Tag Archive for 'church'

broken christians.

I had the blessing of getting to meet with a dear mentor and friend this morning before church. I was going to the 11am service, so we met during the previous service. We found each other and headed to a room to talk. Communion was about to be served, so all of the deacons were lined up with their trays in hand outside of the sanctuary doors. One of the deacons, with his tray of juice in hand, turned around and struck another deacon’s tray of juice with his! The innocent deacon’s tray still had all of the little cups in place, but the other tray was a complete mess. Both of their jaws dropped and they froze. The offending deacon said, “Oh, man! Did I get it on you?” The innocent deacon, with his hands up, looked at his shirt and said, “Uh… Yeah you got it on me!” I didn’t know what to do but laugh… and then I so clearly saw a snapshot of the church in that moment… Our formalities and facades are killing us! The formality and grandeur of the Lord’s Supper was just shattered before my eyes. The behind-the-scenes picture was not as pretty as the deacons streaming in with Jesus’ body and blood on silver trays. We put on a facade of perfection… “Come to Jesus and you will be perfect and no longer have any problems or struggles, just like me.” This is why people avoid the church… because they don’t belong in perfect-people church. We would rather keep up our image of perfection than, in humility and honesty, meet the lost and the broken where they are. People need to see broken people walking with Jesus. Not a Pharisee looking down on the tax collector and thanking God for not making him like that sinner.

To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people – robbers, evildoers, adulterers – or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’

“But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’

“I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

Jesus was a man.

Cross

One of my struggles is to remember that Jesus was a man who walked the earth and lived His life. The way I remind myself of such a basic truth is to make Jesus personal. This all probably sounds very fundamental, but I think a lot of people are missing this.

Let’s start with some Scripture:

Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be grasped;
but made himself nothing,
taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
Philippians 2:6-8

Let’s think about this. I walk up to you and I say, “I’m the Son of God.” You’d either laugh at me or think, “He is out of his mind.” And then I say, “Come follow me.” You’d probably think to yourself, “Um… No thanks. I don’t follow crazy people.”

Ok. So now that we’ve established that I’m crazy, imagine some random dude walking up to you and saying, “I’m the Son of God.” You’d either laugh at him or think, “He is out of his mind.” And then he says, “Come follow me.” You’d probably think to yourself, “Um… No thanks. I don’t follow crazy people.” See a pattern here?

So you may be thinking, “Well since Jesus has already come, I have no reason to believe you or this random dude.” Well, ok. But why would you have believed Jesus?

“When his family heard about this, they went to take charge of him, for they said, ‘He is out of his mind.'” Mark 3:21 Timeout. Jesus’ family just said, “He is out of his mind.” See a pattern here?

Does this make sense?
He was crazy (John 10:20). He was blasphemous (John 10:33). He was counter-cultural (Mark 2:17). He was miraculous (John 12:37). He was hanging out with “sinners” (Mark 2:15). He told the religious folks that the prostitutes were entering the kingdom of God ahead of them (Matt 21:31)! This is not the guy we invite to speak at our church.

“He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him.” John 1:10,11

It’s easy to look at the people around Jesus and wonder how they completely missed it. But if you can break Jesus down in this frame of mind, I would bet there would be a lot of Christians saying, “Wait. I’m following this guy? I’m trusting in what this guy said? I’m a ‘disciple’ of this guy? When did I agree to that?” (Matthew 7:21-23)

I have had so many guys tell me that they have always been a Christian or have always believed in God. If that’s you, I’d like to stop you right here — You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that — and shudder (James 2:19). If a belief in God leads to salvation, the demons are more saved than most of us – because they actually know the character of God to the point that they shudder.

We have separated Jesus from God. Everyone says “God bless you” when you sneeze and “God bless America” on the 4th of July. Change that to “Jesus” and you will get some strange looks. A belief in God is culturally acceptable. What makes a person crazy is when they claim that Jesus the Christ is this God.

Is casual faith acceptable? Can you believe in the Jesus of the Bible and still fit into this world? I think we’ve missed it, because Jesus didn’t come begging for you to ask Him into your heart. He came offering His righteousness in exchange for every ounce of your being. You can’t claim to follow Jesus and still be of this world. You just can’t. Jesus said some pretty crazy stuff that doesn’t exactly increase our comfort and definitely doesn’t sit well with the world.

“In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted…” (2 Timothy 3:12). This is the one thing that moved me from a belief in God to following Jesus (the topic of suffering to be exact, as I heard it taught in Secret Church: The Cross and Suffering).

If you are a truly a Christian… you are crazy… so live like it. You’re placing your faith in a man who walked the earth and claimed to be the Son of God. You’re not normal. Quit trying to fit into this world… because you can’t.

1 Timothy 1:1-7

Paul begins this letter to Timothy by urging Timothy to stay in Ephesus. Paul finds the false doctrines being taught by men in the church to be so damaging that he has urged Timothy to stay in Ephesus more than once.  These men, in addition to teaching false doctrines, have devoted themselves to falsities and lost sight of salvation by faith.

Follow through Scripture from the Old Testament to the New and you’ll find that God’s people are like a dog returning to its vomit (Prov 26:11).  God so generously, graciously, and mercifully gave us Himself with one burdenless condition: we take Him and Him alone.  The church has a 2000 year tradition of taking Christ and adding anything and everything we can think of to Him.  In the church today, your attendance, songs, activities, and memory can somehow fill the void that your sin after salvation creates between you and God.  Christ’s sacrifice, so simple and oh so deep, has never been enough for His church.  Christ made it simple (John 14:6).  Satan has abused the simplicity of Christ’s offering and we fall into the belief that our sufficiency in Christ is in some way dependent on us.  Paul realized his insufficiency and Christ’s adequacy (1 Tim 1:15-17) and was not going to let the church fall into the hands of false teachings.  Paul valued the true Gospel and stressed that Timothy put these men in their place in defense of the Gospel.

These men in the church were devoting themselves to myths and genealogies, causing controversy, and ultimately leading others to meaningless pursuits apart from sincere faith.  Imagine a few men in the church leadership causing Christ-distracting controversy.

People pick a church where they like the preacher, music, status, or proximity.  People unite behind the things they like, the things they grew up with, and the things that are thus “righteous” in their eyes.  Church leaders and members lean upon culture and tradition on top of the Gospel to guide their faith.  Culture and tradition… myths and endless genealogies.  Go to a traditional church wearing jeans and you will be looked upon as the sinful filth that you are.  Wear a suit to the same traditional church and you will fit right in.  Move the offering before the sermon and people’s heads will explode.  Perfect Sunday School attendance won’t get you to Heaven, but it will sure get you close.  Through Paul’s urging of Timothy to stay in Ephesus and end the teaching of false doctrines, we are presented with a clear warning of what results when the uniqueness of the Gospel is clouded with culture and tradition.  The Gospel is the only unifying factor among followers of Christ.  There is no other reason to gather with Christians except for the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Music, dress, and social factors are fallacies upon which many congregations are built.  The selfishness of following culture and tradition denies the self-sacrificing love the believer adopts with Jesus Christ.  Disagreements simmer, grow, and explode, dividing the body of Christ.  This is why the Center for the Study of Global Christianity has recorded 41,000 Christian denominations/ organizations.  The body of Christ must unify around the Gospel and focus on God’s work — which is by faith and nothing more.




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