2019 is a a year of Focus. What does it mean to be focused? According to the Online Etymology Dictionary the term is either used as a noun or verb. As a noun, we understand this to mean a point of convergence, or, center of activity/energy. As a verb, the word focus is about bringing into clarity. This latter part has a reference to what a photographer does. He patiently brings the lens of the camera into focus in order to capture a clear and precise picture. Based on this understanding, the idea behind this being a year of focus means: Bringing into clarity through a point of convergence and/or center of activity or energy of what it means to have a deeper and more meaningful relationship with God.
This begins by understanding the first guiding principle of living a mindful Christian life that is spiritually enriching, possessing a sense of meaning, and having a defined sense of purpose. If you have not already read through this article on how we are invited to live out faithful each day, please do so. Having a foundational guiding principle will help us come to fully understand all the other guiding principles that are built upon this one simple truth.
Foundation Premise of Mindful Christian Living
Christian mindfulness is coming to a place where we attach our deepest sense of self to God and seek after His kingdom and righteousness (see, Matthew 6:33, ESV). This requires us to surrender ourselves over to His divine will and grace. By being mindful, we are present focused on the moment and experiencing that moment without any prejudice or criticism. Adding to this, we are present focused on God’s will and desire within those moments as we experience them without any criticism or prejudice on our part. Since we are called to seek after God and desire to do His will, we are establishing ourselves as citizens of His kingdom.
As we establish our focus on how we relate to God, and cultivating a deeper, more meaningful, and more purposeful relationship with Him, we come to realize a sense of fulfillment. We may begin to see patterns and themes emerge through our mindful approach to praying and meditating on God’s word. Some of these themes will begin to emerge in how we gain a sense of worth and power, a sense of freedom and liberation, a sense of fun and leisure, and a sense of belonging.
A Christ-centric spiritual life, where we are mindful, may reveal to us a more promising, enriching and abundant life.
What follows are ten specific guiding principles of living a spiritually mindful Christian life.
Guiding premise one – Personal and Spiritual Authenticity
One of the may essential aspects of a mindful and spiritual Christian life is one of authenticity. This focuses on the outcome of our spiritual growth and journey, as well as the means of attaining spiritual growth and maturation. Authenticity is living out what truly matters. By being authentic, we are also being transparent in how we are living our lives. Through Christ, we are sanctified to continue to live within the grace of God. We come to understand how obedience leads us toward a life of blessing and authenticity. People will see us for who we truly are:
“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 5:14-16, ESV)
Through our authentic lifestyle, we come to bless people. We are the light shining so that others may see; because, where there is light, there is no darkness. True Christian living, from a mindful understanding, is what is missing in today’s society. Far too many Christians are placing yokes of doctrine, religious rites and ceremonies onto people. What appears to be lacking is any true authentic relationship with Christ.
We see this within the Gospels of the New Testament. The religious leaders and their resistance to the teachings, and life, of Christ himself. There was no authenticity in the life of those who challenged Christ. They were challenged by the simplicity of truth. Today, we are either open and receptive to God’s revelations and truths, or we are blind and deaf to them.
Personal and spiritual authenticity begins by us coming to the end of ourselves, surrendering our pretenses, attitudes, beliefs, and expectations in order to be filled with God’s love, peace, and presence. This requires our need to trust in God. Trust in His will. Trust in His promises. As we grow, so does our sense of authenticity increase.
Guiding Premise Two – The Highest priority of a mindful Christian life
The two greatest priorities of a mindful Christian life rests upon what Christ revealed in scripture. It is simple truth that has caused profound stumbling blocks for many people today. The very foundation of the Christian life is based on the bedrock of love. What this means is what Christ revealed when he was asked what is the greatest commandment.
But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”
The bedrock of our faith in Jesus Christ rests upon the foundation of Love toward God and love toward others. These two truths formulate the highest priority of a mindful Christian life. Reason being is because without love, we are left to our own selfish will, our own selfish and innate desires, and we live according to the dictates of our passions and carnal mindset.
Godly and divine love is what brought the Savior into the world. Godly and divine love is what cost Christ his life on the cross. Godly and divine love is what brought forth Christ’s resurrection. Not love toward Himself, love toward us.
but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8, ESV)
Love is the power that allows us to walk in obedience. Love is what empowers us to honor and respect one another. Love is how we are to treat our enemies. It is through love where we may find complete joy in life (see, John 15:10-20, ESV).
Guiding Principle Three – Living in God’s Will
Today’s Christian message is all about Grace. It is all about what God is capable and only able to do for the individual. Yet, when it comes to discussing obedience, many Christians balk at the idea as being anathema to the doctrine and gospel of grace. Many times, they cite verses from various Pauline epistles as justification for the doctrine of Grace. What they forget is that Christ constantly called His disciples to walk in obedience. Not only to walk in obedience, to also call all men to repent, become disciples and walk in obedience to the commandments of God. Christ, himself, even said that He walked in obedience and accordance to God’s will.
What does it mean to walk in obedience to God’s will? It means we are present and focused on hearing His word. We are in tuned to His spirit. We seek His daily guidance and counsel. Christ said, I did not come to do my will, but to do the will of the one who sent me ( see, John 6:38, ESV).
What is God’s will and how do we live in it? Simply to know who God is and to know who Jesus Christ is:
And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. (See, John 17:3, ESV)
Therefore, we walk in obedience, according to God’s will and desire, because it is how we come to not only Know Him (and Christ), it is how we are able to build our faith and trust in Knowing God is faithful and just toward us.
Guiding principle four – Take full responsibility for our own Christian Life
A mindful Christian life means we take full responsibility in how we live. Prior to coming into the “way”, we may have taken some responsibility for our own behaviors and actions. However, and if we are brutally honest with ourselves, there are some moments where we passed the buck on responsibility. Coming to Christ means we have put to death the old man. This means we no longer live by our own rules. We no longer operate under our previously held beliefs, attitudes, passions, and desires. Instead, we take full responsibility in living our lives in the manner that is a reflection of Jesus Christ himself.
Our spiritual growth and maturation is not for anyone else. It requires for us to take responsibility for how we think, how we behave, and how we perceive and understand the world around us. By focusing on how we live out a Christ-like life, we are bringing into clarity of what it means to minister to other people, to love them, to show grace and forgiveness as God shows grace and forgiveness toward us. We are called to put off the old man in order to live within the newness of life (see, Ephesians 4:22 and Colossians 3:9, ESV).
Guiding principle five – Surrender to God’s will and desire
Our spiritual journey and growth is centered on the reality of surrendering. Happiness, success, sound and healthy relationships depend on our ability to move out of the illusion of control. We come to the end of ourselves in order for us to be fully emptied out of our own will and desire. We are then filled with God’s will and desire. We have no control over outcomes, over the way other people receive us, or how people think and behave. Christ declared that just as much as it rains on the just, it also rains on the unjust (see, Matthew 5:45, ESV).
The giving of sunlight and rain reveals to us God’s divine character toward those who love him and those whom are his enemies. Prior to this, we are called to love our enemies as this reveals our relationship to God. In short, we exhibit the character of God by being mindful and understanding we are not fully in control over other people. They operate under their own sense of moral agency in how they decide to live their own lives.
Our decision to surrender to God means we are giving up any sense of control we have over our own lives.
Guiding principle six – A deep and enriching sense of spiritual reality and truths
Our spiritual growth is interdependent on our love and obedience to God’s will and desire. What this means is that as we grow spiritually, in relationship with Christ and the Father, greater is our insight into spiritual truths and reality. We no longer stand in conflict with our old sense of being and our new, created, sense of self. Because our true identity is anchored on the reality of knowing who Christ is, and therefore the Father, we come to receive divine insight, spiritual counsel, and wisdom.
Guiding principle seven – Coming to live an abundant life
Reflecting on the words of Christ, we come to realize the heart of God’s promise and will for our lives – I came that they may have life and have it abundantly (see, John 10:10, ESV). Through a mindful Christian life, we come to realize the abundant life Christ promises. This does not mean we are not going to experience adversity. On the contrary, through Christ, we are capable of living a life that has meaning, a life that has purpose, and a life where we experience Joy in the Lord.
Through our growing relationship with God, we come to develop confidence that He consistently and continually guides us. We only seek Him and his counsel daily. This is accomplished through our established times of solitude. A time where we enter into mindful prayer and meditation.
Guiding principle eight – Enhancing peace of mind through Christ
The more we grow in our daily sojourn with God, the deeper and more intimate we come to experience peace of mind. Today’s society has men’s heart failing them. We are constantly worried about things that have already happened or anxious about things that are yet to come. We fail to appreciate the present moment and lose sight of all that we are experiencing.
Pain leads to joy. Suffering leads to overcoming. Life is a pilgrimage of either losing ourselves to obtain the treasures and accolades of the the world; or, we lose ourselves in obtaining a knowledge and relationship of God in order to find our worth, power, and sense of belonging (see, Mark 8:34-38, ESV).
Guiding principle nine – Living a mindful Christian life requires daily commitment
It is not enough to just merely confess Christ as our Lord and Savior. It is not merely enough to simply believe. Scripture reveals that even the demons and devils believe and shudder (see, James 2: 19-3:2, ESV). While it takes faith to come to understand and confess in Christ, it takes great commitment to take upon ourselves the name of Christ and live as Christ lived.
What this means is that our divine relationship with Jesus Christ, and our Heavenly Father, is not a mere happenstance. It is not one of passivity. It is not one where we “come and go” as we desire and please. There is a reason Christ said to the disciples and multitude – if any man were to follow me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. Christ committed himself to walk according to His father’s will and purpose. He committed himself to understanding and knowing what His life meant. Christ committed to walk in purpose. All of it focused his attention, not just on the Cross of Calvary, but focused on the plan of Salvation that God had presented prior to the creation of this world.
God’s divine plan and desire is to see to the immortality and eternal life (see, Moses 1:39) of those who come to believe and follow after Christ. And, through Christ, we make our commitment in taking upon ourselves the name of Christ. This is due to the reality of the following spiritual truths:
- It is through Jesus Christ where we are redeemed and granted eternal life
- The expectations and standards of living a Christ-like life is a daily discipline we take upon ourselves
- Through Christ, we are capable and empowered to endure to the end
Living a mindful Christian life is not something we enter in with passivity. It is a serious covenant relationship we are committed to living.
Guiding principle ten – We become active sources of Godly attitude of grace, forgiveness, and gratitude
Most Christians tend to shy away from the term of Transcendence. Yet, there is a real simple truth to walking a spiritually mindful Christian life. Through Christ, we are sanctified and transformed to His likeness and image. Through this process of sanctification, we may mature and grow spiritually to where we transcend the normal confines of the present world. Meaning, we have come to a place, in our relationship with God and Christ, where we no longer live according to the expectations and standard rules of modern society and living. That does not mean we are superior to other people.
Faithful Christian living means we have come to a place where we achieve a greater sense of purpose and meaning for our own lives. Something that many pastors and teachers of God’s word focus on. I take heart in what Paul wrote to Timothy:
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing. (see 2 Timothy 4:7-8)
The Apostle Paul realized he came to the full sense of meaning and purpose for his life. While he was called to preach the Gospel to the Gentiles. While he suffered much. Having established Churches and written to those churches on various teachings, instructions, and Gospel-centric truths. The one thing he reveals to Timothy is that by his commitment to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and living out that Gospel within his own life, he kept the faith and will be judged righteously whereby he will receive a crown of righteousness.
This reflects the teaching of Christ where we are asked not to lay up treasures in this life and according to this world. We are to lay up treasures for ourselves in the coming Kingdom. Therefore, our focus, while living out our lives today, ought to not only be on the promised eternal life we have through Jesus Christ; our focus ought to be on finding how we are empowered to live a Christ-centered life where we are:
- Mindful of His desire, will, and love for us
- Mindful of our commitment in obeying Him daily
- Mindful of how we love ourselves and others that is a reflection of Godly love
- Mindful of His grace and mercy toward us
- Mindful of our time and desire to cultivate a deep and enriching relationship with Him
Let us strive to focus on living a deep, meaningful, and purposeful relationship where we find a life that is abundant and full of joy.
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