Holistic part 2
Living for an Audience of One
Sunrise Wesleyan Church
September 19, 2010
How can I live a holistic Christian life? That’s the question we’re
trying to answer in our current message series. We’re calling the
series “Holistic”, and last week we talked about why we’re calling it
that. If something is Holistic, it’s all encompassing. It affects
everything. You usually hear it in reference to treatment of a medical
condition. In a holistic treatment, the treatment doesn’t just address
the symptoms or the biological condition, but the treatment addresses
the emotional, social, psychological, and spiritual aspects, too.
in the sense we’re using the word, we’re talking about living a
holistic Christian life where your faith… your relationship with God…
is reflected in every area of life.
For many people, their faith
is not holistic. For them, it just deals with an hour on Sunday. They
think that going to church and throwing a few bucks in the offering are
all there is to living the Christian life.
The Bible talks about
how living for Jesus is so much more than that. Here at Sunrise, we’re
about Real-life Christianity. That means that we believe our faith
should impact everything we say, think and do, everyday. We have a
practical faith, and we live it out daily. We see how the Word of God
applies in the real world.
It’s an all encompassing faith. It’s
holistic. It involves every area of life… how you spend your time, how
you spend your money, how you perform your work, how you interact with
others, how you treat people, the words you say, the things you do, the
thoughts you entertain, the way you react when you’ve been mistreated,
the way you treat others, especially the marginalized and disadvantaged
in our society, it’ll affect your marriage, your family, your
friendships… a holistic faith permeates every aspect of your life.
week, we looked at a diagram for this… we saw how living a God-centered
life means that God is at the center and everything else revolves
around Him. And everything else in our lives is under His influence…
under His direction.
Next week, we’re going to talk about how a
holistic faith affects your schedule. The week after that, how it
affects your finances. And then the week after that, we’re going to
talk about our relationships.
But today, we’re going to talk in
more general terms about what it means to live holistically. Instead of
living segregated lives, where God has His spot and money has its spot
and relationships have their spots and work has its spot, how can we
live so that everything works together in a holistic God-honouring way?
If you have your notes, you can follow along and fill in the blanks as we go. Okay?
In Order to Live Holistically…
1. Live to please God and God alone
apostle Paul is known as one of the greatest Christians of all time.
He’s the man primarily responsible for spreading Christianity beyond
the Jewish community. He wrote about half of the books in our New
Testament. He is someone who lived to please God.
wasn’t always the case. When we’re first introduced to Paul in the book
of Acts he was watching and condoning the mob execution of a
Christ-follower named Stephen. Paul was very much opposed to the early
church and made it his mission to arrest or even kill as many
Christians as he could.
At that time, he wasn’t known as Paul.
He was going by the name of Saul. And Saul was a very religious person.
He had studied under the leading rabbi of the day, and he was careful
to follow all the religious laws and was quite proud of his
religiosity. And as he travelled around trying to wipe out the early
Christians, he gained the approval of many of the Jewish religious
leaders and Roman officials who felt threatened by this newly forming
Christian Church. And so he did all he could to continue to please them.
the one day when this fellow met the Saviour, and he knew that He was
much more than a myth. It was then He gave his life to Jesus, chose to
live for him alone.”
From that point on, Paul ticked off a lot
of people. In fact, he even received death threats, had rocks thrown at
him, was arrested and imprisoned, and eventually he was killed for his
faith. Check out what he wrote in Galatians 1:10…
Galatians 1:10 (NLT)
I’m not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing
people were my goal, I would not be Christ’s servant.
So if you’re not living to please God, then you really can’t even call yourself a Christian or a Christ-follower.
Acts 4, the apostles Peter and John were arrested for preaching about
Jesus and were brought before a council including all the rulers and
elders and teachers of religious law. They ordered Peter and John to
stop spreading the message about Jesus. But listen to how they
Acts 4:19-20 (NLT)
But Peter and John replied, “Do
you think God wants us to obey you rather than him? We cannot stop
telling about everything we have seen and heard.”
isn’t an excuse to rebel against authority and break laws and thumb
your nose at authority. But it is a great example of choosing to please
God regardless of the consequences. Peter and John could have been
thrown back in prison, and they could have even been killed, but they
resolved to obey God rather than any authority that would tell them
otherwise. They were going to please God in each and every circumstance.
I was a teenager I used to listen to the Christian Rock group Petra,
and there’s a song they used to sing based on that verse right there.
It was called “Godpleaser”, and in it Bob Hartman wrote these words:
So many voices telling me which way to go,
So many choices come from those who think they know.
There’s a way that seems right to a man but it only brings him death,
I wanna go the way that leads to life, till I draw my dying breath.
I just want my life to glorify His Son,
To Make my Father proud that I’m His child before I’m done.
No need to pat me on the back or stop to shake my hand,
I just want to hear my Father say, “Well done, well done.”
~ Godpleaser performed by Petra, written by Bob Hartman
If you’re going to live a holistic Christian life, you’re going to live with that singular purpose… to please God.
going to affect how you spend your time… yes, you’re going to be here
on Sundays to worship Him and that’s going to be a priority for you,
but you’re going to live to please Him everyday. You’re going to use
your time in God-honouring ways.
It’s going to affect how you
use your money… yes, your going to tithe and give to God through the
Church because that’s what He has asked you to do, but you’re going to
use the rest of your money in God-honouring ways, too.
going to affect your relationships, your recreation, the way you do
your work… in every day in every way, you’re going to live to be a
The second key to living a holistic Christian life is to…
2. Live a life of harmony
this has nothing to do with music. It has to do with living a life that
is consistent. Where your words and your deeds and your thoughts are
reflective of your heart. Every aspect of your life lives in harmony
with each other because there’s a consistency there.
God sees all and knows all. Now, God is not a cosmic killjoy. He’s not
watching with the intent to zap you anytime you mess up, but He is
watching. He sees your deeds, and more importantly He sees your heart.
He knows your thoughts and your motives. Nothing is hidden from Him. So
you can’t fake it with Him.
1 Samuel 16:7 (NLT)
“The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”
sees not just what you do but who you do it. There’s going to be an
integrity there. You’re not going to say one thing and be something
Hebrews 4:12-13 (NLT)
For the word of God is alive
and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting
between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our
innermost thoughts and desires. 13 Nothing in all creation is hidden
from God. Everything is naked and exposed before his eyes, and he is
the one to whom we are accountable.
Okay, so God sees and knows
everything about you and me. So what is He looking for? He’s looking
for our character to reflect His character. He’s looking for humility
and devotion and selflessness and holiness. He’s looking for the fruit
of the Spirit to be developed in our lives. And what’s the fruit of the
Galatians 5:22-23 (NLT)
But the Holy Spirit produces
this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness,
goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
going to live a holistic Christian life, those character traits are
going to be evident in every area. He’s not looking for part-time
followers; He’s looking for disciples who are completely committed to
Him and His ways.
2 Chronicles 16:9 (NLT)
The eyes of the Lord search the whole earth in order to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.
The third key to living holistically is…
3. Live in private like you live in public
many times have people been caught living hypocritical lives? Almost
anytime you turn on the news, you’re going to hear about someone who
has been found out. They were living a lie. They were living one way in
public, but in private they were something very different.
a series of things Jesus says in Matthew 6 about the importance of
living with integrity even when no one’s watching. Let me read them for
Matthew 6:1 (MSG)
“Be especially careful when you are
trying to be good so that you don't make a performance out of it. It
might be good theater, but the God who made you won't be applauding.”
Matthew 6:3-4 (NLT)
when you give to someone in need, don’t let your left hand know what
your right hand is doing. Give your gifts in private, and your Father,
who sees everything, will reward you.”
Matthew 6:5-6 (NLT)
you pray, don’t be like the hypocrites who love to pray publicly on
street corners and in the synagogues where everyone can see them. I
tell you the truth, that is all the reward they will ever get. But when
you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to
your Father in private. Then your Father, who sees everything, will
Matthew 6:16-18 (NLT)
“And when you fast, don’t
make it obvious, as the hypocrites do, for they try to look miserable
and disheveled so people will admire them for their fasting. I tell you
the truth, that is the only reward they will ever get. But when you
fast, comb your hair and wash your face. Then no one will notice that
you are fasting, except your Father, who knows what you do in private.
And your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.”
words, don’t brag about the good things you do. Don’t draw attention to
the fact that you are praying, fasting, or giving to the needy. Don’t
do things just for the recognition you can get for it. If you do, then
their recognition is all the reward you’ll get. You’ll have your 15
minutes of fame. Instead, live so that God’s recognition is all that
really matters to you.
Now, sometimes people will recognize what
you’re doing, and that’s okay. As long as that’s not your motivation.
Make it your primary motivation to serve God out of love and obedience
whether anybody else ever finds out about it or not.
You have a
choice. When you give to the needy, when you pray, when you fast, when
you serve… (and by the way, it’s “when” you do these things, not “if”)…
do you do it for the applause you can get from others or do you do if
for the applause you can get from the Audience of One?
our audience of One, and we are all part of the band. We are not here
to entertain or impress people, but to worship God.”
~ Peter Thomas, minister of Brentwood Baptist Church, Essex, UK
me give you a challenge for this week: this week, find a need that you
can meet — someone you can pray for, someone you can serve, some
opportunity to be generous, some opportunity to live out our faith —
and then do it. But do it in a way that they’re not going to know about
it, and neither is anyone else. Make it your goal this week to serve
someone without gaining any recognition or praise in return.
since you’re going to do it without gaining any recognition, I’m not
going to find out about it. So this is on the honour-system. So it’s up
to you… will you live in private like you live in public? Even when you
don’t get recognition for it, will you still be generous and act with
compassion and do good deeds?
And number 4, if you want to live holistically, you’re going to…
4. Continually reflect and evaluate
it’s so easy to fall back into performance mode. You’re concerned about
what God thinks? Great. But be careful, because you can easily slip
back where you’re more concerned about what people think. So every day
wake up determined that you are going to live for God and serve Him
1 Timothy 4:16 (NLT)
Keep a close watch on how you
live and on your teaching. Stay true to what is right for the sake of
your own salvation and the salvation of those who hear you.
reflect on your life and evaluate where you’re at. Are you doing things
out of love and obedience to God, or are you more interested in the
affirmation and approval of the crowd? Are your thoughts, attitudes,
words, actions, and motivations consistently reflective of how God
wants you to live?
Ephesians 5:8-10 (MSG)
You groped your way
through that murk once, but no longer. You're out in the open now. The
bright light of Christ makes your way plain. So no more stumbling
around. Get on with it! The good, the right, the true--these are the
actions appropriate for daylight hours. Figure out what will please
Christ, and then do it.
When I’m working on the computer, I’ve
learned to save my work often. And I do periodic backups, too. Because
there’s nothing worse than losing hours of work to a computer crash.
(Well, there are probably a few things worse, but I can’t think of any
right now.) When I’ve put a lot of time and energy and effort into
completing something, I don’t want to have to start all over. I don’t
want to lose what I’ve accomplished.
That’s true when I’m
working on a computer and it’s true in life. When I’ve focused so much
on building a relationship with Jesus Christ and I’ve worked so hard at
serving Him and pleasing Him, I don’t want to lose it all by slipping
back into my old ways.
I have a friend who has told me about his
struggle to quit drinking. He’s told me about how he’ll do really well
for a while but then he’ll give in and have a bottle of rum. Then he
has to start all over again. In order for him to experience freedom, he
needs to commit each and every day to stay sober and not give in to
that temptation which will bring him temporary pleasure. Instead, he
wants the permanent pleasure of overcoming that addiction.
in order for me to live holistically, I need to commit each and every
day to focus on pleasing Him and living for Him, no matter what. And
that means I need to regularly look at my life and evaluate how I’m
doing. And every once in a while I may discover that the applause and
approval of others has become more important to me than the applause
and approval of God. And when that happens I need to refocus.
overwhelming desire of my life is to please my Saviour. And that may
mean that I need to do some things or say some things that are
unpopular and that even offend, but that’s okay. Because while I’d like
for everyone to be happy with me, that’s not my main focus. I want to
first and foremost please my God.