“A Pattern to Follow”

NAU Philippians 3:17 “Brethren, join in following my example, and observe those who walk according to the pattern you have in us.”

ESV 2 Thessalonians 3:9 “It was not because we do not have that right, but to give you in ourselves an example to imitate.”

A new year occasions the opportunity to reassess and reprioritize our lives. Most believers would readily acknowledge our need to make God first in everything. However, the tyranny of the urgent often crowds out what is most important. Why is that? I would suggest that subtle steps of unbelief move us away from God being at the center of our life. We tell ourselves, “I have too much to do, I don’t have time to pray.” Or convince ourselves, “I’ve got to get angry and intense now to control and fix this situation.” Or, “I’ve read and known all of the Bible, what is left for me to learn?” Each thought like this includes a measure of unbelief. Each one assumes wrong things about God and His role in our lives. In truth, we become self-reliant instead of God-reliant. If anything, when life is at its hardest, we need God most.

Lately, I’ve been thinking and praying about a sermon series entitled, “Patterns of Christian Living”. The idea connects to this theme of reassessing and reprioritizing our lives. The title comes from Paul’s use of the Greek word τύπος in several of his letters. Our English noun “type” originates here. It essentially means a “pattern”. More specifically, in contexts which speak of the Tabernacle, it means “blueprint” (Exodus 25:40, Acts 7:44). The meaning shades to “trace marks” when speaking of Christ’s wounds (John 20:25). It is even used to speak of a certain kind of literary form of a letter (Acts 23:25). The underlying idea is something that is patterned after another. Paul uses this to describe aspects of Christian living in several places, with himself or other leaders as the pattern (Phil. 3:17, 2 Thess. 3:9, Titus 2:7).

There is a certain kind of life-pattern; there are routines; there is a certain rhythm for life that every Christian should march to. I’m not at all suggesting we become hypocritical automatons, going through the motions without thought or care. Church history has suffered too many similar trends. But I am suggesting that we can easily lose sight of the foundational tenets of daily living as a believer in Jesus Christ. This can get lost in the clamor of a thousand worldly distractions and subtle unbelief. We can be derailed even by the overload of information that we have access to today…even information about Christianity. We begin failing to believe, we begin failing to live, according to how we first learned Christ.

In two weeks, we return to our place in Luke 6:20-49, “The Sermon on the Plain.” Here, Jesus defines the standard for radical Christian ethics. This is the essential blueprint for Christian living. However, after we’ve concluded the passage, I’d like to broaden the theme and look at other passages that speak to this rhythm as it touches on various aspects of life: daily prayer, devotionals, work, relationships, friends, leisure, worship, etc. I invite you to join with me in taking a good look at “Patterns for Christian Living,” as we head into 2024.

Thanks! See you Sunday,

Pastor Dave

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