Monday, January 19, 2009

Which Version Am I?

I never really intended to just abandon my blogging post, but you go a few days without writing, then a couple of weeks, and next thing you know, it's months later...and no posts. Well, I guess it's time to start trying to fix that.

A couple of weeks ago during the children's story, our pastor handed out little bibles to all the kids. After church, I was talking to a friend when her son came over, holding his new bible.
Well, apparently it is WAY past time for that eye exam, because I looked at the cover, and I what I read was "The Imitation Bible."
WHAT?!?! I was shocked. Stunned. My wonderful, godly, conservative Southern Baptist pastor was handing out Imitation bibles to our impressionable young children?!? Something was very, very wrong here...
"Let me see your bible," I said to my friend's son. He held it up, standing closer to me than the first time, and there it was, in big, bold letters right across the top: The Invitation Bible.
Not Imitation. Invitation. Oh...well, that's different then.
The world was returned to its rightful order--I admitted my mis-interpretation to my friend and we both had a good laugh about it and that was that.

Until this Sunday. On Sunday morning, our pastor was talking about the need for our lives to be an evidence of what we, I'm gonna just admit it, my mind wanders. Usually in about 40 different directions at once. Trying to keep it focused in one place for an entire 30-40 minute sermon is often an insurmountable task. One moment I am paying absolutely rapt attention, and then the pastor says something and my brain comes up with some completely separate, often irrelevant thought. He might quote Scripture, and suddenly I'd think..."chocolate chip cookies...WARM chocolate chip cookies..."
But sometimes these little brain bursts are very relevant, and then a whole lesson happens in my head...this usually means I don't really hear another thing the pastor says, but I've learned that God often really gets a hold of me during these little side trips in my head.

So, he was talking about being living examples of our Christian faith, and suddenly I thought of that Imitation Bible. Do I sometimes live more like I'm carrying around an Imitation Bible instead of the real thing?
"Do unto others as you would have them do unto you" becomes "Do unto others whatever you feel they deserve at that particular moment." ...and what about "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and thanksgiving, present your requests to God." I too often live like MY version of Scripture says "Try not to be so anxious all the time," or "Only be anxious if the situation seems really, really bad..." And "in everything give thanks?" Everything?!? Is He kidding? Doesn't He mean as often as possible? Or maybe, "give thanks at least five times every day?" I mean, I can't really be expected to give thanks in everything, can I?

1 Corinthians 3:2-3 says "You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everybody. You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts."

Just as Paul's letters reflect the experiences of his life, how God was working in him, MY life is a "letter"...but does my "letter" reflect my God accurately? Are others going to see God's Love, His truths, in my life...or am I writing an imitation gospel by the way I live?
You've probably heard the saying, "You're the only Bible some people will ever read." Question is, which version are they getting? The Truth of the Scripture, the Gospel of Jesus Christ? Or, some cheap imitation? In my case, they sometimes get the Gospel According to Sharon...and believe me, nobody should follow MY gospel...

If I want to live so others see God's Truth, and not just my version of it, I have to remember that I don't live that kind of life under my own power.
1 Thessalonians 1:5a & 7 says, "Our gospel came to you not simply with words, but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction...and so you became a model to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia." If we want to live out the Truth, we can't do it on our own...we need the power of the Holy Spirit.
We also need to submit to God's sovereignity...daily..sometimes hourly. I say Christ is Lord, yet I often live like I'm the boss of my life. I choose my way and ask God to bless it, instead of seeking God's way, and asking Him to help me live it.

And we need to immerse ourselves in the Word, so that we KNOW how it is we are called to live. If you don't read the Word, don't memorize Scriptures, don't hide them in your heart, then how can you expect to LIVE them?

At the end of my the end of this DAY...I want to look back and see that my life didn't show the world the Gospel According to Sharon, a watered-down, sometimes twisted version of the Truth...but that it reflected instead the Gospel of Christ. My job, my purpose, isn't to convince others the Gospel is True, it is to live the true Gospel.

I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me. And the life I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me."
Gal 2:20