Muscular Christianity Billboard

What Would Your Billboard Say? (Part I)

Muscular Christianity BillboardIf you were tasked with creating a billboard that promoted the advantages of being a Christian, what would it say?

Let’s take it a step further and say that you can design it however you want, but you have to leave out the idea of eternal life as well as the notion that says “He helps you with your problems.”

It makes you think, doesn’t it?

John 3:16 and verses like Isaiah 42:10 and John 16:33 demonstrate that missing hell and going to heaven along with having a Divine Source of assistance in moments of trouble are both very much a part of the Christian’s landscape.

But, if your approach to Christ is limited to either a funeral home or a major crisis when you’re feeling like you’re at the end of your rope, then you’re missing out on the vast majority of what God brings to the table in the context of a relationship with Him.

In John 17:3, Jesus defines eternal life as “knowing God.” That’s not something that begins when your heart stops, rather it’s something to be enjoyed, experienced and deployed right here, right now. And while it’s certainly a game changer when you’re dealing with a problem that threatens to overwhelm you, it was never intended to be something you reached for only in times of duress.

That said, how does knowing God translate to an advantage when comparing the life of a believer to their unsaved counterpart? What would your billboard say?

I’ve got a few ideas. Check it out:

II) It’s All Good

And we know that in all things, God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. (Rom 8:28)

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing  and perfect will.  (Rom 12:2)

And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. (2 Cor 9:8)

It’s all good!

         A) The Word “Good”

The word “good” goes beyond “decent” or “passable.” In each of these verses, the Greek word for “good” is “agathos (pronounced eh-gah-THOS).” That same word is used to describe God Himself in Matthew 19:17. Among the definitions of that word, you’ve got things like “excellent” and “distinguished.”

Another Greek word that means “good” is “kalos (cal-OHS).” The definition for this word is “beautiful, handsome, excellent, eminent, choice, surpassing, precious, useful, suitable, commendable, admirable, good, excellent in its nature and characteristics, and therefore well adapted to its ends.”1

This is the word used in Matthew 5:16 where it says:

In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. (Matt 5:16)

When Jesus describes Himself in John 10:14 as the “good” shepherd, He uses the word “kalos.” When He turned the water into wine, the guest that noticed described what Jesus had made as the best wine, the choice wine and he used the word “kalos.”

          B) Making it Sell

If you were to go back and substitute the word “excellent” for the word “good” every time that it appeared, those verses would resonate a little more, wouldn’t they?

Take for example Ephesians 2:10. Now before we proceed, let’s go ahead and qualify the word “work,” just so there’s no confusion as far as what that word means.

The Greek word is “ergon” and it means “action, deed.” It’s not a word that is used solely to describe something supernatural, it’s also used to describe something very common. In other words, “good works” isn’t necessarily referring only to some noble gesture like volunteering for VBS or helping an elderly woman across the street. It’s an action, it’s a “deed.”  But when you put that word “agathos” in front of it, well, see for yourself:

For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do excellent deeds, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Eph 2:10 [edits highlighted])

That “sells” doesn’t it?

The bottom line is that you and I were put on this planet to make a difference and not just an appearance. In the midst of all the things that typically occupy our time and energy, there’s a Purpose and a Power and a Perspective that allows us to process the world around us in a way that is infinitely more meaningful and stable than what our unsaved counterpart has access to.

          C) Goalposts

As human beings, we all have goalposts that we’re shooting for. And we work to advance that ball into the end zone. Problem is, those goalposts never stop moving. We never achieve that which results in lasting fulfillment. Solomon says as much in Ecclesiastes when he says

“Meaningless! Meaningless!” says the Teacher. “Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless. (Ecc 1:2)

Solomon isn’t clinically depressed, he’s simply acknowledging the fact that you want something until it’s yours, and then you want something else. And from that perspective, he’s right on target. Everything is lacking in its ability to truly satisfy, save one thing and he mentions it in the last two verses of Ecclesiastes 12:13:

Here then is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. (Ecc 12:13)

The word “duty” has been added. The way the Hebrew reads is “this is the whole of man.”

The same thing shows up in Colossians 3:4:

When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. (Col 3:4)

Galatians 2:20 says:

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Gal 2:20)

Go back to that Truth we looked at a moment ago in Ephesians 2:10: Excellent deeds…

fulfillment_graphWhen I give God the keys to my life, He comes in and gives my spirit a pulse. At that point, my perspective changes and I’m not looking at life as a series of spikes in fulfillment and achievement. Rather, it’s a constantly increasing quantity of “excellent deeds” or “good works.” That’s what Paul is talking about in 2 Corinthians:

And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. (2 Cor 3:18)

Are you smellin’ what’s on the stove, here?

As a believer, I’m not looking at life as a collection of obstacles or even a journey that’s going to peak at some point followed by a mundane existence. I’m seeing it as one quality adventure after another.

That doesn’t mean that every day is a holiday and every meal is a feast. Jesus said we would run into problems:

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. (Jn 16:33)

We’re swimming in a dirty pool. Ever since Genesis we’ve had to contend with heartache, sickness and disappointment. That’s part of the world we live in. Saying “It’s all good” doesn’t negate the reality of life. What it does is position the Reality of Christ in our lives so we’re not simply “getting through it,” rather we’re getting to it!

If something goes south, I’m not obligated to process that as some unfortunate detour. If I’m on my knees and I’m being intentional about ensuring that my hand is staying in His, then I can stay motivated regardless of my circumstances because I know that in the end this is just one way in which God is steering me so that I’m staying aligned with His Plan.

And there is a Plan! That’s why I can say “It’s all good!” Even when I’m getting ready to run past what appears to be the last defender between me and the goal line and I get pulverized by some mammoth safety that came out of nowhere, I can still get back up. Not because I’m calling forth some hidden resolve within myself, but because I’ve got the Spirit of Christ working in and through me.

That’s my Purpose, that’s my Power and that’s my Peace. And you know what? It’s all good!

III) Conclusion

Some of y’all might be listening to me and thinking I’ve got monkeys coming out of my nose. Look, there’s more to life than a business card and a check book. There is nothing wrong with excelling in the marketplace but that cannot be what defines you. It’s not the money you’re making that equates to a life, rather it’s the Savior you’re serving.

But that’s not going to make sense if you’re on the outside looking in. The Bible says that you’re a spiritual corpse prior to Christ coming in and breathing life into an otherwise lifeless entity (Eph 2:1, 4). If you’re ready for the goalposts to stop moving, if you’re ready to start living and stop merely existing, if you’re ready for a perspective that can honestly claim, “It’s all good!” then make today the day you make Christ Lord of your life.

Maybe Christ is already living in your heart and you’ve given him the keys to your life. Awesome! But the Truth that’s being expounded on here isn’t something that stays fixed in your mind automatically. It’s both healthy and necessary to “renew” your mind, like it says in Romans 12:1-2. Frankly, you’ve got to stay on top of your game spiritually in order for God’s Word to resonate practically.

Regardless of your circumstances you can maintain a healthy and optimistic disposition. Not because you’re a naturally upbeat person, but because you know “it’s all good” based on the Person, the Promise and the Presence of God in every minute detail of your life.

Rock on!

It’s all good!

To view some more ideas about one’s “billboard,” click here…

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