The Rim Over the last few days we have been looking at some basic skills in our lives as Christians. As I said at the outset, these skills could be summarized as a picture of a wheel with four spokes. At the center of the wheel, the hub, is Christ. The hub controls the motion of the wheel. If it moves forward, the whole wheel moves forward. If it goes backward, the wheel goes backward; turns left or right, the wheel turns left or right and if it stops, the wheel stops. Jesus needs to be the central force in our lives, controlling what we do, when, at what speed, with whom we do it. I like to think that two of the spokes are vertical, representing our relationship with God--the bottom spoke is the Word, God speaking to us as we Hear, Read, Study, Memorize, and Meditate on God’s Word. The top spoke is prayer--us responding to God through Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication and intercession. The two horizontal spokes deal with our relationships with people—fellowship made possible by a Common relationship with God, Our mutual love for God, keeping our relationships open and free through Forgiving and Being forgiven and having a mutual Purpose. The other spoke is evangelism that comes as a result of our own deep abiding Relationship with God, our Lifestyle including our attitudes and actions, Prayer for people who are not yet Christians, telling people what God has done for me or others, our Testimony, and actually telling someone how to becoming a Christian, sharing the Gospel. Those spokes transmit the energy of the hub (Christ) to the rim of the wheel. The rim is the other part of the wheel...it's where the "rubber meets the road", where the wheel comes into contact with the ground, or where we come into contact with the world. As a wheel rolls down the road, it leaves an impression in the dust and that impression can be used to identify the type of wheel. A bicycle wheel, a motorcycle, a cart, a Michelin or Goodyear tire can all be identified by the kind of mark it leaves in the dust. People should be able to see the marks we leave behind us and know that a Christian has passed this way. Those marks should say "The Obedient Christian in Action". Those marks show up through our entire lives--our external actions and words, and our internal attitudes, habits, motives, sense of values, and every-day thoughts. A lot of the impression we leave is as much from non-verbal cues as from what we say and do. We need to let our "light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in Heaven." John 15 is one passage that summarizes this illustration, and I strongly encourage you to read it again. It starts out with Jesus at the hub of our lives 5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. Matthew 5 shows one way we leave our mark behind as we roll down the road of life: 13 “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people's feet. 14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 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. We are salt in the world. Like salt, we act as a preserving agent to society around us. We act as a purifying agent as we bring God’s ways of doing things to bear on our surroundings; God’s attitudes toward those around us and toward our circumstances. We add flavor to life as we show the world a better way, as Paul says in the last verse of 1 Corinthians 12, before he launches into the description of God’s Love in the next chapter. Jesus talks about how we know a tree by its fruit in Luke 6: 43 “For no good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit, 44 for each tree is known by its own fruit. For figs are not gathered from thornbushes, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush. 45 The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks. The world around us will know us to be Christians by the “fruit” we bear, as Paul says in Colossians 1: 10 so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. We increase in the knowledge of God through the “spoke” of God’s Word, and through fellowship with other Christians as we encourage each other, challenge each other, and build each other up. God describes that fruit He wants us to bear in Galatians 5 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. What a difference that is from the “fruit of the world” listed in the verses right before: 19 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these… You could say producing God’s fruit brings order and harmony to life and to society. Producing the world’s fruit brings disorder, tension, dissention and deterioration into life and into society. The world can’t help but notice a difference between our lives and itself. It will commend us or condemn us, respect us or revile us, but it will notice that we belong to God as we live our lives in obedience to God. Acts 4 says people were watching, observing Peter and John. They saw that the lives of these two men were different from their own lives, and they saw why. 13 Now as they observed the confidence of Peter and John and understood that they were uneducated and untrained men, they were amazed, and began to recognize them as having been with Jesus. Another translation says and they took note that these men had been with Jesus. How do people remember you? How do you want to be remembered by people? What will be the lasting impression they have of you? Will they remember you as a Christian? May God bless us as we leave our mark as Christians in this world, and in the lives of the people with whom we come into contact. Obedient Christians in Action. And just one other thing. Just as the wheel leaves its imprint in the road, so we leave our imprint on the world. The world does not leave its imprint on us.