And no, I’m not talking about politics – frankly, whether you vote Republican or Democrat, it doesn’t change your eternity. What I’m talking about today is this: do you defend the world or do you defend the word?
I feel like within the Christian subculture, there is much defense of Christians being significantly involved in things of the world. Christians adamantly defend their right to drink alcohol and still be a Christian (or even a pastor), to get a divorce/divorces, to have premarital/extramarital sex, to look at pornography, to smoke cigarettes/other things, and yet there a few Christians that believe that they need to be more holy and have a desire to be more like Christ and less like the world.
As Christians, it seems somewhat strange to think that those who will not watch TV because of the incessant filth that accompanies it get stranger looks than those who like to claim they can be homosexuals and still be Christians.
Please do not misunderstand me: I am not trying to convince you of the need to lean to the right or to the left: I ask that you simply consider whether or not you spend more time trying to defend your Christian liberty to immerse yourself in things of the world, or if you attempt to keep yourself from any form of ungodliness and unrighteousness.
There seems to be an attitude that allows some to “toe the line” on Christianity, and try to see how close to sin they can get without sinning: this, in itself, is a sinful attitude. There are few who vigorously pursue holiness above all else. Which are you?
I sometimes contemplate what life would be like if I were not a Christian. I do not think about this in a desirable way (i.e., I wish I were not a Christian), but I enjoy thinking about how the Lord has provided for me and how he has poured out his grace on me.
Sometimes this thinking leads me to think about what my objections to Christianity would be if I were not a Christian, and my biggest objection would be this:
“How can my infinite dwelling place be determined by my finite decisions?” or, stated differently
“Why is whether I go to heaven or hell determined by my response to someone who lived thousands of years ago on the earth?”
This is where I see something called Moralistic Therapeutic Deism in our everyday lives. MTD basically says that God is there and God loves me but he is not altogether concerned with my everyday life. When I need God, he will come and help but I do not have to do anything significant to follow him. This is wrong.
Most people, Christian and non-Christian alike, share the common thought that if you are a good person, and you do good things and the good things you do outweigh the bad and you love other people then you will go to heaven when you die. This is wrong.
So the answer to my thought and question is actually another question. It seems I am asking the wrong question all along.
“Why would a God who has all things and needs nothing want me to spend an eternity with Him?”
“What could I have done to deserve the opportunity to repent for the sins I commit against the character of God?”
Do you ever doubt your faith? Do you ever think about things like this?
For the past few weeks, Brittany and I have been attending The Summit Church in North Raleigh, and J.D. Greear has been teaching about how to know that you have salvation.
The most interesting point the J.D. has made from 1 John 1:5-6 is that if you have been in darkness and you come into the light, you have a desire to retreat back into the darkness. The light is harsh and it makes you close your eyes until you adjust to the light. But once someone comes from the darkness into the light, you must be impacted by the light.
So many people who have an encounter with Christ are resistant to him. Christianity, like Paul said, is foolishness to those who do not understand. But to have an encounter with God is to be changed; if you believe that you are a Christian, you cannot live as if you are not one. If you live as if you are not a Christian, you probably aren’t one.
J.D. also points out that your goals and thoughts point to your assurance. If the things that are important to you do not involve Christ, you might not be saved. If your focus is on getting married/sports/drinking/money/your job/school and yet you cannot find time to focus on Christ, this shows that you think those things are heavy and Jesus is light. If you think much of the Los Angeles Lakers and little of Jesus, you might not be saved.
Finally, if you choose to obey the Bible in some parts (death of Christ, resurrection, etc.) but not in others (tithing, homosexuality, gossip, etc.), it shows that you have made Christ your savior, but not your Lord. If you have made Christ your Lord, it means that where you disagree with the Bible, then the Bible is right and you are wrong: this is the definition of Lordship. If this sounds like you, examine your heart and see if Jesus is Lord. Jesus is right and you are wrong.
I hope that you have given your life to Christ and seek to glorify him in all that you do; but if you have not, the Lord asks that you to lay down your life in submission to him; acknowledge that Jesus is the payment for your sins and that you will serve Him because of his love for you.
Disclaimer: there are not only two types of Christians. These are two distinct opposites that I noticed last week.
Category 1: Those who are infatuated with Christian celebrities. These are tweets from the live feed of Passion.
What this Christian celebrity feeds is the common theology of Moralistic Therapeutic Deism, meaning that God is good and he loves us but he is not concerned with every facet of my life. He is there when I need him and his love is good and makes me feel good but the fact that Jesus laid down his life for my sin does not mean that I have to fully devote my life to the Kingdom of God.
There is NOTHING wrong with enjoying a specific pastor or speaker or worship band or worship style. Do not misunderstand me. But when your desire to attend a conference or church is based on WHO is there instead of the God who is being worshipped, you are being selfish.
I believe the heart of those who lead Passion and the heart of the majority who attend is to see the name of Jesus lifted high. It would be foolish to pretend that there are not those who attend only because of Chan/Lecrae/Piper/Crowder/Just because their friends are there.
Category 2: Those who seek to worship God in all situations
There are many people who take the Kingdom of God seriously enough that they can worship God in a small church with hymns and a little old lady who plays the organ and they can worship God in a megachurch with a band and 10,000 others and know that the Lord is being lifted high in your life. When people like this are on the mission field, they can find refuge in the Lord instead of relying on a person.
Too often I find myself in category one when I desire to be in category two. May all of us continue to find our foundation in the Lord and in the Cross of Christ rather than this season’s famous Christian Celebrity.
Every year around this time, I am reminded that Passion is right around the corner. For those of you who do not know, Passion is a conference held in Atlanta for 18-25 year olds, focused on the worship and glory of God.
I have had the pleasure of attending the past two years, and my walk with God has been enhanced every time; however, I have three major fears about the passion conference:
1. Many who attend Passion do not care to live out the Christian faith when they return home. Some of the greatest speakers and worship leaders in the world are at passion every year, and it never fails that there are emotionally driven moments where the Holy Spirit is moving. The most dangerous thing about this is that as soon as you get on the bus to come home, you forget everything that happened that week, and you never witness to your coworkers and classmates.
2. The Christian Subculture and Church Celebrity is magnified during this time. With names like David Platt, Francis Chan, John Piper, Chris Tomlin, Matt Redman, Lecrae, and Jesus Culture, sometimes we have the propensity to place all of the value on the singer/speaker and none of the value on the Lord. We cannot continue to exalt men at a conference that is supposed to be about exalting God.
3. Sometimes, we tend to place all of the importance on large events, and forget that our walk with God lies on a day to day basis. If we continue to rely on large retreats/camps/conferences like passion to fuel our walk with Christ, then we have no walk at all. If you do not walk with Christ on a daily basis, Passion will do very little to help your walk with God.
I am extremely grateful for Passion Conference, Louie Giglio and all of the others that spend their time and energy to put on Passion. Some of the greatest worship experiences I have had came at Passion. But I beg you: if you are going to Passion for any reason other than the fact that you want to see God’s name lifted high, stay home.
Ha! Just kidding.
but here are some thoughts I saved from this Sunday’s sermon:
Many times, even as a youth minister, students and adults have confessed ways in which they struggle with sin. Pornography, jealousy, gossip, lust, and lying were some of the most common. But in all my time as a Christian, never have I heard someone confess that they struggle with greed.
Jesus spends more time talking about how you spend your money than any other topic. Jesus seems to be most concerned with our materialistic ways.
Yet no one seems concerned that MAYBE they spend too much money on themselves and not on others. Our wallets seem to be the place that we are least likely to examine our holiness.
So let me ask you: how much of your money is designated for your wants, and how much is designated for the glorification of God, the spreading of the Gospel, and the growth of the Kingdom?
May we seek to exalt the Lord with our finances.