulation because we know that God is in control of our lives. We are not without hope, not without promises and we are not without the power and help of God, yet we are not exempt from tribulation. Instead, we are enabled to endure and overcome it. There is no victory without a battle and nothing to overcome unless adversity exists. In the same sense, there is no healing without sickness, no deliverance without bondage, no provision without a need, and no quickening without death. We were created to please God, not to be pleased and pampered by God. Not understanding this basic premise of life is to live irresponsible and uncommitted to the will of God. Understanding this premise helps us to realize that our petty complaints and desires are unimportant in the light of eternity.
God clearly makes us responsible for the way we live while residing in this temporal sphere. Although it is wonderful to know the benefits and privileges of being a child of God, it is of far greater importance to understand that they are not given as toys for a worthless display of self aggrandizement. Everything God gives us has responsibility attached that insist those gifts must be used wisely and carefully to bring glory to God and light to the lost. We must personify Christ through our lives because many people live in unreality, their minds drenched in deception, or short-circuited by drugs and alcohol, and others are simply lost in a denial of eternity and the God who rules over it. Other people deflect the knowledge of God with willful ignorance of who He is and what He declares to the world through His Word.
God has executed a plan to reach them. First, He sent His Son Jesus to die for the world’s sins. Then He sent the Holy Spirit to disseminate the gospel so that all might know that they are in need of a Savior. Finally, He instructs those who receive Jesus as Savior to reflect His image into a world blinded by Satan. Lost souls cannot “see” spiritually and neither can religious hypocrites. They can read the Word, but do not grasp its meaning. They can hear the Word, but not understand. Therefore, Christians who both hear and understand must allow the Spirit and the Word of God to conform them to the image of His Son so that they might see. However, something has gone wrong with our part of God’s plan. The modern church, for the most part, seems to have morphed from Christlikeness into a religious genre that is more preoccupied with luxury than sacrifice. Ritualism has replaced spirituality, program has replaced prayer, [i]twist-ology[/i] has replaced theology and all that is required to be counted among the redeemed is to claim the position. Professing Christianity of today is far removed from the practiced Christianity of early Church.
We will one day leave this temporal realm and be judged for the way we have lived on earth and that thought escapes the grasp of youthful minds. When we are young and full of vigor, we laugh at death and use our strength and security in youth to enjoy life with its volume and variety of pleasures. I spent some time a few months ago in the hospital room of a dear friend who is dying of cancer. I looked at her emaciated body and realized that the final entries in her book of life were being recorded. I considered what she had done and could possibly do if she were to live a few more years instead of dying. Then I wondered what was going through her mind as she lay there awaiting the terrifying finality of death. I also wondered what would be going through my mind if I were in the same situation. Would I race back in memories to the good times I had, the pleasures and honors? Would I carefully consider the things I had accumulated and recount the many times I had wasted both time and money on vanity? Would I reminisce about my best golf shots, the largest fish I’d caught, my favorite television shows, the different sports events I attended, or the other experiences I’ve had in life? The reality hit me that when one approaches the eternal, one-way, door of death, the first thought would be how to stay alive. We would make many promises to God for a few more years of life. We would give up all our possessions to live a little longer. We would void every memory of every past pleasure as if we had never enjoyed them, if we could just remain among the living. When the time came for us to realize that we were going to die and that there was no hope to live beyond a few more days, we would search our memories for the things that were done for God. The reality of imminent death has a way of enhancing what really matters in life.
The greatest waste of a life begins when a person is convinced that life is unimportant and spend it on frivolous living. We’ve been given an allowance of days that is seldom added to, although there are Biblical accounts where God has done so. Every day we live, we cash a 24-hour time-check and spend it. At the end of the day there will be nothing carried over to the following day. We will spend it somehow, even if we lay in bed all day sleeping and then sit up half the night watching television. We should recognize each day how we have spent our allotment and determine what we will do with the balance. Wasting life is a sin.
The apostle Paul lived his life as if his life could end any moment. When he said, I die daily, I do not believe he meant just dying to the fleshly nature, but also living as though his life could end any moment and his opportunity for serving God would be over. Such an idea, when preached today, is considered to be negative and oppressive. Many consider the idea of full surrender to God a legalistic notion unsupported by the Scriptures, so they capitulate to the hypnotic call of the World System and manage to keep their ears and minds free from anything that would convict them to do otherwise. This keeps the secular realm busy today filling the empty hearts of those who have left God’s gift of truth, or never approached it in the first place. As a result, many professing Christians are subject to hopelessness and may battle feelings of emptiness and unworthiness. This self-inflicted disorder keeps vain religion in business as psychological support for people with collapsing faith systems. They must be constantly told that God loves them and is there to serve their every need.
God does not require that we perform various religious rituals as the fulfillment of our responsibility to Him. Church service attendance is good, but it is a privilege more than a duty. Owning a few Bibles or being identified with a Christian group or organization is also good, but of no value if one is convinced godliness is unnecessary. We have been given a great gift—the gift of salvation—that comes with divine privileges and benefits, but also responsibilities. Our primary responsibility is to appropriate and then employ biblical principles in our lives until we become examples of Christ. Failure to fulfill this responsibility makes our profession of faith in Christ nothing more than unconvincing rhetoric. The simple truth is that no one is truly living until they are living for God and the effectiveness of our Christian witness depends on our submission to that truth.