Tag Archive for 'culture'

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.

Jesus was a f***ing cool dude.

couch

Mark 2 starts out with a pretty familiar story. I remember hearing it a lot when I was little.
So… everybody heard Jesus had come home, so they filled the place. There wasn’t any room left, not even outside the door. Some men show up bring a paralyzed man, carried by four of them. Since they couldn’t get inside, they made a hole in the roof above Jesus and lowered the mat the man was lying on. Jesus healed the paralytic and he dances away. That’s about all I remember. Sadly, I am just now beginning to understand the story… just now, as in, after I started typing the first sentence of this post…

These men make every effort to get their friend to Jesus… and they do. “When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralyzed man, ‘Son, your sins are forgiven.'” This is the first thing Jesus said to the paralytic (Is that even why the man or his friends were there?). So, the teachers of the law freak out thinking, “He’s blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” Jesus said to them, “Why are you thinking these things? Which is easier: to say to this paralyzed man, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, take your mat and walk’? But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” I have to be honest and say that is not an easy question. I mean, being in that situation, neither of those options would seem “easier” than the other. But Jesus makes it very clear He has authority over it all when the paralytic is seen walking out the door… But I believe the answer to His question is in the end of verse 12: “This amazed everyone and they praised God, saying, ‘We have never seen anything like this!'” These people just witnessed a healing like they had never seen. This man was just forgiven of his sins… and healed of his paralysis. I don’t know that they fully comprehended what just happened, but let me continue (so I can hopefully reach my point).

Moving along in Mark 2… Jesus calls Levi, “Follow me.” Levi gets up and follows Jesus. Where does he follow Him? Well they end up eating dinner at Levi’s house… “with many tax collectors and sinners” (You must really be bad if Scripture lumps you together and just calls you “sinners”). So here come the Pharisees again and they see Jesus eating with the “sinners and tax collectors.” So they ask Jesus’ disciples, “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” I think they are genuinely curious as to why He does this. “On hearing this, Jesus said to them, ‘It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.’

Jesus just busted up into the Pharisaic party with the not-so-cool guy. And Jesus has busted up into my party.
In church, we always talk about reaching the lost. Bring your friend to church. Tell someone about Jesus. So I walked around with Jesus. We’d go serve people, do some manual labor… we went to church regularly… led Bible studies… Jesus shirts and Jesus bracelets… but I didn’t know Jesus.

Thankfully, only by God’s grace, God continued to pursue me in my perseverance to figure out Jesus. It’s funny, because when Jesus shows up, strange things happen. Jesus took me to the hood. He took me to Turkey. He took me to Haiti. While I like to think I did these things in obedience to Him, I’m starting to see how He staged these steps to get me to the understanding He’s giving me now. He’s slowly showing me who the BIBLE says He is… not the church… not culture… not myself.

The Gospel. Thank You, Jesus, for everyone in the last few weeks that has shown me Christians don’t… can’t… won’t get over the Gospel… They stand in it every. single. day.

Now I’m getting to my point (let me attempt to tie all of this together).
Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15:1-2, “Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.” Paul is reminding his brothers and sisters that have already received and taken a stand on the gospel…. the gospel. We will not understand the gospel until we understand the greatness, holiness, and righteousness of God and our wretchedness, foolishness, and sinfulness (I reallly want to chase some rabbits!) The gospel is life. It is our hope and what we stand on. Yet, we so often move past the gospel. “Congratulations on accepting the gospel. You may now advance to Step 2.” Then it’s church attendance, memory verses, mission trips, abstinence, new friends, clean language, dedication, devotion, K-Love, Bible studies, lead a Bible study, help some needy folks….. ALL good things… but they are NOT Jesus. When we certify ourselves based on our church attendance or the fact that we picked up somebody else’s trash over the blood of Jesus covering an undeserving sinner deserving of Hell… we have a [sarcasm]small[/sarcasm] issue. Jesus came for the sick. He didn’t come to call the righteous. If you think you’re righteous, well, then I guess you’re already taken care of.

I have been given the privilege to serve in a Bible study at a local drug rehab. God also dropped in front of me a Jesus follower from the hood that doesn’t see a problem with marijuana or doing illegal things. If you think you can take your “Christianity” to a drug rehab and offer people hope and life… you’re mistaken. Looking people in the eye and telling them, “You have to become like me before you become a Christian” does not work (well, I can’t say I’ve tried it, but my brain can recognize the fallacy). When you’re talking to a guy that likes his marijuana, telling him to dress up, come to church (in his car with K-Love and a fish sticker), memorize John 3:16, and join a small group won’t do much good. Looking him in the eye and offering him the pure, gospel truth that Jesus came for the sick and not for the righteous… that Jesus came for him as sick and filthy as he is, just the way he is, because He is the doctor and He loves the sick. He doesn’t need any of the other crap we tie into the gospel… He just needs Jesus.
I have NEVER heard anything sweeter than a twenty-three year old dude locked in drug rehab say, “I read about Jesus and He was a pretty f***ing cool dude.”
How dare we decide who gets to hear the gospel. How dare we tell people to clean themselves up before they come to Jesus. How dare we tell people to wipe their shoes at the door of Jesus’ church. Jesus wasn’t up in His fancy church building discussing with the Pharisees next month’s budget. He was the one with the guy in the gutter that you told to get a job. He was with the folks that you tell your kids to avoid. Oh, Jesus, please let us all see how undeserving we are of Your grace and mercy… And in light of that let us see how deserving those around us are to hear, and see, and feel Your grace and mercy through us.

With the Wind at our backs,
And in the strength of the Lord,
We will rise on the wings of the dawn,
We’re gonna take back all the enemy has stolen.

It’s in the Blood of the One Who’s Worthy,
I know God has not forgotten all that’s lost and broken,
So come and see the turning of the tides,
Come and see His sons and daughters rise,
For how could He who did not spare His own Son,
Not freely give us victory against the darkest of nights?

We’re gonna take back all the enemy has stolen,
We’re going to plunder the pits of hell,
It’s in the Blood of the One who’s Worthy!
Take Back – Will Reagan & United Pursuit

[Insert asterisk here. Church, memorizing verses, and K-Love aren’t bad and would do a lot of people a lot of good… but hopefully you see the point 🙂 ]

people.

People are all around us. Really. They are. Look around you if you don’t believe me. Does that mean anything to you? Do you even care about these people? Jesus didn’t walk around in a bubble. He invested in people… but more than that, He took the time to notice people around Him and talk to them. Do you do that? Do you ever talk to people? Do you ever care about other people’s lives, even a random strangers’?

I meet Wednesday mornings at 5:30 at Waffle House to just ‘do life’ with my best friends. We made a pact of sorts to ask whoever is serving us if there’s anything we can pray about for them. That way, someone has to ask or we end up with an awkward mess among ourselves. It was almost an experiment at first… nervously asking and not knowing what we’d get in return.

You don’t know what someone is going through until you ask. This morning, we asked our waitress if she had anything we could pray about for her. She quickly said “No,” then proceeded to tell us about how her friend had died two days ago and she’s been such a wreck that she can’t even cook without burning the food. Oh… and her grandfather has a brain tumor. Another server didn’t have the money to pay a ticket and was going to end up in jail if she couldn’t pay it in the next 48 hours. A cook who told us he didn’t believe in prayer. Another server who is going through a rough divorce from an abusive husband. The list goes on and on. All from the simple question, “Do you have anything we can pray about?”

People.
You’re one of them.
How many strangers have taken an interest in your eternity? Count them. Go ahead.
Assuming you’re in the majority and have one or two fingers up, this leads me to two questions…

  1. How would you know about Christ’s sacrifice if no one told you or if you didn’t go to church? You wouldn’t.
  2. Do you believe people are ok without Jesus? The easy answer is “No.” But seriously…… do you?

 

(My scathing rebukes are merely my own convictions in my heart.)

We are a body, part 1

We have to start challenging each other more as believers and the body of Christ.

Every day there is a story about someone who is suing for millions of dollars because they were offended in some way. “Gay white guy wins $1.2 million in race lawsuit,” “Former Medina police chief wins $2 million discrimination lawsuit,” “Man too terrified of frogs to leave his house wins $1.6M lawsuit.” These are legitimate headlines from a quick Google News search for “wins lawsuit for millions.” We have been inundated with these stories and “political correctness” to the point that we live with a fear of offending someone. But I would also be bold enough to propose that we live our lives seeking to be offended. Whether we have done it knowingly or not, we have decided that we are more valuable than our neighbor. Don’t believe me? We are daily up in arms about someone who cut us off in traffic, didn’t show up on time, broke in line, or spoke to us with a mean tone. WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE? No… That question is not directed at the person that just offended you… It’s directed at YOU and ME. How do you find yourself to be of such great value that you can justify looking down on someone else?

We as the church MUST humble ourselves before our neighbors… and our brothers and sisters in Christ! Paul says, “The very fact that you have lawsuits among you means you have been completely defeated already. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be cheated? Instead, you yourselves cheat and do wrong, and you do this to your brothers and sisters” (1 Cor 6:7-8). I see Paul as saying, “Look at yourselves! Quit it! What are you thinking?” We must wash ourselves of the worldly mindset we have taken on!

If I walked up to you and pointed out your sin, would you thank me? Or would you ask me who I was to judge you like that? Brothers and sisters! We must open our eyes to the depravity and severity of sin! We have offended a HOLY and RIGHTEOUS GOD who does not look upon our sin lightly! We have come to the point where we have trapped ourselves as believers. “I don’t want to point out his sin, because he might be offended.” Why do you think he would be offended? Is it because WE would be offended? Brothers and sisters! Whether it is you rebuking or you being rebuked, consider the severity of our sin! In that light, we must reconsider our position on both sides of rebuke. Someone has a word of rebuke for you? Accept it with open arms! Hopefully it will cut like a sword into your soul, but what a minimum price to pay to be made aware of your sin! Would you rather walk along blindly, unaware of your sin? Or would you rather be made aware of it so you can repent and turn to the LORD for redemption from that sin? If you have ever been rebuked, you know the beauty of the entire process. Hopefully, you are able to look back on rebuke with thanksgiving that someone would care enough about you to point out your sin! Welcome rebuke and exhortation!

On the other hand, brothers and sisters, how dare we not point out another believer’s sin? If we walk alongside another believer, continually blinding ourselves to their sin, then we stand in full acceptance of their sin. We have minimized sin’s severity and thus minimized God’s holiness. “Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted” (Galatians 6:1). Of course we have to properly rebuke our fellow believer in love, but we must still rebuke! We cannot sit idly by as our brother or sister walks along with a poisonous snake crawling up their leg! JESUS said, “If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you” (Matt 18:15). Would you not want someone to point out YOUR sin (As I discussed above, this is more than likely the root of our problem.)? There is too much at stake for us to continue to minimize sin in our lives and our brothers’ and sisters’ lives!!!

words too big

I wrote this many, many, many years ago and just found it on my computer…

Something I believe has been lost somewhere in time is the power and utter meaning of words, or even one word. C.S. Lewis sums up my thoughts:

“Don’t use words too big for the subject. Don’t say ‘infinitely’ when you mean ‘very’; otherwise you’ll have no word left when you want to talk about something really infinite.”

The word “love” is used in many more ways than any other word I can think of. For instance, a boy and a girl in middle school have some sense of love and care and they say, “I love you.” Two teenagers in high school have a better understanding of dating relationships and they say, “I love you” and probably mean it in some way. A guy and girl in college have been through relationships in the past and know what they are really looking for in a relationship. They say, “I love you.” A man and woman marry and live an example of Christ’s love for the church. The “the two will become one flesh. So they are no longer two, but one.” The man tells his wife he loves her. But what is the difference between his word “love” and the 7th grader’s infatuation? Looking in from the outside, there should clearly be a separate word that this man should use to tell his wife how he feels. Or should the word only be used to describe true love?

You go see a movie and when later asked your opinion, you reply, “It was awesome!” At church on Sunday you sing about an Awesome God. Again, looking in, these obviously should be separate words. This movie has no comparison to Christ, yet the same exact word is used to describe both.

It’s about lunch time and you are ready to grab a bite to eat. The conversation most likely starts with “I’m hungry” or “I’m starving.” Some child in a third world country has not had a bite to eat in “forever,” and they are hungry and starving.

“It’s been forever since I’ve seen that show.” “I’ll spend forever in Heaven.” Our use of the word forever to describe a period of a month to years turns the word into a finite period of time.

“I hate bugs.” The Lord hates sin. I would rather not have bugs and could live without bugs, but they are not a direct offense to who I am. God hates sin. I hate bugs. God’s passion is lessened due to my expression of how much I dislike bugs.

So consider C.S. Lewis’s words… and take your words into consideration.




%d bloggers like this: