Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Not of the world, but sent into it.

There is this quote I want to share, which is my mantra of sorts right now. 

You see, it's been on my heart a lot lately that I need to learn to love well, to make people feel like they matter and are loved by God, but still stand my ground when it matters most. It's something I tend to struggle with, as most of the time I either just want to tell others my beliefs and not love them like Jesus, or I want to just ignore the confrontation and hide in my bed and pretend that I'm okay with everything that's happening. But not everything happening nowadays is okay, and many people look at Christianity in ways that are contrary to what is written in God's word. It's not alright for me to just stand by idly, and say "yeah, this is alright" when it isn't. 

While it is important, extremely important, to share the love of God with others, and to love them as they deserve to be loved, it is still important to stand up for your faith and what you believe in. Of course, it is just as important that you do so in love, but that's for another post another day. But the fact remains that it's not okay to stand by and let others lead themselves into ruin and temptation just because you don't want to be uncomfortable, or because you're afraid. In fact, it's so not okay, that Jesus says "but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea." (Matthew 18:6) Pretty serious, right? Kind of makes you realize that just being passive isn't quite what God intended.

So this quote really struck me. It kind of addresses everything I've been thinking, but haven't quite been able to put into words. It's from Paul Washer, and he says: 

"Most of our Christianity is based on cliches that we read on the back of Christian t-shirts. Most our Christianity comes from songwriters and not the bible. Most of what we believe is dictated to us through culture and not by the bible. The bible never teaches that a person can be a genuine Christian and live in continuous carnality and wickedness and sin all the days of their life. But the bible teaches that the genuine Christian has been given a new nature. The genuine Christian has a father who love them and disciplines them and watches over them and cares for them." 

I've always felt that cultural Christianity is pointless, because if you live just like everyone else, why believe in Jesus in the first place? What good is Jesus to you, if you don't follow anything he says? I always come back to that 
C. S. Lewis quote that talks about Jesus being either a liar, Lord, or a lunatic. We either have to accept everything that he teaches as truth, whether we like it or not, or we have to conclude that Jesus isn't worth our time. There is no middle ground, no "I like this verse about Jesus loving me, but I'll ignore those verses about not gossiping because I like to do that."

Basically, the world needs Jesus. We all know that. But if we as Christians look nothing like him, then how will the world know us? How will they see that the joy and peace and every gift he gives to us is real when we look just like they do? When we do the same things they do, speak the same way they speak, and act the same way they act? Our faith needs to be based on God's word. Our salvation, and salvation of others depends upon it. To me, that's worth ruffling some feathers, if we can bring them closer to God.

Again, don't get me wrong, if your first reaction to this is to say "Good. Now I can go and lecture so-and-so on their sins and what they're doing wrong!" then you are doing it wrong. This should make you think "I really need to work on learning more about God, and what his word says is the right thing to do, so that I can be a living example to others and maybe when they ask me questions or tell me something I don't agree with I can respond in the way that God intended me to." Work on the plank in your eye first, and all that. 

But yeah, this is just something that's been stirring in my heart recently. I think that we're about to see a big split in Christianity as we know it. The cultural acceptance of Christianity, and it's acceptance as the general moral compass, are changing. Christianity is no longer the culturally accepted thing to do. And with this shift in acceptance, people will go one of three ways. They will either stick with Jesus and experience personal spiritual growth, all the while beginning to look less and less like the world and more and more like Jesus. Or, people will create a shallow version of Christianity, with all of the socializing bits, like services and worship and meeting together, but lose all of the depth that Christ calls us to, all while becoming more and more like the world with the only difference being they read a bible once or twice a month and attend a few services here and there. Or, people will just abandon and scorn Christianity for being shallow, and full of hypocrites. 

All of these things I already see happening everyday, but I think it's about to get a whole lot more common to see a politically correct Christian, or someone completely against the church, than it will be to see your average "I just really love Jesus and want to be more like him" sort of Christian. So to me, it is more imparative than ever to take this time to look not to what society is saying, but to what God has already said. We need to be a bonfire in the darkness if we want to show the love of Christ, not a flickering flashlight. And the only way to do that, is to spend more and more time becoming like Christ, and less and less time worrying about what the political state of our country is like, or what society is saying is right and wrong, or what others are whispering about us behind our backs. What's most important is to love God, and to follow after his commands, more and more. And through that, and only through that, will we truly know how to love others the way that God intended.

(Title is inspired by this post from desiringGod.)

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