The problem of the Christian life, is to live sweetly through the common days. Our religion must not all be crowded into our Sundays. True religion is friendship with Christ — and this is not satisfied by the mere observance of religious days, or by faithful attendance upon religious service.
Anybody should be able to be good, gentle, kindly, on Sundays. Anybody can talk in religious phrase among religious people. But the real test of life, comes in the days between the Sundays, when one is out among people who are not sweet and patient, not devout and reverent, not even easy to get along with. This may not be an easy problem — but it is the problem of Christian life. We are just as truly bound to represent Christ when at our worldly work — as we are at a prayer meeting. We are to manifest the spirit of Christ, which is the spirit of meekness, of humility, of forbearance, of sympathy, of love — wherever we go. We are to be active in helping others, in doing good, not only on Sundays — but on all the week days. Every day of our life is sacred, and sins of unlovingness should never stain the whiteness of any week-day hour!
If we would realize the divine ideal on all the days and in every place — we need to have our hearts filled with the love of Christ.
This is really the essential thing in a Christian. His life is inspired from within. His heart is dominated by Christ's own love. The Master says his people are branches on the great Vine. The vine lives in the branches — Christ lives in his people.
John, the beloved disciple, received his beautiful life by close abiding in Christ. His friendship with Christ became so deep, so absorbing, that Christ's life flowed into his very heart and then flowed out in all the expressions of his life! There is no other way of becoming an ideal Christian! Christ must live in us, or we cannot live the Christ life.
The difficulty with most people, is to keep Christ in their lives amid the secularities of everyday living! However devout and reverent we may be when engaged in worship, however conscious of the presence of Christ, and however willing to yield ourselves to the influence of that presence — the danger is that when we go out into the world, we lose the sacred power which has held such sway over us in our devotions.
One of Paul's exhortations is helpful. He said, "Pray without ceasing." This does not mean that we are to be always on our knees, engaged in formal prayer. We have duties to perform. God would never approve of our neglecting our proper responsibilities, in order to spend the time in formal prayer. The meaning of the exhortation is that we are always to be in the spirit of prayer.
We should never get away from our Master's side. There never should be a moment when we cannot look up into his face and talkto him with simple confidence, and receive his encouragement and help.
The secret of the noble life of Moses is given in one sentence: "He endured as seeing him who is invisible!" His faith made the presence of God as real to him, as if God had actually been present to his natural eyes continually. If we would practice the presence of God as Moses did — we would always be able to live reverently, obediently, patiently and acceptably.
Another thought is that we should take everything to God in prayer. This does not mean that we shall be continually falling upon our knees and asking God's help. We can pray as we walk, and as we work. If we are so close to Christ as to be always conscious of his presence — it is easy for us to speak to him our wishes and our desires, to turn to him in time of danger, to plead his help when the pressure of duty is upon us.
We are often told that we should begin every day with prayer. But besides this, we may perform each different duty of the day with prayer. That was part of what Paul meant when he said, "Whatever you do, in word or in deed — do all in the name of the Lord Jesus."
That is, every word we speak should be winged with prayer. If we lived thus, all our words would be good words.
We are to do all of our acts, too, in the name of the Lord Jesus. Think of a business man going through all his day's affairs with prayer — praying as he makes bargains, as he writes business letters, as he talks with men. Think of a woman, amid her household cares, taking everything to God for his approval and his blessing. We do not know what we miss by leaving God out of so much of our life as we do. We often wonder why we fail, why so little comes of our efforts, why we do not get along better with people. It is because we do not pray!
"Oh, what peace we often forfeit,
Oh, what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer!"
"But we have not time to pray so much!" someone says. It does not take time. A certain man was mighty in prayer. One who wished to learn the secret of his devotions, watched to see how the saint prayed. All he saw was this — again and again the godly man was heard saying, with bowed head and clasped hands, "Help, Lord Jesus!" That was the way he prayed. It wastes no time to speak that prayer as we enter a new path, or begin a new task, or meet a new struggle.