Monday, January 2, 2012

Are You Living From the Inside Out or From the Outside In?

It's that time of year again . . . a time for hope, a fresh beginning, and purging

As you develop your "improvement plan" for the coming year, there's something I want to ask you to do. It's going to sound a little strange but it's extremely relevant to true life change. Look at your life for a minute and ask yourself:

"Am I living from the inside out or from the outside in?" 

From the Outside In:

God intends for his people to look different, act different, be different than the mainstream culture. Unfortunately, this isn't happening today. 

My husband has a friend who once told him that he knows many people who call themselves Christians, but they lie, cheat, and steal just like everyone else

Another friend who's an atheist once said, "Mike, you're the only Christian I've ever met who's living differently because of his faith."

In the book, Unchristian, the Barna Group states that in virtually every study they've conducted, representing thousands of interviews every year, they've found essentially no difference overall in the lifestyle activities of born-again Christians and those who are not Christians. Yeah - we carry our Bibles and attend church more, but there's no difference. 

They also discovered that nonbelievers between the ages of 16-29 have rejected the Christian faith because they are repelled by Christians - in part because of the extreme hypocrisy and lack of transformation they see in professing Christians. This is a huge problem. Too many people are living from the outside in.

So what does that mean?
  • Many Christians today have succumbed to the culture around them instead of succumbing to God.
  • They've given their allegiance to the world instead of devoting their hearts to God and his ways. 
  • They've allowed the culture to determine their attitudes, thoughts, and behavior with little to no resistance. 
  • As a result, Christians in large measure are no longer impacting the culture. Our culture is changing us
What about you?

  • Have you ever bought into what society says will make you happy and pursued those things? 
  • Have you allowed how the world sees you to affect how you see yourself?
  • Have you ever adapted your behavior to fit into a group?
  • Have you compromised your principles to get ahead?
  • Have you adopted society's values over God's values?
  • Have you focused on security in the world (money, etc.) above security in God?
  • Have you worked to earn the love of the "world" instead of valuing and accepting the love of God that's freely given to you?
  • Have you allowed the world to determine your attitudes, behavior, and thoughts? 
If we're honest, we can all admit that we've answered yes to at least one of these questions. (Unfortunately, I said yes to more than one.) If you have, you have experienced the reality of living from the outside in.

Think about these things as you make your resolutions for this year. Then come back later this week and we'll look at what it means to live from the inside out. In fact, this is the first post in a new series on this subject. 

Never forget how important you are to God. You are important to me too. I'm always glad to see you here at The Warming House. Hope to see you again soon!


Give me your feedback: What do you think of the Barna Group study and the comments of my husband's friends? Have you recognized the same issues? What are your struggles as you maneuver our culture today? How have you been affected by Christians who live from the outside in?

Written by Lisa @ The Warming House