My daughter, Eva, took up sewing a few years ago. She started a business making and selling aprons. She chooses unique fabrics and tries different details: lace, pockets, elastic straps, etc, etc. She puts unique and creative detail work in, but there’s one thing that always stays the same: the pattern. The pattern is the size and design for the body of the apron. The add-ons and extras can change, but if the pattern changes then what you get is something completely different.
In sewing it’s all about the pattern. If you want to make an apron, then you need the right pattern. If you use a pattern for pants, you won’t get an apron. This may seem like one of those “duh” moments, but I think it’s an important distinction for us. You see, I think we often try to get Christ-like results with a worldly pattern. Let me say that in a slightly different way: If we want Christ-like results, then we need the same pattern for our lives that Christ used for his! This is what we spent the last month talking about at Shoreline Cov.
In our sermon series entitled “Three Great Loves,” we looked at the pattern we find in the life of Jesus. Jesus allowed his three great loves to be the shape of his life: UP with the Father, IN with other believers, and OUT with the lost. In the first chapter of Mark’s Gospel we see Jesus going away by himself to pray, calling people to himself as his closest disciples and companions, and going out to bring healing, wholeness, and good news to the lost. This is the pattern of a Kingdom-Shaped Life!
We as Christians can easily get caught up in using the wrong pattern for our lives. We can get so focused on our own Christian community that we forget that Jesus came with the same mission that he gave to us: to seek and save the lost (go OUT). Or we can get so caught up with serving the lost that we forget to get away to a quiet place to pray (go UP). And sometimes we get so focused on our personal relationship with God that we forget to encourage and challenge one another as fellow believers (go IN).
There are lots of patterns for life. The world offers us patterns for gaining power, money, fame, success, beauty, and so on. And in our faith there are also patterns for achieving worldly success. But if our desire is to see Kingdom fruit, then we need to have a Christ-like pattern. If we want to see God’s Kingdom come and God’s will be done on earth as it is in heaven, then we need to pattern our individual lives, our family lives, and our community life after the rhythm of Jesus: UP, IN, OUT, repeat! I’m excited to continue discovering God’s plan for us as we learn to pattern ourselves after the Three Great Loves of Jesus!