We Have To Get Over Our Fear Of Dissaproval

Nobody want’s to be the outcast or the reject. Even people who seem like they want to be the outcast and rejects do so because at some level they want to be approved for their non-conformity. Man is a social creature and as a result we seek the approval and respect of others. It is for this reason that peer pressure works. The reason Fad’s catch on is because once we see people doing something we instinctively want to be a part of it.

The problem is that this desire has seeped its way into Christianity and made us lose sight of the fact that our religion is strange and radical. I already wrote on this phenomenon earlier, but I completely failed to mention why so many Christians have settled for the bland Andy Griffith Show Christianity that is so popular in America today. The problem is that we really don’t want to be persecuted.

Now I should clarify that only a sadist wants to be persecuted. I’m not saying we should go out of our way to try to get people to persecute us, but at the same time we can’t be afraid of it so much so that we censor and edit what we believe.

“In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted,while evildoers and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.”  – 1 Timothy 3:12-13

In Paul’s letter to Timothy he tells his young apostle in training that everyone who want’s to live a life in Christ will be persecuted. To rephrase, if you aren’t getting at least some persecution then you are probably not doing it right. Harsh I know, but don’t get mad at me… if anything get mad at Paul. While you’re at it, get mad at Jesus too:

“Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” – Matthew 5:10-12

Jesus didn’t come to bring peace (contrary to popular belief) and in fact he pretty much guaranteed that if you really try to follow in his footsteps you will persecuted.

“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also.” – John 15:18-20

th-1There is a big trend in Christianity to try to paint Jesus as a peaceful, loving, desert hippie that just wanted us to love each other. While Jesus did say that peace-makers are blessed, and that we should love our fellow man more than ourselves, he also said a lot of things that pissed a lot of people off. Jesus had rocks thrown at him multiple times while he was preaching (John 8:59), one time people tried to throw him off a cliff (Luke 4:28-30), and then of course there was the crucifixion that we are all familiar with.

Jesus offended a lot of people by what he was saying. He was not a very tolerant person. Sure he loved sinners, but he was never awkwardly trying to avoid talking about sin because he was afraid of what people would think about him. The early Christians realized that it is far more loving to call our sin and offer repentance and redemption than to spare feelings and tolerate people right into hell. If you love someone you have to hate what hurts them and does them harm. If you really and truly love someone you have to hate their sin, just as you hate your own.

I guess what I’m getting at is we have got to stop censoring our faith. We can’t get in the habit of avoiding tough truths in order to spare feelings or because we are afraid of what people will think. You shouldn’t be out to impress people, you should be out to serve God. If Christianity is true, then it is real and radical. If you preach what Christ preached and walk like Christ walked then you will be persecuted. That might just mean you are verbally shamed and abused. That might mean something more severe. Christianity should never fit comfortably into our culture because it is counter cultural and counter world at it’s very core. We either have to embrace the fact that Jesus actually meant what he said, or we can just keep on being once a week comfy social clubs that I see all over the place.

 

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A Ranting on the Real and Radical Rather than Relevant

The following was pretty much a stream of consciousness post. It’s a rambling rant that I wrote spur of the moment, and decided to publish because I think it hit on some points that are near to my heart and of great concern to me. Future posts will be better organized and structured: 

I’d like for you to be honest with yourself for a moment and seriously contemplate when was the last time you felt the Holy Spirit move you. When was the last time you really hated your sins and repented with a heart that was so hungry for grace that you could not help but be swallowed up in the love of God. If this sounds foreign to you then I hope and pray that this will not remain the case for much longer. Let us be honest.

This thing we call Christianity is not a simply belief, a rationality, a moral compass, or a set of truisms. This thing we call Christianity is a radical rebirth of the soul that calls for death of the old as well as birth of the new. This thing we call salvation is not a simple exchange of words or a singular moment in our life where we pray the sinners prayer (which is not found anywhere in scripture) but rather a life long striving for righteousness.

Let me explain to you something that should be common, but has somehow become lost and forgotten. Christ is freedom. We are completely liberated from the binds of legalism and law just as we are liberated from the binds of sin and death. Do you live a life that reflects the gratefulness that a slave shows his liberator, or do you stay at the side of your old master because leaving is hard?

Do you bind yourself up in legalistic judgementalism so that you can store up morality points and look down on those that don’t meet your standard? If that sounds remotely like you then I’m here to tell you that your morality is crap. Do you think a holy and perfect God is going to love you more because you are slightly less dirty or sick than your brother? A good parent doesn’t love his children on a scale of merit and a healer is not concerned with the fact that you need less healing than someone else. In his eyes you are both sick and he wishes only to make you both well. If anything he is more concerned with the sickest because they need him most. As one who has been the king of false judges, I promise you that no smug morality can ever compare to the reality of seeing someone truly broken and loving them with all your heart. To do this is to momentarily glimpse through the eyes of our creator and it is the greatest sensation I know.

Perhaps you are not the legalist. Perhaps you are the type that scoffs at legalism and instead goes around confident that you are free to do what you want because no man can judge you and God will forgive. If this rings true for you then I’m afraid you are still a slave who never left his master. You must understand that sin is not bad because God gets jollies out of taking away fun things from you. Sin is bad because it defiles, destroys, contaminates, perverts, or corrupts the good gifts of God for you.

God is not here to give you a cheapened and sheltered life, He designed you for a life more abundant and He wants to see you reach your potential. He designed you for a life that is truly life. As one who has had trouble with alcohol in the past I can promise you that a drunken stupor can never amount to the majesty of a purely sober moment spent in awe of the creator. As one who has indulged in more sexually immoral acts than I care to publicize, I promise you that no sexual gratification is a substitute for a pure and chaste love that consumes and envelopes you until you finally are able to love that person with mind, body, and soul. No unhealthy foods or substances can compare to the joy of health, no lies will ever be as liberating as being completely and brokenly honest. No possession will ever compare to the satisfaction of knowing you helped a brother or sister in their time of need. What fools we are to return to sin when such a majestic and full life awaits for us. Christ broke the chains, you just have to choose to walk away. How horrible we must be to have knowledge of the suffering God endured for us to liberate us, and yet in the end we choose to remain in our own filth. Hedonism is the ultimate slavery masked as liberation.

Why am I bringing this up? It scares me how dead many Christians seem to be and it scares me how dead at times I can be. Numb is no way to go through life, and yet so many of us grind our way through like some sad sap at the bank waiting for the line to end. We try so hard to be “relevant” with our bracelets, t-shirts, contemporary music, trendy bible covers, and snappy one liners like and in the end the vast majority of us are fakes and we wonder why people don’t want to come to church. If we continue to try to force Christianity into culturally relevant stigmas then we will never see what the Church is capable of. Christianity will never be culturally relevant because the world will not and cannot understand us until they meet our Lord.

Radical Christianity is not going to manifest itself in a hebrew tattoo, or a jesus t-shirt, or a christian folk band. Radical Christianity should be redundant because Christianity, if it is Christianity at all, is radical by its very nature. If you call yourself Christian you side with those who reject both rigid morality and hedonistic self-gratification. If you call yourself Christian you side with those who do not see good people or bad people, but a world full of sick and dirty people who need the healing and cleansing hand of God. If you call yourself a Christian you side with those who reject revenge and human honor and embrace mercy, grace, forgiveness, and limitless love for all those who cannot and do not deserve it. If you are my brother or sister in Christ you are amazingly radical, so let us live like it.