This is the seventy-second lesson in author and pastor Mel Lawrenz’ How to Live the Bible series. If you know someone or a group who would like to follow along on this journey through Scripture, they can get more info and sign up to receive these essays via email here.
See Mel Lawrenz’s book, How to Study the Bible: A Practical Guide.
“Just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live [lit. walk] in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ. For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority.” Colossians 2:6-10
There is nothing better that can happen to a person in life than to come to the place of saying “I believe.” It is like someone turns the lights on, or, better yet, the day has dawned and the confusion and oppression of the darkness of life has been pushed back.
We want to believe because without faith all we’re left with is a gigantic question mark about the meaning and purpose of life, no real hope for the future, and no assurance that we are loved by anyone beyond passing human affection. Without faith we are cut off from our Creator, and consequently, we are cut off from what he has created. All of life becomes disjointed. It is like sitting on a stool where two of the three legs have become loose and the whole thing could collapse at any moment.
If we want to believe, then we need to realize that faith doesn’t happen in a moment, it is a lifelong walk. Those who “receive” Jesus as Lord, need to begin and continue a walk with him. When you put these two ideas together—“receiving” and “walking”—you get a total picture of faith. It is not just walking, as if it were up to us to go on a great quest in order to find God who is hidden up high in the mountains somewhere, but neither is it just receiving, which would be like repeating vows in a wedding ceremony, but not following through with marital commitment.
Many believers are fond of speaking in terms of “receiving” Christ, and that is biblical, as we see in this passage. But it is only one way of describing the reality of faith. And, it is important that we realize just how serious this “receiving” is. It is not merely saying the right words or praying the right prayer as if they were some kind of incantation. While it is true that the front end of “receiving the Lord Jesus” is a simple admission of need–a plea for mercy, an opening of heart and hands–we should realize that receiving a Lord is to give up one’s own lordship of life. And we would do well to eliminate from our vocabulary the phrase “making Christ Lord.” We don’t make him anything. Because he is Lord, and only because he already is Lord whether we acknowledge it or not, then we can have assurance that he can truly be Lord in our lives.
And then the walk begins. Just one step after another. Not worrying about whether you’ll make it to the top of the mountain of life or not, because God will inevitably have to carry you some of the way, and will bring you to the summit in the end.
How do you deal with doubt? You tell yourself that you’re not inventing faith, you don’t have to have all of life’s questions answered today, you don’t need to figure out exactly where you will be five years from now. God knows. You just have to take the next step.
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Mel Lawrenz (@MelLawrenz) trains an international network of Christian leaders, ministry pioneers, and thought-leaders. He served as senior pastor of Elmbrook Church in Brookfield, Wisconsin, for ten years and now serves as Elmbrook’s minister at large. He has a PhD in the history of Christian thought and is on the adjunct faculty of Trinity International University. Mel is the author of 18 books, including How to Understand the Bible—A Simple Guide and Spiritual Influence: the Hidden Power Behind Leadership (Zondervan, 2012). See more of Mel’s writing at WordWay.