Even though I am free of the demands and expectations of everyone, I have voluntarily become a servant to any and all…in order to reach a wide range of people: religious, non-religious, meticulous moralists, loose-living immoralists, the defeated, the demoralized—whoever.
I don’t take on their way of life, however, I will keep my bearings in Christ (I will figure out my position in every situation relative to my surroundings, and not become confused—as I enter their world, and will try to experience things from their point of view. I’ll become just about every sort of servant there is, in my attempts to lead those I meet into a God-saved life. I do all this because of the Message. I don’t just want to talk about it; I want to be in on it!
We’ve all been to the stadium and seen the athletes’ race. Everyone runs; one wins. Run to win!
All good athletes train hard. They do it for a gold medal that tarnishes and fades. We do it for the medal that’s gold…eternally.
I don’t know about you, but I’m running hard for the finish line. I’m giving it everything I’ve got. No sloppy living for me! I’m staying alert and in top condition, the highest degree of quality and excellence! I’m not going to get caught napping, telling everyone else all about the message and then missing out myself.
To win in a contest we must deny ourselves many things that would keep us from doing our best.
Like an athlete we must punish our body, treating it roughly, training it to do what it should, not what it wants to. Otherwise, that after enlisting others for this race, we, ourselves might be declared unfit and ordered to stand aside.
So if you’re serious about living this new resurrection life with Christ, act like it! Pursue the things over which Christ presides. Don’t shuffle along, eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you. Look up, and be alert to what is going on around Christ—that’s where the action is. See things from His perspective.
Your old life is dead. Your new life, which is your real life—even though invisible to spectators—is with Christ in God. He is your life.
That means killing off everything connected with that way of death: sexual promiscuity, impurity, lust, doing whatever you feel like whenever you feel like it, and grabbing whatever attracts your fancy. That’s a life shaped by things and feelings…instead of by God.
So make sure it’s all gone for good: bad temper, irritability, meanness, profanity, dirty talk.
Don’t lie to one another. You’re done with that old life.
It’s like having on a filthy set of ill-fitting clothes. Clothes that you’ve already stripped off and put in the fire. Now you’re dressed in a new wardrobe.
Every item of your new way of life is custom-made by the Creator, with His label on it. All the old fashions are now obsolete. Labels like Jewish and non-Jewish, religious and irreligious, insider and outsider, uncivilized and uncouth, slave and free, male and female, mean nothing. From now on everyone receiving Him, is defined by Christ, everyone is included in Christ.
So…because we are chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, Jesus being first-place! Be quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you, and regardless of what else you put on, wear love. (Agape` | God’s love: unconditional, sacrificial) Agape` love does not refer to phileo (brotherly love), nor eros (erotic love). It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it.
Let the peace of Christ keep you in tune with each other, in step with each other. None of this going off and doing your own thing; and cultivate thankfulness.
Let the Word of Christ—the Message—have the run of your house. Give it plenty of room in your lives. Instruct and direct one another using good common sense. And sing, sing your hearts out to God! Let every detail in your lives—words, actions, whatever—be done in the name of the Master, Jesus, thanking God the Father every step of the way.
Chosen of God…do what you’re told by your earthly trainers/leaders. Don’t just do the minimum that will get you by. Do your best. Work from the heart for your real Master, for God, confident that you’ll get paid in full and receive an inheritance!
Keep in mind always that the ultimate leader you’re serving is Christ. The sullen servant who does shoddy work will be held responsible!! Being a follower of Jesus doesn’t cover up bad work!