Monday, April 29, 2013

Don't Scratch the Itch

Don't Scratch the Itch

2 Timothy 4:1-5

 I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: 2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. 3 For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, 4 and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. 5 As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

In the world of celebrity pastors, there is sometimes a temptation to draw a crowd and in doing so, try to make the "Good News" as appealing as possible.  Some leaders have unfortunately turned from "preaching the Word." to marketing a brand of God that will fill seats to arenas.  While they are tickling ears, placating emotions, and building churches, is this watered down approach to the Gospel doing anything to advance the Kingdom?

The method is as old as the New Testament itself.  Paul spoke vehemeantly against this kind of teaching.  In the life of the early church, there were false teachers who would draw followers based off of false doctrine that satisfied the crowds' curiosity.  In response, Paul exhorted Timothy to "preach the word." Likewise, we are to proclaim truth and speak out against heresy.  We are to live with a sense of preparedness and courage; not being afraid to speak up and out when it is inconvenient, or uncomforable.  We are to build up the Body of Christ by helping one another address sin and inconsistencies.  However, are are to to so with tenderness and commitment.

The world is not inclined to hear this type on instruction.  Objective truth is no longer a reality to many.  Rather, people want to hear what makes them feel good.  Therefore, with a plethora of "teachers", they can simply turn on the television or pick up a book that affirms their current line of thought.   Some leaders have sought to meet these "seekers" needs by appealing to their senses and offering simple "how to" sermons that give steps instead of Truth. They come inside a worship service that has been produced to be like that of a modern rock concert.  Yet they are supposed to see the difference Christ has made?

Unfortunately, some pastors have offered the solution that "God" brings personal happiness, which is a theological falacy that will ultimately bring about disappointment.  They do not deal with the problem of evil in the world.  They do not adequately address the problem of sin out of fear of offending someone.  Truth is whatever makes you happy.  Jesus is one of many options rather than the only option.  Scripture is roughly paraphrased rather than expounded.  And as long as those who hear come away satisfied, all is well.  After all, the parking lot is full.

The Church must stand up and fight against this way of solicitation. The message of Christ is not one of prosperity, self-fulfillment, and personal blessing.  Rather, it is one of sacrifice, abandonment, and obedience.  To think of Christ as a way to personal enlightenment, destiny, and power is to miss the entire message of the kingdom of God.  As disciples, we are called to follow, to pick up our crosses daily, and to die to self.  If we think of Jesus as OUR Savior, we reverse His Lordship over us. 

The way to fight against the Celebrity Church mindset is by embracing 2 Timothy 4:5.  We must stay focused on that which Christ has commissioned us to accomplish for His sake.  As a result, there will be harship that we must endure.  We will not be seen the same.  We will be criticized.  We will be mocked.  We will be scrutinized. However, our goal must remain; reaching this world for Christ.  We do this not by making Jesus attractive to them, but by helping them truly understand God's plan for them through Christ.  When we do, we will fulfill the ministry God has called us to and be the Church God wants us to be. 

I am so grateful to be a part of a church who takes 2 Timothy 4:1-5 seriously. 

Monday, April 22, 2013

For Him Each Moment

For Him, Each Moment
One of my favorite passages of Scripture is Colossians 3.  Paul recognizes the dramatic change in the person because of Christ and then encourages that they should live out that change in every aspect of how they live. 
If it is true that we have been raised with Christ, i.e., that we have been transformed by his death and resurrection, then we are no longer the same person.  Therefore, our wants and desires should be different from when we did not know Christ.  In Colossians 3:1, Paul exhorts the believers to seek the things above, referring to that which builds the kingdom of God.  This is a pursuit of the heart that is continuous and active.  Our affections are to lie on what lies beyond the present and earthly.  Our thoughts are to be actively and constantly set heavenward rather than to the things on earth. 

The reason for this new pursuit is because we have died to our old ways and we are now hidden with Christ.  No longer is the world to see us, but rather they are to see Christ through us.  The result of us remaining hidden is that when Christ is glorified, we will be revealed in glory with him. 
I think many times, people forget that a commitment to Christ is a change in identity.  It is a dying to self and being united to Christ.  We try to compartmentalize religion to make it fit into what makes us feel comfortable rather than allow Christ to transform who we are from the inside out.  We feel good about ourselves if we give an hour to God on Sunday mornings.  Yet, we miss the point.  Christ wants every breath, every moment.  He must become greater and we must become less.
However, when we begin pursuing the things of this world instead of the things of God, we are not allowing ourselves to remain hidden.  We are not remaining united with Christ in his resurrection.  Instead, we are walking in the way we used to live.  Often, we think that this will lead to self-glorification, but that glory is futile and fades.  It does not satisfy. 
So how do we do CONTINUE to seek the things above, especially when our lives are so BUSY?  Do we clear out the schedules?  Do we incorporate Christ into them? How do we CONSTANTLY think about the things of heaven and not the things of earth when the demands of earth threaten to dictate our lives. 
I want to dialogue about this issue.  As women, how do we give each moment to Christ, while at the same time balancing the roles of career, girlfriend, wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend, etc.?  Please comment.  In the following weeks, my desire is to tackle the issue of being whole-hearted devoted followers of Christ, as women, in a world that conflicts with this idea.  I ask that you join me in this endeavor of prayer, dialogue, and study as a woman, no matter where you are at relationally, spiritually, professionally, etc.  Will you join the journey?
Seeking Him,