Dear Sir/Madam: I have visited your website and receive your monthly publication. I am beginning to understand your Biblical interpretation on some issues. However, I am confused about how you apply your beliefs to everyday life. What should one’s everyday life be like, especially the life of a married woman? Do you have Church services? I am married with three children and I am curious as to how one would tailor one’s life to be able to live within the constraints of your beliefs. Thank you for your patience.—NLS
I can think of no topic more important or more challenging—or more rewarding—than that of tailoring our lives to be within the constraints of our beliefs.
Perhaps the first point to realize is that God does not expect anyone to suddenly start living the “perfect” life idealized in Scripture. It is a process that requires time and practice. Some important steps in the process are outlined below.
- Learn What God Has Revealed in His Word
- Count the Cost
- Change Our Lives
Learn What God Has Revealed in His Word
The first step is to learn what God has revealed in His Word, including His plan, what He offers, and what He requires. The prophet Isaiah said, and Jesus repeated, “They shall be all taught of God,” (John 6: 45).
To learn what God has revealed one must study. Paul advised Timothy, “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15). Only by studying the Bible can one acquire the faith on which to build a Christian life.
Count the Cost
The next step is to determine whether one is willing to make the sacrifices required, in view of what God offers. In plain words, is it worth the price?
Jesus advised each would-be follower to make this determination. He said, “Which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first, and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it? Lest after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build, and was not able to finish’ ” (Luke 14:28—30). He also used the illustration of a king who would not go to war without first making sure that he had sufficient military strength to overpower his enemy (verses 31—32).
Jesus did not say that His way of life was effortless, or that it was easy. In fact, He called it “strait,” “narrow,” and difficult (Matt. 7:13—14; Luke 13:24). He called it a way of cross bearing and sacrifice (Luke 14:27; Matt. 10:37—39). He compared one seeking the Kingdom to a man buying a field in which he was convinced lay hidden treasure. With great joy the man went and “sold all that he had” to buy that field (Matt. 13:44).
Each of us must decide whether the prospect of eternal life in Christ’s kingdom is worth the sacrifice and the demands of Christian living.
Change Our Lives
Once we decide that we want what He is offering, we must decide how we need to change our lives to correspond to the pattern given us in Scripture.
Following Christ doesn’t change many things about our lives, it changes everything. Why? Because it changes our motives, our direction, our goal in everything we do, whether we are at work or at rest, with our family or with strangers. Everything becomes part of our offering and service to God; as emphasized by the apostle Paul when he said, “Whether you eat, or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Cor. 10:31).
How does this translate into reality? Let’s look at a few common areas of our lives.
c) What We Read
d) Relaxation and Recreation
e) How We Relate to Others
f) Worship, Devotion and Prayer
Our Obligation at Work
Our beliefs affect how we do our daily work, regardless of what or where that work is. One continually helpful question is: Would I want to be found doing this when Jesus comes? There are plenty of places we would not want Jesus to find us (in a bar, an entertainment hall, a theater, a casino). We want a vocation in which we do not have to compromise our Christian standards to do our work, and where, if possible, we do not have to represent or be part of activities or interests which degrade the cause of Christ. Our goal is not wealth or station, but only to serve God acceptably, to spend our time in useful employment, and have that which is sufficient for our needs. We want work which we can do “as to the Lord” (Col. 3:23—25).
Our Responsibility to Our Children
One of the prime requirements of serving God is to teach our children the principles, values, and ways of Christ-like living, to instill in them a reverence for their Creator, a love of life and an appreciation for good things. Part of the law to ancient Israel was that they “teach these things diligently” to their children. The command was: “Teach [these things] to your children and to their children after them… Talk about [these things] when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up” (Deut. 4:9, 6:5—7 NIV). The apostle Paul confirmed that children should be brought up “in the training and instruction of the Lord” (Eph. 6:4 NIV).
How does this translate into everyday life? It means teaching our children respect for their elders and a love of virtue. It means being an example of honesty, integrity, upright conduct, and reverent regard for God and His Word at all times. It also means showing them the joy and benefits of upright living.
A significant part of this responsibility to our children is in their education. Since values are largely “caught” and not “taught,” we want to select an environment which will give them the best moral and spiritual exposure while at the same time teaching them the skills that they will need for an upright, productive life in the service of God. Options vary with one’s situation.
Sometimes enrollment in public school may be an appropriate choice. More often private school is preferred, or home schooling may be possible. In any case, we need to put a high value on the influence they receive and on what they are learning of morals and the disciplines of life. Could we imagine that God ever recommended that the Israelites turn their children over to the Canaanites to be taught—when He commanded them to live separate, and not even talk about their false forms of worship?
What We Read
Living in an information age, we are bombarded with materials to read, and more than ever before we must choose carefully, in line with our Christian goals. We might ask ourselves, what is best for my spiritual growth? What will build up, edify, and instruct? Is it information I need and can use, or does it only appeal to my curiosity? What would I want to be found reading if Jesus were looking over my shoulder?
Relaxation and Recreation
Again the options available today are greater than ever before, and we must be careful that we do not invite the degraded principles and standards of our society into our homes by way of television and video. While there may be good in each, we must be extremely discriminating, keeping in our mind our high goals, our ideals, and our obligation to God to make profitable use of our time.
We will never regret being too selective, for it is much easier to get images and pictures into our mind than to remove them. A helpful rule often followed in Christian families is, “If in doubt, don’t.”
When choosing a form of recreation, we want to select something we can do with our family without compromising our Christian values. One might think in terms of hiking, camping, fishing, or any number of activities where one does not have to be involved in competition, or be exposed to unwholesome influence.
How We Relate to Other People
Perhaps our greatest—and most challenging—obligation as Christians is that of maintaining a right relationship with other people. This means that we must be continually applying the principles of Scripture to our own lives, so that we are consistently upright, honest, kind, gentle, forbearing, forgiving, peacemaking, doing to others as we would want to be done by.
Being Christ-like in our conduct toward others gives us an opportunity to develop and apply all the Christian virtues in everyday situations, so that we are, as Paul described it, “lights in the world” (Phil. 2:15). If we are moody, complaining, faultfinding and ill-willed, we deny the cause we profess to support.
When working with others we have opportunity to practice deferring to others, giving up our own way, acquiring the Christ-like qualities of meekness and thoughtfulness, going the second mile, being patient and longsuffering with the faults of others, and above all showing that our first desire is to please God and be right in His sight.
There is no substitute for the witnessing power of moral, disciplined, cheerful conduct.
Worship, Devotion and Prayer
Whether we are at home or in the workplace, in school or wherever we go, we must keep an attitude of prayer and devotion, and be often in touch with our Heavenly Father. If we think about how dependent we are on His resources for every breath of air, every bite of food, every drop of water, and how totally we are dependent on Him for future life, we will want to live always with an attitude of gratitude. Where would we be without God?
The people of God in all ages have been men and women of prayer. They took God into all their plans, and that is what we must do if we would be examples of the believers “in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity” (1 Tim. 4:12).
We will also want to take time for Bible study so that we are acquainted with the teachings of the Word and the people whose lives have been recorded for our learning. The Bible is filled with lessons which are helpful to keep in mind, so that we can have a ready answer when we confront temptation, and so that we are able to defend our faith to those who question it. We learn what has given courage to those who walked before us, and are thus made more ready to show courage in our lives. The examples put forth by the bible give us helpful thoughts to be mindful of as we try and take captive every thought and make them obey Christ.
Altogether, it is a tremendous venture and learning process. At times you will feel discouraged, but if you are serious in your effort you will also be encouraged by your successes. We learn and grow from our failures and victories, if we keep going.
We might say there are three primary ways of learning and growing.
- When you fail, analyze your failure and learn from it. It is a good self-improvement resource, to learn from our mistakes.
- Listen to others. Learn from their criticisms; search your heart to see where you can improve. Notice good attributes in others, and try to make them your own.
- Earnestly seek God’s help. Did you know that He has obligated Himself to help those who earnestly and steadfastly try to please Him?
And remember that all things “work together for good”—our eternal good—if we truly love God and are seeking to please Him (Rom. 8:28).
God has a plan for this earth and humankind, for those who wish to participate in it. Our part right now is to recognize God as supreme Creator over all, and to live so that He will choose us for a place in His coming Kingdom, when He sends His Son to fill the earth with His glory and to take over the management of earth’s affairs (Matt. 6:10). If we would live then, we must become free from evil in any form. How do we become free from evil? The answer is simply stated: “cease to do evil; learn to do well” (Isa. 1:16-17).
Answering your question about church services, yes, we do have a church in Rochester with services each Sunday. We also meet daily for prayer and Bible study. Outlying ecclesiae hold services in their homes. For those who wish to receive them, the Church offers cassette recordings of Bible studies and Sunday services.
We encourage you wholeheartedly to pursue your convictions, and know that you will find Christ-like living the most satisfying, the most adventuresome, and the most rewarding course you can possibly take in life.