What Is It Like To Be A Christian In 2017?

For me, being a true follower of Christ in 2017 means…

  • Lots of prayer. The tragedies in our back yard and close at hand call for countless prayers to be offered and questions to be answered.
  • Soul searching. With so much divisiveness and loss and heartbreak that I have faced personally and many people are facing collectively. I have to ask myself what is my role to play? How am I complicit to many of the wrongs around us and how can I make an impact to spread the Kingdom of God?
  • Confronting fear. What are Christians so afraid of? We should be the least fearful people on the planet. The strong and unshakeable Kingdom of God is a perfectly safe place to be. Christ has defeated death and we can start to experience the eternal life now.
  • Being true to the Gospels. Every time I see Christianity wrapped up in politics I long to return to the Gospels and read what Jesus found to be most important and what he asked us to do. I want that to shape me, not an Americanized version that vaguely uses Jesus as a way to push personal agendas.
  • Being counter-cultural. The times in history when Christianity has been the most potent and effective are the times when it was on the margins and not front and center and obligatory. All of the tools that seduce the culture – power, media, institutions and bombast are not the tools that Jesus used. I need to study and embrace prayer, peace, silence, Sabbath, and worship and let these things work through the power of Christ, even if the world sees no value in them.

Photo by Elijah Henderson on Unsplash

Advertisements

The Politics of The Good

So apparently we can’t call things like we see them anymore.

The social media political environment forces one to double down on ideology instead of being considerate of the reality. If I am on the right, I can’t call injustice for what it is, I have to point out that the left also practiced injustice. It is like we are 7-years old and screaming, “I know you are but what am I?”

Maybe, we, no matter what side we are on, need to get off of our high horses and humble ourselves. “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.”

Image result for political donkey and elephant

Jesus didn’t die to make me right politically, he died to make me right spiritually. Are we exploiting Jesus in our pride to win an argument or appease Twitter followers? Instead, lets humble ourselves and let God make us Grow Up. May the Grown Up person we become- indwelled and charged by Christ – dictate our beliefs and actions. May we move, speak, and respond out of our Christian maturity not out of our religiously sprinkled yet immature need to win or one up someone on the other side.

Our world, our intermingled lives, are not a game. We have to live together. We have to promote the good. Jesus, when he healed a demon possessed man and was accused of working for the other side, said, “A good man brings good out of the good stored up in him, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him.”

May we all, including me, check ourselves and see what good is coming out that is indicative of the good that is stored in us.

“Lord, may I lose every argument but gain your goodness. May that goodness be evident in my thoughts, my words, and my actions. I don’t want to be right in my peers eyes; I want to be right in yours. Make me good Lord and help me work for all the good you are bringing to the world no matter what side that is on. To live for you and die for my own gain.”

Jesus Didn’t Die To Give You A Political Stance

I am fed up.

I don’t like to use this space for social and political commentary but recent events are crying for a different perspective, one that I thought I might be able to speak to.

It seems that there is a misconception in American Christianity that the only way to live out your faith is to be bold and fanatical regarding social or political  issues. Somehow the Christian duty of loving God, loving others, sharing the gospel, and making disciples has been replaced with making political statements, arguing, fanatical postering, and boycotts.

The implication in all of this is that to be a true Christian is to be bold and outspoken about cultural and political issues. Despite lines and lines of Biblical texts that discuss loving your enemies, care for the unfortunate, and going the extra mile, Evangelical Christians feel that the only model for a devout faith involves becoming overly confrontational and entrenched in Christian culture.

John 13:34-35 states,  “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

Matthew 5:16 says, “In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorifyyour Father in heaven.”

Ephesians 5:8 explains, “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light”

Our call as believers and followers of Jesus is to let his life work through our life so that the Kingdom of God (where what God wants done is done) is spread. We can only do this through the transformation of our life through Christ.

If you want to change culture, change your heart, not your political stance. The only hope for this world is Christ’s children living his life in their life.

Take a stand for righteousness and Christlikeness, consider the damage of your own sin in your community before attacking others (even heathens), and above all seek the Kingdom of God and his righteousness.

Do these things, and the cultural and political changes we all long for will become an increasing reality. God looks on the heart, scripture says, and that is where we make change happen.

This is why spiritual formation is so important to me and this is why it should be important to you. Our world needs changed hearts and Christians living Christ-like lives. Heart change is so much more important than political change.

The Focus of Christians Should Be The Heart

Jesus is considered by scholars such as Weber ...

Image via Wikipedia

If you are a pastor and you want to get your name and face on TV just start criticizing everything around you in culture. You will get carted out in front of the cameras and show up on TV talk shows. Unfortunately, the minute you do this will be the minute that you cease to be a proclaimer of the gospel and instead become a political figure.

Jesus, for all of his countercultural sensibilities, was not a political figure and never even appeared to be one. He said that he came into the world, not to condemn the world, but to save it (John 3:17).

His people, the Israelites, during his lifetime, were ruled by the tyrannical Caesars of Rome. The Israelites were the chosen people of God and yet they had the unclean Roman Gentiles occupying their land, taxing their finances and ruling in their holy city. The Jewish people in Jesus’ day could not have been more opposed to anything as they were the Romans and their power over them yet Jesus says nothing about the issue and even shrugs off a question about what belongs to Ceasar so he could make another point about the spiritual life. Jesus’ harshest criticism was not for governments or cultural evils but for hypocrisy and limited faith.

Jesus was much more concerned about transforming hearts than transforming political establishments. Perhaps it is time that Christians take a step back and quit placing the microscope on politicians, Hollywood, and Homosexuals and instead place it on their own hearts. It is in the heart where Christ does his best work.