Lifeblood is about Tapping Into Jesus as the True Source of Renewal

Tapping Into Jesus as the True Source of Renewal

Out June 26

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It's hard though, isn't it? The reason so many Christians struggle to grow in their faith, the reason they fight habitual sin, the reason they just attend church rather than connect with other believers on a deep emotional level is that they are faking their way through the Christian life. The heart changes when we confess Christ, but it also changes day by day when we seek him consistently. And I don't mean morning devotions for only five minutes. The idea with lifeblood is that we swim out into the deep end in our faith because we are having deep personal communion with Christ and so begin abiding with him in the wellspring of our daily routines. It means our every word and action flows from this communion, not from our own effort. When we commit to this kind of communion with God, our hearts change, the lifeblood flows, and our actions become a result of our commitment to rely on God's power.

It's amazing how many Christians don't spend time with God. We get a little conceited, and we get bored reading the Bible each day. But when this happens, our view of the spiritual disciplines is rooted in false thinking. We think the disciplines themselves will help us grow; we don't realize that the disciplines must always have a root in a relationship with our Savior, which is the critical component of this communion.

In fact, it's possible to read a book like Richard Foster's seminal work from 1978 called Celebration of Discipline, nod in agreement, meet in a study group, tell people you've read the book, announce you are a prayer warrior, and even attempt to follow the instructions about prayer and fasting, among other things, but to make it all a rote exercise or purely intellectual. What's missing? Utter devotion to our Savior. Life-changing faith in Jesus.

That's what's so great about lifeblood thinking. It's not about a scheduled activity. It's not about a scripted prayer. It's not about a Sunday service ritual. It's 100 percent total abandonment to a deep and abiding relationship with Christ that always takes center stage. We can't wait to get up in the morning and meet with Jesus, because we need the spiritual energy. We can't wait to go to church, because we need a message of hope flowing through our veins. We can't wait to go out on the mission field and share our faith, because our faith was renewed that very morning. It's not about "let go and let God." It's let God, then go.

The opposite of this thought process is a little frightening and much too common: doing everything in our own strength. We connect with people at church because we're amazingly gifted socially, or we lead worship because we have a voice like an angel. We even read books (not this one though!) looking for conviction that will cause us to make changes and become a little more serious about serving, tithing more of our money, or loving others. These aren't bad things unless we focus only on the action. The phrase "there is power in the blood" means that the power comes from Christ's blood as our source of spiritual strength. Too often we focus on the action because that's what we can control. We see the immediate outcome.

I've lived that. I've picked up Christian books with the intention of being convicted enough to do something different in my life and somehow change my attitude about Christianity. It's an act of desperation, yet it's still an act—it's still something I'm trying to do instead of just seeking more communion with Christ. Yes, it's important to think about our motivations: Do we really want to learn more? Do we want to be convicted? Do we want to act differently? Do we want to think purer thoughts? Do we want to attain a new level of maturity? But all the things we try to do as Christians to grow in our faith pale in comparison to just finding a deeper bond with God. All the knowledge we can accumulate fails in comparison to developing an abiding love for a Savior. Then, when we tap in deeply, we are propelled by him, not ourselves.

How does that work? In many ways, it starts with an intentional attitude. When we cross the threshold of our churches, we should go with the attitude that we have a deep desire to tap into the lifeblood. We are there to put on our own oxygen masks and then help everyone else with theirs—after we have the power to actually impact them through Christ. We must see our personal lives, marriages, families, jobs, and churches as opportunities for us to both receive and show spiritual depth—that's the sign of a changed heart. It starts with us changing our perspectives about why we are even doing spiritual things in the first place and is followed by actions that come from a place of true devotion to God and not false allegiance.

As Christians, many of us don't like to talk about the blood of Jesus. It sounds weird. In fact, I know a few Christians who don't even like to talk about communion. A few chalk it up as an ancient ritual or an old-world superstition—something that doesn't apply anymore. They say that it's better to see communion as a thought experiment. You should remember Christ's death and resurrection. They leave out the bread and the wine (aka the grape juice). Jesus didn't really intend for us to see any real meaning behind it, they say. We're not supposed to drink anything or eat anything. Communion is more of a concept than a practice. It's no longer relevant.

I understand why people get grossed out by the idea of the body and the blood. When we read the communion passage in 1 Corinthians 11:23–26, it does seem a bit outdated or even weird:

I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, "This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me." In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me." For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death.

Wait, really? Drink the blood? Eat the body? For this reason early Christians were called cannibals. It's true that the blood of Jesus is all over the New Testament as a reminder of his sacrifice for us on the cross. Yet I think there is a second meaning that's more than mere remembrance, more than something we look back on with a fond memory.

My view is this: the blood of Jesus is supposed to be life changing. And that life-changing communion is supposed to be daily. It's not a ritual. It's a way to live our entire lives.

What if Jesus was serious in John 6:56 when he said we are to drink his blood? Not that serious—we're not supposed to be vampires. Yet the story behind this act of consuming the blood of Christ that leads to eternal life has a deeper meaning. No, we don't take the blood as a way to earn salvation. Rather, we are supposed to live as though we are exchanging our blood for his. We're supposed to act out of a changed heart, not act without first seeking him with our whole hearts. We're supposed to actually rely on the blood of Jesus.

Yes, this act of remembering is profound. But it is even more profound when we remember daily, which is what some of us have lost in our Christian journeys.

A believer once told me he was surprised people would reduce the Christian life down to a simple daily devotional and prayer life. He insisted that true maturity was more about learning the advanced teachings of Scripture. What he seemed to forget is that this "simple" devotional and prayer life is where we develop maturity. We're meeting with the God of the universe over coffee. That's more important than anything.

Here's the whole passage from John 6:53–57 that explains it all:

Jesus said to them, "Very truly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day. For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in them. Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me."

Do you have this life in you? Do you have this lifeblood? That's what this book is about. The lifeblood is about more than just an act of remembering. It's about living as though we actually believe what we are trying to remember. Lifeblood living is also more than praying a prayer of salvation. It's praying daily to live as though we have Christ's blood flowing through us and in us. The lifeblood is more than a song (as Sonicflood once sang about). It's something profound coursing through our veins in such a way that we can't help but be wholly devoted to the one who gave us lifeblood in the first place.

In addition to that, lifeblood living is an exchange. We need a daily transfusion, not just on Sundays and not just when we happen to pull out a Bible and read a verse. We get caught in this trap of thinking about the blood only when we take communion or when the pastor at church talks about Jesus dying on the cross for our sins. But that's dangerous, because it's too easy for us to go back to old patterns of thought: we battle temptation, we try to do good, and we crack open the Bible on occasion. We don't accept the possibility that deep life-altering communion with Jesus is possible every minute of the day.

Wait—every minute of the day? Seriously? It doesn't make sense, right? We have jobs to do and kids to feed. There's golf on Saturday and hockey practice tomorrow night. No one can live 100 percent fully committed to Christ in every word and action. It's just not possible. But what if it is? What if the measure of true spiritual maturity is not how much we know about the Bible or how many times we go to church? What if it is more about how much we are transformed by the blood of Christ and how much we lean on him for every decision we make in life? What if the true measure of maturity is more about how much we've been totally transformed by the blood of Jesus? What could we accomplish then?

I used to struggle with the instruction in 1 Thessalonians 5:17 that says we are to "pray continually." Huh? How is that possible? Yet I've come to realize that having the lifeblood of Jesus means we really do pray constantly, because we are constantly tapped into him as the source of our spiritual fulfillment. When we are tapped into this source, we can overcome sin. We can pack our bags and head overseas and work with orphans in Uganda. We can humble ourselves enough to stop and seek forgiveness from a spouse who feels neglected.

Of course, the big question is how. We can agree with the idea of spiritual transfusion as a concept, but how do we make it a reality? It might seem like a nice idea to let Jesus guide our every decision all day long. It might seem fine to live with utter spiritual conviction. Maybe we agree with the core concept that maturity comes through the exchange of our actions, our thoughts, and our ambitions to become those of our Savior. The hard part is figuring out how to do that in a genuine way. The hard part is living that out even on the days when we feel miserable. Yet when Jesus told us that he is the bread of life, it wasn't just a nice idea.

We're supposed to believe that and live as if eating the bread is important. We're supposed to live for the bread. We're supposed to take it seriously.

Lifeblood is a way to examine the actions in our own lives against the truth of our own transfusions. Every decision, every act, every thought—they all have to be fueled by genuine transfusion. We won't ever change in any tangible ways if we don't see the act of daily communion in our lives as critically important to the Christian life. We will be stuck with the same old blood. We will sink to the bottom of the lake with spiritual hypothermia, our oxygen depleted and our souls disconnected from the only real life giver.

As tempting as it might be to jump in and start talking about the lifeblood in our churches or workplaces, the act of spiritual transfusion starts with our own thought lives. It starts with our own devotions. It can start with nothing more than our own silent, life-changing prayer in the morning or studying one passage and meditating on what it really means. As we will see, the lifeblood branches out from there to our friendships, marriages, and families and eventually to a wider circle of influence—our churches, workplaces, and communities.

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