I was studying the book of Revelation recently, and was reading the passage that contains the letter dictated to the church in Sardis (Revelation 3:1-6). As I read, I could not help but see the parallels between them and the current American church. I encourage you to take a moment to read the short passage above to provide context to this post.
Archives for January 2012
Think on These Things, Part 2
In my previous post (see “Think on These Things, Part 1”) we discussed the importance of what we allowed into our minds. I’d like to continue that discussion today. If you recall, we focused our attention on Philippians 4:8, which says, “Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable—if there is any moral excellence and if there is any praise—dwell on these things.” (HCSB). So what does this look like as we apply it in our daily lives?
Think on These Things, Part 1
I think we all recognize the importance of the food we allow to enter into our bodies. If we eat a lot of sweets or fried and unhealthy foods, we’re going to be fat, lazy and sick. When we eat healthy fruits and vegetables while limiting our intake of the less healthy stuff, we will be reasonably trim, energetic and healthy. Whether we choose to eat the right foods or not is an issue unto itself, but my point is we all understand at an intellectual level what we should eat and the consequences of not doing so. Yet when it comes to what we feed our minds, we seem to be much more reckless and perhaps even unaware of the consequences.
Live Every Moment
Living a life wholly devoted to following Christ is not normal. People will look at you strange as you go about your days in service to others. You’ll be laughed at, ostracized, avoided and ignored. Jesus made people uncomfortable in their selfishness, and when we live lives that look like His, we will do the same. This can lead to us becoming discouraged, but it is at this moment that we must remind ourselves that it is not about us; it’s about reflecting and demonstrating the love of Jesus to everyone else. When we keep the mission of Christ in focus, we will realize that no amount of ridicule or persecution is unbearable in light of what we have been chosen to do.
Are You a Follower of Christ?
An Indian college professor once told a Christian student of his that, “If you Christians lived like Jesus, all of India would accept Christ”. How undeniably tragic; if those of us who professed to follow Jesus Christ actually did so, the world would be changed and rocked to its core. This raises a baffling question for me. Why would someone choose to be a Christian and then live as if the choice was never made? Why is it so many surrender their lives to Jesus only to walk in ways that are diametrically opposed to His teachings? What is it they hope to gain?
Perhaps the Western Christianity of the past couple hundred years is to blame. We have taught a salvation possible with minimal effort and even less commitment. Pray this magic prayer and save yourself from a fiery hell, no further action on your part will be necessary! The notion of such teaching conjures up images of a carnival barker yelling out to every passerby. But this is not the Gospel of Jesus Christ; this is not the Good News we are to take throughout the world. It is not the message and mission of Jesus that we find in the Bible.
Becoming a Christian, a little Christ, one who looks like Jesus, requires action and a lifelong commitment to carrying out the instructions given to us by the very Son of God. Jesus is not simply a commodity, or a lucky ticket out of Hell. Rather He is a priceless gift, the means by which we can experience life as it was meant to be lived both here on earth and in His presence for eternity. If we see Christ as an escape route from pain and suffering, we will never understand what it truly means to know Him; He will simply remain a distant Savior who we claim to know in a casual sense. If instead we see Him as a loving Lord who is worthy of all our honor and effort, we will come to know Him fully and find rest in His comfort and peace.
It is only by becoming intimately familiar with His heart and His ways that we be able to become true followers of Christ. Until our heart breaks for the things that His does, until we see every person as a valuable and special creation, we will not be able to carry out His mission. This is what it means to follow Jesus: to know Him, to love Him, and to imitate Him. This is so much more than simply praying a prayer and claiming to now be a “Christian”. Until it means something, it means nothing. Going to church won’t save you, saying a prayer won’t make you a Christian, and reading the Bible will not get it done. Becoming a follower of Christ requires putting your entire life and trust in Him alone. It requires doing the work He created you to do; it means loving Him above all else and sharing His love with the world.
Following Jesus means we must walk the path that He walked. You can’t follow someone by heading in an opposite direction. We must do the things Christ did; He has specifically gifted us in unique ways to do work that only we can do (1 Corinthians 12:4-11; Ephesians 2:10). Beyond our belief in Him, a true follower of Christ does what Christ did; we live as He lived. If you aren’t serious about surrendering absolutely everything to Jesus, don’t waste your time becoming a lip-service Christian. This is not a path for the faint of heart; it’s a road of suffering, a life of intense highs and excruciating lows. As followers of Jesus we are on an unstoppable mission. We do not faint and we will not turn back. This is as serious and real as it gets. You can keep your so-called “Christianity”. I choose to follow Christ.