Online Comparisons

“I I was shocked to hear they had separated!  All the way up until the time I found out her Facebook page indicated that they had a wonderful life, marriage, and family.  How could she publically put out that appearance when it wasn’t what was really going on?”  With bewilderment, she was referring to a college friend who lived in another city that she was close to and a godparent of one of her children.

Hungarian Proverb “If you keep wanting to be someone else who will be you?”

 

In our day and age, an online presence can become more influential than our real presence.  It is our current cultural platform through which we communicate.   It has spawned worldwide communication and opened great possibilities to share your life worldwide.  Like any other thing, it can be good or bad.  For God’s people, the good thing is to stay in touch with friends and highlight the good things God is doing in your life.

Unfortunately, It can also be a means of portraying a false online life that isn’t rooted in reality.  I have heard it referred to as people becoming curators of the display of self.  It can also provoke people to comparisons that can lead to something very harmful to all of us, jealousy and envy.

  • “Look at where they got to go on vacation…we have never gone to a place like that.  How do they do it?”
  • “Look at how nice their new house is…How did they manage that?”
  •  “Their kids seem to have no problems.  They are so cute, happy, and obedient.  What’s wrong with mine?”

It can even carry over into our life in Christ.

  • “We had 15 people baptized in the past 2 weeks.”
  • “I had 3 international trips in the past 3 months and am reaching the ends of the earth”
  • “I am preaching to the Alive Conference tonight with 6000 people; please pray for this humble servant of God (of course posted with pictures of the amazing meeting).
  • “Our new building is advancing rapidly and the money is pouring in.”
  • “I was asked to speak at the …(famous, big, and slick)… conference. Hope to see you there!”

Google the phrase “Facebook envy” and you will get 24,000,000 hits.  Google the phrase “Facebook depression” and you will get 91,900,000 hits.  These are growing trends.

Paul speaks of the danger of comparisons.

2 Corinthians 10:12-13  For we will not make comparison of ourselves with some of those who say good things about themselves: but these, measuring themselves by themselves, and making a comparison of themselves with themselves, are not wise.  (13)  We will not give glory to ourselves in over-great measure, but after the measure of the rule which God has given us, a measure which comes even to you.

When we start the comparison game we automatically fall into the trap of pursuing the wrong kind of glory.  We pursue a glory (even God’s glory) to give validation to ourselves.  The great problem for followers of Jesus is that it is validation from sources other than God.   Paul speaks of this as well.

Galatians 1:10-11 GNB  Does this sound as if I am trying to win human approval? No indeed! What I want is God’s approval! Am I trying to be popular with people? If I were still trying to do so, I would not be a servant of Christ.  (11)  Let me tell you, my friends, that the gospel I preach is not of human origin.

1 Thessalonians 2:4 GNB  Instead, we always speak as God wants us to, because he has judged us worthy to be entrusted with the Good News. We do not try to please people, but to please God, who tests our motives.

Ephesians 6:6-7  Do this not only when they are watching you, because you want to gain their approval; but with all your heart do what God wants, as slaves of Christ.  (7)  Do your work as slaves cheerfully, as though you served the Lord, and not merely human beings.

Glory Hounds

C.S.Lewis Mere Christianity “Pride is essentially competitive…Pride gets no pleasure out of having something, only out of having more if it than the next man.  We say people are proud of being rich, or clever, or good looking, but they are not.  They are proud of being richer, or cleverer, or better-looking than others.”   

Constant comparison is fueled by one thing, pride.  It can be toxic spiritually because it has cousins called jealousy and envy that will always move in to stay.  When we constantly compare ourselves it becomes about our glory rather than His.  Even when Peter admonishes us to use our unique gifts that aim was “His glory” not ours.

1 Pet 4:10-11 As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. 

Three important things from Peter that helps avoid comparisons.

  • We all have gifts and value. Everyone is special and needful in God’s economy.
  • The purpose of these gifts is to serve His body so she reveals His glory (Eph 1:22-23 3:10-11). Gifts are not about boosting our ego.  We are to use our unique giftings and wiring so the church can flourish and God gets the glory.   
  • The ultimate goal of everything is so God is glorified through Jesus…forever and ever.

Chasing our own glory through comparisons leads to futility.  Jesus frees us from that futility as we “lay our lives down for His sake.”   Remember the more self-focused you are the more you will care about comparisons and the less self-focused you are the less you will care about these comparisons.

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“How did you get that from reading this Book?”

Authentic Christianity is not just being real, but being Biblically real

I was really stirred while listening to a leader that I greatly admire.  He was a very popular author and megachurch leader who became disillusioned with consumer Christianity, left it all, and is laboring to see authentic communities of faith who attempt to walk in Biblical church life together as they engage in God’s mission.  This is at the heart of the motto many of us use to describe God’s purpose for us, “God’s family of Spirit filled disciples together on God’s mission.”

He told a story about a trip he made to China visiting areas where Christians had been persecuted for their faith.  Most of the churches were part of the underground church movement that flourished under an atheistic communist regime.  He was amazed by the sincerity of faith he was witnessing and was asking them lots of questions about their experiences and how they did these things. One of the group asked him, “why are you asking so many questions and why are you so interested in our experiences?”  He replied, “because this isn’t the way it is in the Western church.”

Authentic Biblical church life is the best apologetic for the 21st-century culture.  Church is to be a compelling community.

He started telling them what church life is like in America.  “We have buildings we call churches we go to for an hour a week; if there is a better speaker at a different one we will go to that one; if there is better music at one we will go to that one; if we get in a fight with someone or are challenged about anything in our life we will switch to another church; and if the childcare or children’s programs are better somewhere else we switch to that one. The overall approach in trying to attract new people is come on in and sit down, we will take care of everything for you.”

It is common to see things like when you want to move to another geographic area you disconnect from that church and start shopping for another one in that area.  You stay connected  through Churchbook (Facebook), Churcstagram (Instagram), and Churchchat (Snapchat), yet the reality is that they are no longer part of laboring translocally together in Kingdom activity like you see in Jesus and the early church as they moved geographically (Mt 9-11, Lk 9-10, Rom 16:1-16, 1 Cor 16:10-24, Col 4:7-18, 2 Tim 4:11-22, Phil 4:1-23).

Then one of them raised their voice and their Bible in the midst of the laughter and asked, “How did you get that from reading this Book?” 

They began to laugh, not just snicker, but the whole group began to laugh deeply.  He wasn’t trying to be funny but they found what he was saying was so comical they continued to laugh and it became a little awkward.  Then one of them raised their voice and their Bible in the midst of the laughter and asked, “How did you get that from reading this Book?”

“How did you get that from reading this book?”  What a profound question.  I identify with that when I reflect on my background.  I was raised unchurched and secular.  When I began to follow Jesus as Lord I knew I was going to learn a whole new culture.  The Bible was God’s instruction manual.  If He said it that settled it.  What kind of church life do we live?  Our only option is what the Bible prescribes and describes.  It caused us to help start and raise up churches that attempt to allow Jesus to build along the lines of His word.  If what we were doing didn’t line up, we changed instead of changing His word.

In the western church we cater to the customers…what kind of church would you like; we will make it for you; you want meetings to only be an hour or less; we will cut the time down; you want a church that emphasizes this; we will emphasize it or we will create it for you; you want to come with no strings attached, we will keep it that way; you don’t want to believe something we will not bring it up; you want a support group with certain types of people, we will create them for you; we will keep making it easier and easier so we will get more and more Christian customers in the door.

An Experiment Revealing the Authentic

Try this experiment.  If you could describe church only using the Bible, not your experience or tradition, how would it look?  Here are some elements that will probably be there.

  • They are sincerely connected with Jesus in a real observable way.  He is in them and among them and their whole life is centered around Him (Col 1:18, 2:10-14, Acts 2:38-42).
  • The Kingdom of God (active rule of the Lord Jesus Christ) is expressed in and through God’s people as they live to submit every area of life to the His Lordship (Acts 2:36-42, Rom 10:9-10, Col 1:17-19, Rev 1-3).
  • The church is God’s family living out His relational way of life among the people He joins together.  It is not a building, meeting, or an organization where familiar strangers occasionally gather for meetings (Acts 2:38-42, 4:35-42, the 59 “one another commands in the Epistles).
  • God’s people hungering for and seeking more of a Spirit Filled life.  They desire to be continually led by, filled with, and moving in all the power and gifts of Holy Spirit both in meetings as well as everyday life (John 7:37-39, Acts 1:8, 2:1-4, 4:8, 31, 6:3, 8:12-24, 9:1-17, 10:43-48, 19:1-6, 1 Cor 12-14, Eph 5:18). It is an “earnest desire” (1 Cor 14:1) that sees this not as optional but essential.
  • The church is central, not peripheral to the plans and purposes of God and so it is central to theirs (Mt 16:18, Eph 1:23, 3:3-11, 5:25-32, Rev 19:7, 21:2-9, 22:17).
  • Church members are disciples who follow Jesus and seek to put into practice everything He says (Mt 28:18-20, Acts 11:23).  They are not just deciders who use Jesus to have a better life.
  • Church involvement is not just an audience of people attending and watching meetings but disciples who participte in seeing God’s life expressed in and through His church. 
  • All the Ephesians 4 ministries are involved and seen as essential, not optional, in equipping God’s people to the building up of local churches (Eph 4:11-16, Eph 2:17-22, Acts 13-28, Romans 16:1-16, 1 Cor 16:10-24, Col 4:7-18). Their input helps provide good foundations (Eph 2:20, 1 Cor 3:10-12), as well as fatherly and motherly care into local church families (1 Thes 2:7-11).
  • The local church is governed by a team of leaders, not just a one man “pastor” (elders with deacons alongside) chosen by God, recognized by people, with Ephesians 4 ministries involved in their training and appointment (Acts 14:23, 15:4-23, 16:4, 20:17-28, Phil 1:1, 1 Thes 5:12, 1 Tim 5:1-21, Tit 1:5-11, Jas 5:14, 1 Pet 5:1, John 17:11, 21-23).
  • The call of mission to the world is upon everyone, everywhere, all the time (Gen 1:26-28, Mt 28:18-20, Acts 1:8, Eph 1:22-22 etc.). Missions is not a program or a special call upon a few people who live in faraway places.  It is the daily call upon all the church whether it be across the street or across the ocean.
  • Praise and worship isn’t watching people sing songs on a platform. It is all of all of God’s people engaging in heartfelt, Spirit filled, Biblically described expressions of praise and worship.   This includes, but is not limited to the Biblical expressions such as shouting (found 265 times in the Bible), playing musical instruments (58 times), singing (29 times), lifting our hands (14 times), clapping (12 times), bowing or kneeling (12 times), dancing (9 times), and standing (7 times).
  • A multigenerational perspective that sees a priority of helping those younger while at the same time reaching forward to all that God has (Ps 78, Titus 2 etc).
  • Ministry isn’t relegated to a few people on a platform in corporate meetings. Ministry is about every person being equipped and using their God given abilities everyday to build up the family of God and reach the world with the gospel (1 Cor 12-14, Eph 4:10-32, Rom 12:1-17, 1 Pet 4:10-11, 1 Tim 4:4, 2 Tim 1:6).

This kind of life is what you get from reading that book!  Like Caleb said, “We must, by all means, go in and possess it” (Num 13:30).  

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God Apologizes For His Word

God’s truth is eternal.  While His revelation came into the earth in various cultural contexts, His truth is transcultural, and transgenerational (involving more than one culture and generation).  His truth affects every culture across the generations.  We understand that much of the New Testament was written in the context of a first century Palestine and Roman culture. God’s goal is not to try to replicate that culture, but to see His eternal truth transform our culture.

Some of the cultural advancement from our perspective may be cultural decline from God’s perspective

We know civilization advances.  While we are not trying to see a return to first-century customs and civilization, we must beware of cultural arrogance. We never want to try to make God’s truth submit to any culture or civilization, including ours.  God doesn’t follow current culture.  Jesus and His truth stand outside of culture in order to affect it.

When we seek to apply God’s truth in any cultural context or generation it is good to keep in mind the fact that God chose when to send Jesus into the earth.  He chose what culture Jesus came into.  It is what the Bible calls the “fullness of times.”

  • Gal 4:4 NASB  But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law,

God doesn’t yield to any culture, He works to influence all cultures.

God could have chosen any culture or time to bring Jesus and the revelation of the New Testament into the earth, but He chose that one.  There can be a current cultural arrogance in which we try to superimpose our culture on the Bible (believing our culture is superior to the one in which the Bible was written).  We must be careful with this!  No culture is “the truth.”  He is the truth!  Some of what we consider cultural advancement may be cultural deterioration!  God doesn’t yield to any culture, including ours.

Here is a witty article with a hint of sarcasm that shows the absurdity of trying to make God yield His truth to our current culture.

God Apologizes For Gendered Language In Bible

November 15, 2016

HEAVEN—Remorseful for using terms that fly in the face of contemporary progressive sensibilities, God Almighty issued an apology Tuesday for the gendered language found throughout His Word, the Holy Bible.

“The fact that gendered language has been non-offensive for millennia is no excuse, since through my omniscience I knew that by the time the 21st Century rolled around it would no longer be considered acceptable,” the statement, miraculously delivered through a heavenly messenger, read in part.

“Please accept my deepest and most sincere apologies for using such offensive terminology when describing humankind and myself throughout the pages of Scripture, and feel free to edit the eternal Word of God so that it aligns more closely with your current, advanced understanding of the nature of things,” he continued, adding that it was never His intention to advance the agenda of the patriarchy.

“My choices were unfortunate and regrettable, and I have no intention of trying to mansplain them away. I will do better.”

Bible publishers worldwide reportedly began work Tuesday on new translations of the Holy Scriptures, removing any pronouns or phrases which specify a gender either directly or by implication.

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A Surprising Response from a Retiring Pastor

I had somewhat of a shocking conversation with a friend who had led a successful church for over 3 decades. I had not communicated with him for a long time and it was good to see him.  He is a wonderful, well-respected pastor both by his church and the community. His ministry and church situation is everything many younger leaders would aspire to.  It is a great church with good programs, a nice building, influential people and a wonderful staff.  I hadn’t seen him in quite a while and when I greeted him he said something very unexpected, “You may not have heard it yet but I am officially and really retiring now.”  The next words that came out of his mouth shocked me, “I’m tired of feeding fat lazy Christians.   I want to get on and do something significant in the next phase of my life.”

“I am really retiring now.  I am tired of feeding fat lazy Christians. I want to get on and do something significant in the next phase of my life.” Retiring Pastor 

It was unexpected because this man was one of the kindest well-respected leaders I know.  He is known for his gentle approach to pastoring.  My response to him was a little surprising to me and somewhat prophetic,  “I hear ya!  If we see our role as building a church to please and attract consumer Christians then we will become spiritual chaplains of people’s narcissism.”  He agreed wholeheartedly.

This interaction made me think of a satirical Christian website’s post about the absurdity of how consumer Christians approach leaving a church titled, “Babylon Bee Signs You Should Find A New Church Home.” 

Consumer Christianity is the polar opposite of the implications Jesus described in following Him, “Lay your life down…lose your life for My sake…serve others…take up your cross…forsake all and follow Me.”  May this realization of consumer Christianity stir something of the zeal of God in us to fulfill the reason Jesus laid down His life. He didn’t lay His life down to have a people zealous for their own interest (consumer Christianity) but His.  Titus 2:13-14  looking for the blessed hope, and the appearance of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ,  (14)  who gave Himself for us that He might redeem us from all iniquity and purify to Himself a special people, zealous of good works.

Babylon Bee Signs You Should Find A New Church

December 21, 2016

“How do I know if I should leave my church?”

It’s a question everyone wonders from time to time—and not one to take lightly. Transitioning between churches can be a messy time in the life of the Christian and his or her family and church body.

So how do you know if it’s time to say “adiós”? The Babylon Bee is here to help, with five meticulously researched and peer-reviewed signs that you should leave your church behind.

  • The full-service cafe discontinues your favorite seasonal drink. If winter rolls around and the coffee shop in the foyer decides not to run its usual peppermint mocha promotional, it’s time to start Googling “good churches in my area.” It’s a sure sign that the church has abandoned the faith once delivered to the saints. (This should go without saying, but if your church doesn’t have a full-service coffee shop, its lampstand has been removed long ago).
  • The church fails to immediately respond to your weekly helpful comment card feedback. When you say “jump,” your church should say “how high?” You pay their salaries after all—meaning they work for you. Pastors that don’t immediately make major changes to the worship experience, their preaching style, the decor of the building, or the genres of music on offer based on the fifteen helpful comment cards you turn in each week are not expressing love for the brethren, which may indicate they’re not saved at all.
  • Someone expresses concern that you missed the last eighteen services. A church that shows interest in regular church membership is like a creepy ex-girlfriend that can’t let go. Can you say “red flag?” Run, don’t walk, away from this aberrant and apostate congregation.
  • The men’s retreat features fewer than twenty fully automatic rifles. There’s nothing more disappointing than gearing up for your church’s annual men’s retreat only to discover it’s nothing more than a couple days of Bible teaching, prayer, and fellowship. In fact, Jesus Himself rebuked the church at Laodicea for being lukewarm, which scholars believe indicates their men’s ministry never once went on a week-long hunting expedition in the Yukon. (Women, substitute “fully automatic rifles” with “crafting tables.”)
  • The pastor faithfully preaches the Bible on a weekly basis. Pastors who keep sticking to the same faithful presentation of the Word of God each week lack imagination, honestly. How can your church be a fun, exciting place with engaging programs and appealing special events if the pastor guy keeps rambling on about sin, repentance, and new life in Christ, while systematically preaching and teaching the Scriptures? Think about it.

Remember, this isn’t an exhaustive list—there are hundreds of thousands of legitimate reasons for leaving a church, especially if the pastor isn’t making a concerted effort to appease your every whim and earn your business. But if your church lines up with any of the above points, there’s a really good chance it is time for you to move on.

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Burger King or King Jesus

“God is not a product to be pushed, but a King to be obeyed” Gregory Lewis.      

I had the great privilege recently of hearing Dave Richards preach a message about Christ’s Lordship in our lives and it’s challenge to consumer Christianity.  As I listened I couldn’t help but remember a friend telling me a sad story about people he had once looked up to as a young disciple.  They had drifted into a consumer mentality regarding their faith.

Like Paul’s companion Demas, they had once been “co-workers” who served on the front line of Kingdom expansion (Col 4:4, Philemon 1:24).  Sadly they had abandoned the front lines for an easier way (2 Tim 4:10).  They had begun to casually attended a church whose motto was “Christians should have choices” referring to their 3 short convenient services.  My friend walked up to greet them and overheard their conversation about the church, “you can sleep as late as you want and not have to worry about it.  You can show up to any service that is convenient to you.”  My friend was shocked because in earlier days he had looked up to them as examples.  The tears in his voice revealed his deep disappointment, “this isn’t what following Jesus is about! It isn’t about our convenience!”

It reminded me of a church leader who began to take a more convenient approach to services with a newspaper advertisement, “Express Worship, 45 Minutes, Guaranteed!” The ad went on with the description, “Three upbeat hymns…quick announcements…23-25 minute sermons.”  The logic was to try to attract Christians who were looking for a better deal and unbelievers looking for convenience.

There is no calling to be a consumer of Christian goods and services. There is only the call to follow Jesus. It is always disastrous to turn Christianity into a product.

I can’t help but think of these types of approaches in light of the 25 calls of Jesus in the Gospels to “Follow Me.”  In 20 of those calls He included some aspect of denying ourselves and giving up things in order to follow (Lk 9:23-24, 14:26-27, Mt 10:38-39, 16:22-25, 16:22-25,  Mk 8:34-38, Jn 12:25-26).

While there is nothing “holy” about long services, approaching God’s Kingdom with the first priority of our convenience can be a problem.   After all Ezra stood read the Bible for over 6 hours on a podium in a corporate gathering (Neh 8:3-4), and Paul drug out a message for several hours until midnight causing a young man to fall asleep and fall out of a window.  Acts 20:7-10  On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul began talking to them, intending to leave the next day, and he prolonged his message until midnight… (9)  And there was a young man named Eutychus sitting on the window sill, sinking into a deep sleep; and as Paul kept on talking, he was overcome by sleep and fell down from the third floor and was picked up dead. 

Burger King or Christ the King

I remember an advertising campaign for Burger King when I was young that captures the heart of this form of consumer Christianity.   Burger King was trying to cut into the market share of McDonald’s. They thought they would appeal to the idea of consumer choice which is a prized virtue. They came up with the great advertising jingle, “Have it your way.”  Some of you may remember the song, “hold the pickles hold the lettuce, special order’s don’t upset us, all we ask it that you let us have it your way.”

While churches should be seeking numerical growth, should we pragmatically seek it at all costs?  We want to be people who are faithful to the Great Commission, not the best deal.  The Matthew 28:18-19 Great Commission is to “make followers of Jesus, baptizing them, and teaching them to obey everything Jesus commanded.”  Growth should come with corresponding obedience to God’s word, not a have it your way mentality.

It works a little like raising a child. We must show great patience born out of love, which is “patient, kind, and full of gentleness” as we help people learn how to find, and walk with Jesus (1 Cor 13:1-7). Along the way, they have the great security of unconditional love while learning the maturity of “considering the interest of others ahead of their own” (Phil 2:3-8).

While there is an incredible great life that can only be found through Jesus we need to remind ourselves what Jesus consistently said about finding that life, “If you want to find My life, you have to first lose your life for My sake” (Lk 9:23-24, 14:26-27, Mt 10:38-39, 16:22-25, 16:22-25, Mk 8:34-38, Jn 12:25-26).  This is how we mature. If not we will perpetuate an “entitlement mentality” that is more like Burger King, not Christ the King.

Things that facilitate entitlement mentalities in the church

  • Numerical growth at all cost.
  • Membership without following Jesus.  God designed His church to be people who are following Jesus. The actual spiritual condition of members is important.  The spiritual component of Biblical church membership is real salvation (1Cor 12:13).
  • Ignorance of Biblical expectations of membership.  Membership without His expectations becomes membership with entitlements.
  • Having entitled people in influential positions. If you put entitled people into places of influence they will exercise their influence to “have it your way.”  The church isn’t about our way, but the King’s way.
  • Avoiding the challenges of difficult issues or difficult people.  While we don’t want to pick fights we also do not want to allow bullying, manipulation, or a culture of entitlement to grow through entitled people.  Additionally if we avoid problems they usually don’t go away. They only get bigger and more people end up getting hurt by them.

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“Saved” Without Following Jesus?

Are you saved…I’m saved…I think he is saved…let’s get ’em saved…what is salvation?  What does it mean? What are we saved from and what are we saved for?  Is it simply believing a message about Jesus and asking Him to forgive us which guarantees entrance to heaven when we die?

The most common definition in the Bible regarding someone who is “saved” is that he or she is a person “In Christ.”  That expression is found 164 times in Paul’s letters.  Paul himself said that his whole aim in life, and future, was being “found in Him not having a righteousness of my own” (Phil 3:8-10).  Paul further said, “as you have received Christ Jesus as Lord, then walk in Him”  Colossians 2:6 

Peter said there “is salvation in no one else” (Acts 4:12).  What distinguishes God’s people as “saved” is not simply a belief, but following Jesus and walking in Him. The dominate ideas of salvation today has little connection to following Jesus or being in Him.

In the Gospels Jesus gave 25 clear calls to “follow Me.”  In 20 of those 25 calls there were clear calls to lay one’s life down, and turn away from things in order to follow Him.  Only 4 times did He say to “believe in Me.”  The dominate ideas of salvation today has little connection to turning away form things and “laying down your life” to follow Jesus. Yet following Him should bring obvious change in people’s lives.  Why is there so little connection to being saved and following Jesus?

Does the gospel we preach produce followers of Jesus or consumers of Christian products and services.

A Deceptive Line

There is a deceptive line I think people cross which causes salvation to take on an unbiblical definition. I know this based on my own salvation experience. I was raised in a secular environment.   While I was a hard partying college football player God got my attention and I gave my life to Christ just shy of my 20th birthday and became “saved.”  For 3 months I followed Jesus, walked with Him, and my life was being changed so drastically that my parents felt that I had become involved in some sort of a cult.

Then at the end of the summer I went back to college and for about 8-10 weeks I slowly began to turn back to my old ways.  I remember the justification in my mind, “I’m saved, Jesus is real, my life is going to be about Him, I cannot deny His reality, but for right now it is too hard to follow Him so I will wait until I get out of school.”  I felt myself drifting to the dominant idea of salvation, a transaction that assured my entrance into heaven when I die without actually living with, and following Him right now.  I was beginning to view following Him as kind of an optional part of salvation.

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Fortunately by the grace of God I watched a popular preacher on a Sunday night television show when my roommates were gone and it busted the false idea of salvation that I was drifting towards.  The false assurance I was living in was exposed,  I repented, began to follow Him again, and never looked back.”

Did you receive Jesus at the point of your need or at the point of His will?  If you receive Him at the point of your need then once the need is met you quit following.  If you receive Him at the point of His will then you follow Him your whole life.

When we divorce salvation from being in and following Jesus we are redefining it from God’s design.  Salvation, righteousness, and sanctification are what the Bible refers to as “In Christ.”  While being in Christ is a standing it is also to be the actual state of our lives.  You need to be in Christ if you are in Christ.  You should follow Jesus if you follow Jesus.  Sounds crazy but we need to break the false logic in evangelical and charismatic circles about salvation.

I once heard someone ask, “if you could go to heaven when you die, be assured of deliverance from the consequences of sin, have peace, joy, and have it all without Jesus would you do it?”  If salvation is just acceptance of the doctrine of Jesus but not Jesus Himself, irrespective of any real change in life, what motivates us to follow Jesus and walk in the great commission of Mt 28:18-19 “make disciples… baptizing them…teaching them to walk in all He commanded”?

This unbiblical type of salvation allows people to live without Him while at the same time using Him when they need something and having an eternal assurance when they die.  If we are “saved” by giving mental ascent to a belief about Jesus while spending our life on earth ignoring Him how can we think there is anything right about it?  If we don’t love Him or agree to live the way He desires now will a change of scenery in heaven change that?  Will we want to be with Him then but not now?  Don’t we want to be with Him now and isn’t loving Him a large part of living for Him?  Paul said it a lot stronger than that. 1 Corinthians 16:22-23  If anyone doesn’t love the Lord, let him be cursed! Our Lord, come!  (23)  May the good will of the Lord Jesus be with you.

If a God-centered life is too much now how will we be able to take a full dose of Him in heaven?  Granted we will have new bodies, but we are called to love him and live for Him now. Ephesians 2:10  For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.

I was recently sitting with a famous spiritual father in the faith who was 86 years old. He was a major mover and shaker in the charismatic renewal and it was a privilege to meet him. Several times he cried and echoed the important reality of salvation, “it is relational with Jesus.  That is what Christianity is!”  Christianity without following Jesus is really a Christianity without Jesus.  I like how the NLT states this reality.

Col. 1:28–29 NLT So we tell others about Christ, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all the wisdom God has given us. We want to present them to God, perfect in their relationship to Christ. That’s why I work and struggle so hard, depending on Christ’s mighty power that works within me.

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