If Christmas is a time of great expectations then New Year tends to be the time for good intentions: a healthier diet, fitness fads and a general determination to be an all-round better person. As Christians that desire for personal growth and development is an ongoing concern, not only reserved for the immediate days or weeks proceeding from 1st January.
It is said that as the great Michelangelo painted the magnificent frescoes on the ceiling of the Sistine chapel--lying on his back for endless hours to finish every detail with great care - a friend asked him why he took such pains with figures that would be viewed from a considerable distance. "After all," the friend said, "Who is going to notice whether it is perfect or not?" "I will," replied the artist.
Integrity sometimes seems like an old-fashioned word; it still exists of course, but we don’t need to strain too hard to see that it’s lacking in the world at large – even in church fellowships! There are many people who wear Christianity as if it were merely a badge; a status symbol; all part of the image or reputation which we like to convey to others. Others can be sincere in their belief but hold to a belief that is merely intellectual (in the mind) and not necessarily of the heart. We like to be seen to do the Sunday thing and perhaps even a little more than that. It can be one thing to go through the motions; to say that, and sound like, we are Christians. But it’s quite another to actually daily submit to Christ as Lord and Saviour and live as a Christian. Christianity isn’t really about coming to church (although that’s part of it). It’s about coming to Jesus Christ, who loves us, and to whom we are all accountable. He becomes our song, our raison d’être, our heartbeat.
God speaks to us in 1 Samuel 16v.7 saying, “Man looks at the outward appearance but God looks at the heart.” He knows how genuine and meaningful our Christian devotion really is. He knows the true level of our integrity rating. He knows the extent of our surrender to Him, and our passion to know Him and make Him known.
As a Christian believer myself I’m ever aware of the need to check my motivations; to examine my heart and mind against Scripture and to re-align my life in line with what Christ expects. It can be a humbling – and sometimes even painful – process, but always worthwhile.
What checking, examining and realigning do you need to do at the moment?
The following is a short piece which was written as if Christ were speaking (It’s actually based on words that Jesus spoke in Luke’s Gospel) -
You call me MASTER yet you do not obey me. You call me LIGHT yet you do not see me. You call me THE WAY yet you do not walk with me. You call me LIFE yet you do not live by me. You call me WISE yet you do not follow me. You call me RICH yet you do not ask of me.
May we know the blessing of God as we, honestly and intentionally, “press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of (us).”