Believing in God but living as if he doesn’t exist!
This is the second book that I have read by Craig Groschel and I want to recommend it to everyone who reads this blog. It’s an easy read and his style is humorous with a down to earth approach that corresponds with his teaching style. Craig is the founding and senior pastor of LifeChurch.tv that has over 80 worship experiences each weekend at over 14 different campus locations throughout the country.
I want to specifically address his “three lines in the sand” vision that wraps up the book. Craig suggests that the Christian life is a series of choices to cross over various lines in the sand. Each line progressively requires more understanding o f our position and calling in Christ. The crossing of the first line says “I believe in God and the gospel of Christ enough to benefit from it.” This is the easiest of the lines to cross because it costs the crosser nothing. One gets all of the benefits with no “skin in the game.”
It could be likened to considering God as a heavenly slot machine that is expected to pay out – but requires no coins to play. Much like the nine ungrateful lepers of Luke 17, once God blesses us we can forget about him. We believe that he owes us good health, good relationships, great jobs and a happy-ever-after-life this side of heaven.
When we live like this we are really no different than the demons mentioned in James who believe that there is a God. Are these “believers” cultural Christians or even worse false believers? This is a question each of us who are first line Christians need to ask ourselves. The answer is something that only you and God know for sure.
The second line we are called to cross states “I believe in God and Christ’s gospel enough to contribute comfortably.” Personal observation and experience tells me that this is where the majority of church attenders are comfortably at.
We believe God enough to expect benefits and we are even willing to give something back. Just don’t ask too much from us. After all we have our new houses, new casrs, vacation places, boats and retirement contributions to make.
Much like the rich young ruler of Matthew 19 we are willing to go only so far with our commitment. Just don’t push us! Don’t ask us to be willing to give God everything!
The final line we travel towards says “I believe in God and Christ’s gospel enough to give my life to it.” This is the statement that can take my breath away, Can I honestly say (and live out) I give it all to you, Lord? You are in complete control.
25 For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it.
26 What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?
Matthew 16:25-26 (NIV)
20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
Galatians 2:20 (NIV)
24 However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me--the task of testifying to the gospel of God's grace.
Acts 20:24 (NIV)
8 What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ
Philippians 3:8 (NIV)
Are you willing to take the plunge? To jump off the cliff? To trust God with all of your life and all of your stuff?
I have to honestly say that while I wish this was a one time event, the reality is that we have to make this choice daily. Too often I’ve failed to make the right choice – but I have a heavenly Father who is infinitely patient with me. He is always encouraging me to go jump off a cliff!