The Hollow Way of Life

On Monday morning I went out for a run….yes, I know big surprise 🙂 Actually the last couple of months were a bit of a struggle, but of late I’ve got my mojo back, but that’s not what this post is about.  It was dreary, foggy, drizzly, and a bit damp.  I almost didn’t go for a run.  It was everything I could do to get out there – I promise this is not a running post – or a perseverance post.

As I got to the park, I noticed there was some activity at one of the entrances – the one that takes you to the stadiums and the National Guard Armory.  They were doing some tree cutting.  I noticed the next time around that the main truck had moved and was heading through the park.  I passed by the refreshment stand by the baseball field and that was where they had parked.  The next time around they were working on cutting a tree.  I thought maybe what they were doing was some trimming, but as I learned on the next time around, the whole tree was coming down.  By this time my run was done, so I did my stretches – but not any strength training because all the equipment was wet.  By the time I got back to the spot in the van, they were cleaned up, but they leave the trees for anyone to take the wood.  Now is when I noticed why the tree was cut down.  From the outside it looked great.  The higher part of the trunk looked really good and so did most of the branches.  However, the trunk at the bottom was hollow.  I wish I would have had my camera on Monday morning, because by Tuesday afternoon, someone had taken the large part of the trunk that was hollow.  But I did get a picture of the stump and some of the branches.

Immediately I was thinking about spiritual applications – finally the phrase “your hollow way of life” came to mind.  Sounds right, but not quite right, so I googled phrase and was pointed to 1 Peter 1. Here are verses 13-22

So prepare your minds for action and exercise self-control. Put all your hope in the gracious salvation that will come to you when Jesus Christ is revealed to the world. So you must live as God’s obedient children. Don’t slip back into your old ways of living to satisfy your own desires. You didn’t know any better then. But now you must be holy in everything you do, just as God who chose you is holy. For the Scriptures say, “You must be holy because I am holy.”

And remember that the heavenly Father to whom you pray has no favorites. He will judge or reward you according to what you do. So you must live in reverent fear of him during your time here as “temporary residents.” For you know that God paid a ransom to save you from the empty life you inherited from your ancestors. And it was not paid with mere gold or silver, which lose their value. It was the precious blood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God. God chose him as your ransom long before the world began, but now in these last days he has been revealed for your sake.

Through Christ you have come to trust in God. And you have placed your faith and hope in God because he raised Christ from the dead and gave him great glory.

You were cleansed from your sins when you obeyed the truth, so now you must show sincere love to each other as brothers and sisters. Love each other deeply with all your heart.

I was thinking about this…so many times we make the Good News about decisions for Christ, but I really believe there is so much more to it than just decisions.  The passage that is referenced here is about living a life that is changed – a life that is growing in Christ.  There are too many who say they have come to Christ and yet there life is hollow – just like the tree — and that is dangerous.  Just like that tree in the park.  The reason it was cut down was because it was dangerous to the public – the walkers, runners, dog walkers, mom’s and dad’s pushing their kids in strollers, kids riding their bikes, those driving in cars…

While Christians living an unchanged life isn’t dangerous per se to those around them – although you could say that it is – because it damages the witness of all of us – living a hollow Christian life is dangerous to your eternal soul.

Peter reminds us that we shouldn’t slip back into the old ways of living to satisfy our desires.  We didn’t know any better then.  We are called to live a holy life – because we must be holy as God is holy.  A Christian life that is not holy, is just like that tree – it is empty – it is not full.  Jesus said that he came so that we might have life and have it to the full.  Jesus did not want our lives to be empty or hollow, but to be full of him.  Jesus has strong words for those who don’t produce fruit (John 15.) However, he gives us a promise, “If we remain in Him, He will remain in us.” We cannot be fruitful unless we remain in him.  But if we are severed from the vine, Jesus reminds us, that we will not produce fruit and we will be thrown away – you could say that we will be cut down, just like that tree was.

Christ reminds us that when we produce fruit – we bring glory to the Father.  Jesus in that passage in John, talks to his disciples about loving one another and loving others.  To bring this back to the 1 Peter passage, he writes,

“And you have placed your faith and hope in God because he raised Christ from the dead and gave him great glory. You were cleansed from you sins when you obeyed the truth, so now you mush show sincere love to each other as brothers and sisters. Love each other deeply with all your heart.”

I think it’s interesting…some say it’s impossible to live the holy life. Some say we sin in thought, word, and deed every day.  I find it hard to believe that God would call us to “be holy as he is holy” and not give us the power not to sin in thought, word, and deed every day.  Where is the resurrection power in that?  Where is the power of the Holy Spirit working in our lives every day in that?  If Christ paid the price for our sins – If we were redeemed from our empty way of life – If God paid our ransom – If the precious blood of Christ – the spotless Lamb of God – paid our the ransom for our sins – something that can never perish or fade – should that count for something – I believe with all my heart that we can be holy – because we have been redeemed to live lives that are pleasing to God – not hollow or empty  – by the precious blood of Christ and his resurrection from the grave.

As we approach Holy Week – I will be posting scriptures for each day – along with the “Collect of the Day.” I would encourage you to mediate over these next weeks on the great price that Christ paid for our sins and the life that we should live because of Christ’s great sacrifice.  I’ll close with Paul’s words from Romans 12:1-2.

And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

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