Every Sunday morning I listen to Ravi Zacharias, a well-spoken Christian apologist, before going off to church. He has a way of centering my thoughts on primary concerns, something very useful when I am about to engage my God in worship. This morning Ravi revealed a deep personal concern. He said that there is one apologetic struggle that he continually lives with, which disturbs him to no end and it was this:
Why is it so many people who talk of a supernatural transformation show so little of the transformed life?
His point was that when the world does not see a change in the lives of those who are speaking the language of transformation, it rightly asks how can this faith they espouse be legitimate. He then argued that it is possible that what the world needs is to hear is not another apologetical argument, but instead to see that argument lived out in a truly transformed Christian life.
His concern flowed out of the guiding principle that the foundation of all Christian living should a life that is lived inseparable from the Word. Our lives should be so consistently lived so that our proclamations match our deeds. For example, after giving a successful talk at the University of Iowa, one of the people driving Ravi to airport told him what his neighbor, a physician, had said about what his presentation the night before, which speaks directly to this whole premise. She had said about his talk, Very, very persuasive. I wonder what he is like in his private life.
That is what the world outside the household of faith is looking for, the example of a Christian life well-lived. However, it is not only the expectation of the world, but also most of those within the church. We want to see those around us, especially those in leadership, living out the claim of Christ upon their lives. Dare I say that this is the expectation of Christ also about all who claim to follow him? Everyone is looking to see lives lived in the power of Christ; lives changed in every way that are not minimally but all-encompassingly Christian, lives where Christ touches absolutely everything in and of the people who claims him as their own.
I have been challenged by Ravi’s words this morning even though I have tried to center the whole of my Christian life on the scriptures, as I said in a previous post on sola scriptura. But intellectually centering one’s life on the Word is not enough. In much the same way that the scripture is God-breathed our Christian lives have to Word-breathed. As Paul says in Ephesians 5:25b-27 about the church collectively, but it also applies to each of us individually:
Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. [emphasis added]
The Word must guide, form, correct, and encourage everything we do, so that what we say is in line with how we live. We don not want those who read our lives, searching for the truth of our words and the Word, t0 go away disillusioned and disappointed.
My prayer for this Sunday is that I will become truly transformed by the Word, so that within and without, all that I am, and all that others see, will be Christ, so that I can say with Paul, “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives within me.”