Over the past few months, there have been situations in my life that have allowed me to see myself from the outside. No, I am not having an out of body experience, but I do believe that God is allowing me to see myself as if I am an observer and I don’t like what I see.
From attitudes to actions, I have been able to see the “filth” that is contained within this life. I won’t get into details but I will say that whatever has been going on I can’t say, “The devil made me do it”. All that I have been experiencing has been completely my fault.
My personal belief is that this Christian life is not totally personal. When Jesus preached, he did it publically. The times when others tried to disprove what Christ taught was public. Jesus died a public death. In the 1st century church, the people laughed, cried and confessed to each other. Even when James wrote his letter, he said to “confess your sin to one another”. Why would James write that? Why would James have people tell each other the problems and sins they face from day to day?
“Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” – James 5:16 (ESV)
To keep everything in context, here is James 5:15-17…
“And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth.” – ESV
This passage is dealing with the effectiveness of prayer and the Christian walk. If we live separate lives, doing what we want to do, praying for our own needs, then we have a prayer life that is ineffective. However, if we live lives together, caring for each other, being accountable with one another and praying for each other, our prayers become so effective that extraordinary things will occur. However, did you see the next thing that James writes?
“Elijah was a man with a nature like ours…” He was a man like you and I. He doubted, got sick and even sinned, yet he was given the opportunity to do things for God that were even against the laws of nature. However, what is implied here is that Elijah was effective because he led a life that was completely surrendered to God.
Yesterday, I heard the story of a woman who lived the Christian life that was partially surrendered to God. She read her Bible, prayed and even did children’s ministry, but she soon discovered that she needed to live a totally surrendered life to Christ. She had been diagnosed with cancer and was scheduled for a pre-operation procedure. God had shown her life was not fully surrendered to Him. She confessed her sin and asked God to take over her completely! At her next appointment, the doctors told her she was cancer free.
After reading and hearing her story, I went on with my day thinking about my own life. Between last night and this morning, I realized that my life is not completely surrendered either. There are times where I say one thing and do another. There are times when I teach one thing but don’t live it. I even noticed that when the times of temptation, instead of relying on God’s strength, I rely on my own strength. There are times of success but more often times of failure. Many times, I feel like Paul when he wrote:
“I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.” – Romans 7:18-20 (NIV 1984)
It sounds confusing at first, but when I want to do the right thing, I don’t do it and when I don’t want to the wrong thing, that I do. However, the responsibility is all mine. I cannot blame others for the sin in my life and I can’t blame ignorance either. Many times, I know full well what I am doing, yet decide to do the wrong thing anyway. This is why I hate when people say that their addictions are “illnesses” and they “can’t help it”. I believe that our society has given us a way out of responsibility in order to build our “self esteem”. However, let’s call it like it is..sin!
Luckily, I have people that I can talk to in order to confess and pray for me, without judging me or demeaning me. We all have sin in our lives. We all need others to pray for us. However, we also do not need to get down on ourselves for these things either. Remember what 1 Peter 2:9-10 says:
“But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light. ‘Once you had no identity as a people; now you are God’s people. Once you received no mercy; now you have received God’s mercy.’” (NLT)
We are God’s people. We have been chosen by Him. We have been set apart by Him and for Him. We once had no identity but now we are identified as Christ’s own. I need to live like this but before I can, my life has to be completely given over to God, this way my prayers and actions will be identified as not my own but God’s. By doing this, others will see the love of Christ in me and maybe even be drawn to the cross.
Continue to pray for me as I am on this journey. I will pray for you as well. Let me know if you have any specific prayer requests. My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
God bless and encourage someone today.