"For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope...May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ." --Romans 15:4-6Life in this world is hard for followers of Jesus. It is a narrow path, entered by the narrow gate, Jesus Himself. And the path is alive with dangers, difficulty and joys in the middle of it all. Those who really want to live for Christ must do it completely in His strength, and be willing to give up everything for His sake.
Today I call you to this life. Are you willing to leave the cushioned, comfortable life of the wealthy churches and embark on the Spirit-led and Spirit-empowered life on the heights with our Lord? Are you willing to try? Because God will enable you. He will take your feeble knees and weak arms and make you into a mighty Lover and Warrior in His Kingdom. He takes the weak and the insignificant, the poor and the foolish things of this world and shames the wise and powerful with His transformation of them. He loves those who He calls, and He will give them the Kingdom of God, as He promised.
But we can't do this alone. We who choose this Way must band together with brothers and sisters who also seek the Lord out of a pure heart. Together we form Christ's ekklesia, His "called out to come together" people. We are given many analogies in Scripture designed to help us understand who we are together in Christ. We need each other, and not just "playing church" on Sunday mornings.
Are you tired of the games? Then let's encourage and build up one another in our faith in Christ Jesus. Participate with me in this adventure, this high calling, this narrow Way, as I follow Christ myself. Far from perfect, with many flaws, nevertheless I have experienced a rebirth and renewal, and have given up everything in recent times to follow my friend Jesus (yes, He calls us His friends!--see John 15:12-15). He calls us out of the life of compromise with the world which our well-marketed and slickly-designed churches have been living, wanting to give us New Wine in New Wineskins. The old man-made forms and institutions are incapable of holding the rich life He commands in His Word.
I declare to you today that God is love, and His commands are that we love Him without limits, and love each other without limits. We are called out from the world to lay down our lives as Christ did. (John 15:12) We are to give up our own interests and take upon ourselves the interests of Christ Jesus. (Phil. 2:1-4) We are to forsake all other ambitions except our ambition to build the Kingdom of God. (Luke 12:29-31) When we come to Christ, if we are truly in Christ, these commands are obeyed in us.
We must examine ourselves today. Are we truly in the faith? Or are we just "churchians"? Are we living letters of God to each other, or just shiny brochures for "the good life" of this world? Are we willing to give up our lattes and cappucinos (and oh, how I love them!) for our brother down the street who needs his electric bill paid? Are we 24/7 disciples or just disciples for 24 minutes of devotional time each day? Or is that 7 minutes every 24 days?? Do we say we love Jesus, but won't spend our time and love on the least of His people?
If we must confess, as I had to confess, that most of my life has been spent on myself, and my own selfish ambitions for security, comfort and fun, then we are not in Christ. Because He demands and expects a life of absolute love and obedience from His followers. No matter what pedigree we have, or what wealth we've accumulated, or how good our life appears. No matter even that we've attended church and tithed and faithfully gone to Bible studies and prayer meetings our entire lives. If we are not living letters of God's love to the other people around us we are not in Christ. (Eph. 5:1;1John 3:16-20)
Enough for this first post. But I want your feedback, and your conversation. Because if you're like me, you need the constant love and encouragement of God's people to be able to follow Jesus like I should. Help me, and help yourself and others. Let's talk.
Other posts will soon follow.