Want to know the four secret ingredients to a happy and sustaining authentic Christian life? Sure you do, especially if one is struggling with a crisis of faith, doubt, or moderately curious as to what the Christian life has to offer them. These four secret ingredients are simple and practical. Want to boost your faith and relationship with God? Increase your own self-awareness and confidence as a Christian?Better yet, Influence people with the hope that lies within you (See 1 Peter 3:15) because of the authentic Christian life that is lived out daily.
We know everyone is chasing after something that, hopefully, will bring them some type of happiness. Better and healthier relationships, health and wellness, financial prosperity, a sense of liberation/freedom, and ability to have a sense of worth. These are all good things. Yet, life is frustrating when we see ourselves without and wanting these things. To help us move into a richer and life sustaining authentic Christian life, we must look at what we are doing each and every day to maintain the following areas of our lives:
- Sense of Worth
- Sense of Freedom
- Sense of Fun
- Sense of Belonging
In addition to the above four simple principles, we must understand that these are things we do for ourselves, by ourselves every day. The question is, how do we gain a sense of worth, freedom, fun and belonging for ourselves and by ourselves as Christians?
1. Gaining a Sense of Worth
First, we all understand that confidence goes a long way. For Christians, we have an understanding that our confidence comes by and through Jesus Christ. This happens as we begin to align ourselves to walk according to the will of God and move away from walking according to our own will. This begins with understanding how we are a new creation in Jesus Christ (See, 2 Corinthians 5:17, ESV)
Ezekiel 11:19 (KJV) says this:
And I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them an heart of flesh (see also Romans 6:4 and Romans 7:6)
Once we receive this new life we start walking according to the will and desire of God. This occurs as we put off the old and take on the new man (See Ephesians 4:24, ESV). In Moroni 10:32, we read the following:
Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ, and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God.
Therefore, our sense of worth begins with Christ and comes because of Christ – who has conquered sin and death (see Romans 6:8-10).
Second, our sense of worth comes because we grow from faith to faith and grace to grace. Through our obedience to following God and live as Christ taught us to live, we become ever transforming through the process of sanctification. The more humble we allow ourselves to become, the more we learn to walk in humility. The more we practice empathy and compassion through acts of charity, the more opportunities we grow and move into more acts of kindness. Our faith grows all the more, even through adversity and trials.
Third, it is because of trials and adversity that we gain a greater sense of worth. For many of us, facing fears and challenges brings a sense of anxiety, maybe even hopelessness. Our focus is on what we are not able to do, our fears, concerns, and sometimes lacking in resources. However, it is because of these trials that we face, our faith in God (and in ourselves) grows all the more stronger. For instance, James 1:2-3 shares this insight:
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.
Finally, as we grow in our faith, our confidence grows, as well does our relationship with Christ and the Father. We become intimate with them, we understand and know the voice of the Spirit. We are willing participants in our life. It becomes easier and easier as we gain confidence in knowing God is there and answers our prayers. This means, we develop a habit of coming to the Lord in prayer with our requests, and take time to meditate upon his word each and every day. Because, our faith grows through personal revelation. In combating Satan, Jesus Christ replied, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.” This means through the scriptures, through prayer and meditation, through other Christian believers, and through messages that are delivered by those who preach and teach the message of the Gospel of Christ.
The question becomes, what are we doing to gain a sense of worth in our daily lives in moving toward an authentic and sustaining Christian lifestyle? Taking the simple steps here we, start developing the habits of moving closer to God, and closer to others. We face our trials with confidence, knowing it helps grow our faith. We rest in knowing that every day is an opportunity to walk with God through Jesus Christ as we relate to others around us. Our worth comes from Jesus Christ.
Because our worth comes through Jesus Christ, we are sustained and able to endure to the end no matter what happens in our lives. What steps do you need to take today to start gaining a sense of worth in your own Christian life?
2. Sense of Freedom
We are bogged down with a sense of “busyness” where we feel overwhelmed and frustrated. People struggle with various forms of addiction, debt, live in toxic/co-dependent relationships, or work too many hours. Life is not happy, and for some, it becomes almost unbearable. Many of us, essentially, seek to escape from the realities of our lives. Find solace, desiring a sense of freedom.
First, we come to understand that there are two types of freedoms in the Christian life. The first freedom is that from sin. Through Jesus Christ, we are no longer enslaved to temptation and sin. As mentioned in the previous section, we are new creatures through the redeeming power of Jesus Christ. The second type of freedom in the Christian life is living in an authentic life that continues to be liberating and not enslavement. This ultimate leads to a life with Jesus Christ, because we will essentially leave this mortal life and await until we are resurrected and receive our heavenly reward. Both of these types are interdependent with one another.
A careful study of Romans 5:12-21 contrasts the difference between Adam and Christ. Through Adam, we inherited a fallen nature that is susceptible to disease, temptation and sin. We become slaves to our own passions and desires. Through Christ, and his redemption, we are no longer bound to sin. We are indeed free from the effect of the fall and the consequences of sin. For Latter-day Saint Christians, faith in Jesus Christ is a means by which we are no longer condemned because of Adam’s Transgression (See Second Article of Faith).
Another careful study concerns the Fall of Humanity and the scriptural evidence. It appears to have been a necessity for the Fall. This begins with understanding the command to Adam and Eve in partaking of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. A Sovereign God placed two trees, the tree of Life and the aforementioned tree, in the garden of Eden. The only prohibition regarding the partaking of the tree of knowledge of Good and Evil. From an LDS Perspective, this was a necessary need to happen in order to bring about the redemption of humanity. Without the fall, there is no need of redeeming humanity. In fact, a reading of the chapter in Genesis shows that the Sovereign God remarked how man had become like God in obtaining of the knowledge of Good and Evil (See Genesis 3:22)
This knowledge shows the powerful gift of moral agency within the human experience. Through our moral agency, we choose to live a life that is liberating or live a life that is enslaved to our own desires and passions. Through our choices we make, we are either blessed or receive a life that is cursed. This is expounded upon in the Book of Mormon in 2 Nephi 2:16-29:
16 Wherefore, the Lord God gave unto man that he should act for himself. Wherefore, man could not act for himself save it should be that he was enticed by the one or the other. 17 And I, Lehi, according to the things which I have read, must needs suppose that an angel of God, according to that which is written, had fallen from heaven; wherefore, he became a devil , having sought that which was evil before God. 18 And because he had fallen from heaven, and had become miserable forever, he sought also the misery of all mankind. Wherefore, he said unto Eve, yea, even that old serpent, who is the devil, who is the father of all lies , wherefore he said: Partake of the forbidden fruit, and ye shall not die, 19 And after Adam and Eve had partaken of the forbidden fruit they were driven out of the garden of Eden , to till the earth. 20 And they have brought forth children; yea, even the family of all the earth. 21 And the days of the children of men were prolonged, according to the will of God, that they might repent while in the flesh; wherefore, their state became a state of probation , and their time was lengthened, according to the commandments which the Lord God gave unto the children of men. For he. 22 And now, behold, if Adam had not transgressed he would not have fallen, but he would have remained in the garden of Eden. And all things which were created must have remained in the same state in which they were after they were created; and they must have remained forever, and had no end. 23 And they would have had no children ; wherefore they would have remained in a state of innocence, having no joy , for they knew no misery; doing no good, for they knew no sin. 24 But behold, all things have been done in the wisdom of him who knoweth all things. 25 Adam fell that men might be; and men are , that they might have joy . 26 And the Messiah cometh in the fulness of time, that he may redeem the children of men from the fall. And because that they are redeemed from the fall they have become free forever, knowing good from evil; to act for themselves and not to be acted upon, save it be by the punishment of the law at. 27 Wherefore, men are free according to the flesh ; and all things are given them which are expedient unto man. And they are free to choose liberty and eternal life , through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil; for he. 28 And now, my sons, I would that ye should look to the great Mediator , and hearken unto his great commandments; and be faithful unto his words, and choose eternal life, according to the will of his Holy Spirit; 29 And not choose eternal death, according to the will of the flesh and the evil which is therein, which giveth the spirit of the devil power to captivate , to bring you down to hell , that he may reign over you in his own kingdom.
The entire second chapter of Second Nephi is an entire treatise on the necessity of the fall, purpose and reason behind opposition, and meaning of how we find liberation through Jesus Christ in this life and in the life to come. However, in our lives, we strive to put to death the flesh of our humanity and strive to walk in the Spirit of light and truth where we are constantly transformed.
Again, through Jesus Christ, we begin to discover a sense of freedom for ourselves. The key to this blessed life of liberation is how obedient we are willing to come to a Sovereign God and lay down all our defects of character and allow the spirit of Christ work through us and in us. Constantly revealing areas in our lives that need constant work and transformation. After all, the Christian life is not only living in authenticity, it is an ever transforming process of change in the new life we are blessed with.
3. Sense of fun
When it comes to the Christian life, especially when we are discussing living in authenticity, one of the complaints arise from the concern that this life appears to be “boring”. Some may even go so far and describe the Christian life bland and without any excitement. Of course, this is all based on perception. As Christians, we are not to diminish ourselves from not enjoying life. There are many things we can do, ever so little, in our lives to gain a sense of fun. Fun at work, fun at Church, fun within our families, and fun within our communities. In fact, it may even be fun to utilize creative ways to find activities for ourselves to engage in.
However, one of the challenges is the false idea that in order to have fun, we have to be around others. Of course, it is fun to get together with friends and family. Yet, what are we doing to have fun for ourselves and by ourselves? This is where balancing out our lives come into play.
There are thousands of activities one may be able to engage in. Learn a new language, take classes to improve our talents, learn an instrument, discover hidden talents, anything that keeps our hearts and minds occupied. Always mindful to do all things that are worthwhile and beneficial.
4. Sense of Belonging
The final ingredient that will ignite and sustain and authentic Christian life is having a sense of belonging. While we are created to be in relation with one another (and God for that matter), there are many times an individual may need to “get away” and have some time alone. This does not mean we ought to isolate ourselves. On the contrary, taking time for ourselves helps us gain a sense of belonging. Taking a Sunday stroll on a nice afternoon and reflecting upon the message from the sermon. Volunteering our time to help those (most Churches are always in need of volunteers in various ministry).
In scripture, we read that Christ took himself away from his disciples and the crowds. Along with finding things a person is able to do for fun, one also may gain a sense of belonging through exploration. Journaling might be a good way to gain a sense of belonging as we reflect on the day and lessons learned in that day, how we are progressing in our walk and what has inspired us in living a transformed and authentic Christian life.
Lastly, we gain a sense of belonging in knowing that each day we live our lives, and we live it unto Christ, we belong to the family and Kingdom of God.
Therefore, as you go throughout your day, ask yourself – What am I doing in my Christian life to gain a sense of worth, sense of freedom, sense of fun and a sense of belonging? If you are new or questioning the Christian faith, ask yourself what it will look like for you to not only gain however, to implement ways to begin living an authentic lifestyle. Even if you do not come to know Christ, living a healthy life that is transformed and authentic requires an understanding of these four simple ingredients. They will ignite and sustain your life in a way that empowers and motivates one to move more toward a deeper sense of being and appreciation.