How do I live by a Code?

written by J. A. Hart and Chris Hartenstein
Last week, we left you with some specific calibration questions to think about. The last one was:

What is one action you can take to move from pitch to code this week?

That question may have stumped you. How do we actually live by a code, and one that is worth living?

That’s a fantastic question, let’s dive deeper.

How do we actually live by a code?

At the heart of every code, we find desire because desire drives action. Most of us desire good things. We like to think we do a lot of good things too, and we might. We may give to charities, help an elder at the grocery, or buy someone else’s dinner in the drive through line. Those are all good things, but we have to be honest and ask ourselves, “Why did we do that?”

If we are honest with ourselves, we find the answer usually comes down to two things: self-preservation or self-denial.

If I am honest with myself, a lot of the good things I do comes from a desire for self-preservation. Many times, when I am asked to do something, I get annoyed. I think to myself, “Damn, I don’t want to do that, but I don’t want to come across as a jerk, so I guess I’ll smile and wave, even though that’s the last thing I want to do.” With that thought, I begrudgingly do what I am asked. It sounds like a high schooler’s way of thinking, but left to our own devices, do we not act like this? And all for a false image with the want of a “prize”?

We pitch to ourselves, saying “If I only do A,B, and C, I will get X, Y, and Z, and truly be a (fill in the blank) person.” But we never achieve, X,Y, and Z; we instead end up with W, 6, and purple. We do this in church, school, work, community- you name it. Whatever pitch seems to promise what we need to get what we want, we accept it. When we find the prize falls short of the promise, we act like a movie executive, “Pass. On to the next pitch!”

But this isn’t a true code, and it truly isn’t what Jesus promises right? He promises life to the full, and yet, we feel we can’t go a day without acting from our imposter selves. We accept pitch after pitch, with no end in sight.

How do we live by Jesus’ code?

Living by Jesus’ code is simple, but not easy. If we take Mark Sayers definition from last week, we could say a code is, “Motivated by a higher religious or communal duty. Self-denying for a higher cause.” Yet, even that doesn’t help us actually live it out.

Jesus lays this out simply for us, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”  In this one sentence, Jesus lays to rest the tension of code.  

He points out four key ways we can live by his code.

1. You must desire.

“If anyone would come after me…”

If desire is at the heart of code, then we must desire, but we must place our desire into the right hands. We desire to be good and made whole; it is a good desire. If we place that desire into our imposter’s hands, we will come to ruin and death.

We must place our desire into our Heavenly Dad’s hands. He knows what we want, and he also knows the path we can take to find what we want. His path leads us to life.

To live by Jesus’ code, you must desire, placing your desire for life into His hands.

2. You must deny your imposter.
 

“...let him deny himself…”

Jesus promises, “Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”

We must deny our imposters a voice in our lives. To live His code, Jesus asks us to leave behind all of our imposter self to step into who we truly are. When we find ourselves living by a pitch, we need to take a step back and ask, “What part of my imposter self keeps me here?” Invite Jesus to reveal this to you, and then release it to Him.

To live by Jesus’ code, you must release who you think you are, with hope to find who you truly are.

3. Understand the enemies you face.

“...and take up his cross…”

You may be thinking, well, Jesus’ promise could be like a pitch. He’s promising life, but I don’t see “life” around me right now.

Here’s why it isn’t. A pitch promises the good life and doesn’t come through. Jesus promises no such thing. He knows the enemies you face: the imposter and the world. He faced them too.

In John 16, he tells his disciples of the coming atrocities they face, including, but not limited to death. He doesn’t sugarcoat it. There isn’t any, “Live by this code, and all will go well for you.” No, he says you will face even death if you deny yourself. You will “carry your cross,” but then He says, “...take heart, I have overcome the world.”

To live by Jesus’ code, you must understand the enemies you face and still trust his promises.

4. You must follow him.


“...and follow me.”

This is vital. If we are to live by Jesus’ code, we must follow him. No matter what we may face in the wilderness, whether it be darkness or even death. When Jesus says, “Follow me,” we follow him. And how do we know he is calling us? We listen. We spend time in community with Jesus and our Heavenly Dad. It’s the only way we can truly follow well.

To live by Jesus’ code, you must listen and follow the Trinity daily.

Living by Jesus’ code is simple, but not easy. Jesus says, “ I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd.” If we live by his code, trusting in who he is and who he says we are, he will lead us through the darkest nights into the most vibrant dawns.

Calibration Questions:
- Knowing what you know now about code, do you live by code? Why or why not?
- If you live by a code, is it Jesus’ code?
- In what ways do you self-preserve? Where do you let your imposter self have the final word?
- What is one pitch you live by?
- How do you move from living by that pitch to living by Jesus’ code?

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