“We know much less than we think we do, and we practice much less than we do know.”
Rick Frueh circa A.D. 2009
And now I am going to address my views as I understand and interpret Scripture. At the outset, in order to suggest that Jesus allows and supports violence of any kind, you must have a dual kingdom view. What I mean is that almost all believers who support certain kinds of violence due to circumstances, do so in the context of a national kingdom. These believers support war because they have an allegiance to a certain nation, usually the one in which they live.
In order to support some wars you must believe that some wars are “just”, or in other words, justified. And that view emanates from an earthly kingdom view that believes that God favors different nations, depending upon the war. This just war opinion must always be formulated through the conduit of second hand information and usually through secular sources that are almost always slanted by allegiance or political bias. So we receive information from a biased secular source through the television, magazines, the internet, and the general chit chat of public discourse. And wholly based upon that information, we are to form an opinion about the whether it is God’s will for men and women to die on both sides because the nature of the conflict is just, at least from our view?
It is true that governments have the power to punish criminals and declare war, but that should not be the business of God’s church. Let us not forget that we are the collective body of Jesus Christ and collectively we are to minister life through Christ to the uttermost parts of the world. When Jesus speaks about doing good to our enemies and blessing those who curse you, He never gave a caveat that suggested you could abrogate those commands if the nation in which you were living decided a war was necessary. That is the dualistic view of which I formerly mentioned.
Many believers will suggest a difference between murder and killing, and they will say that when God said “Thou shall not kill” that He meant murder. Of course to those who are murdered and to those who are killed the difference is moot – they are all dead. But again, the exception is made through a nationalistic prism, and in fact, if a believer has no allegiance to an earthly nation he cannot make that argument. The conundrum goes further when you realize that many times believers are killing believers in wars. Which side is God on in those cases?
I will openly admit that being a pacifist is revolutionary and radical, especially when you realize how culturally entrenched are our thoughts on the subject. I am 57 years old and I had never met or heard a pacifist until this last decade, although I know there were many. The conscientious objectors were the closest thing to pacifists I had ever known. And since becoming a believer in 1975, not only had I never met a Christian pacifist, I had only heard and believed that violence was sometimes God’s design to solve international disputes. The classic argument went something like this, “What would have happened if we had not stopped Hitler?”
There are a couple of things wrong with that theory. The foundational fissure for the believer is that we can never subscribe to the end justifies the means formula, and we must obey God outright without the thought of consequences. This applies in our personal lives as well. Along the same line, could it be possible that we missed an incredible opportunity to shine a light amidst great darkness? Sometimes the “what ifs” compromise a remarkable commitment to God’s Word.
The Hitler question also illuminates how we as believers have come to think. We think as Americans and many times not Christians. Because we are politically active, and because we salute the flag and say the pledge of allegiance, we have become Americans who happen to be Christians. We must think as followers of Jesus Christ, or at least aggressively attempt to think as one. There are many wars that have been fought since WW II and many wars continue today. Why are we not fighting in some of those wars since many people are being killed at the hands of evil aggressors? The reason is obvious – they are not killing us, which is a larger form of the American walking past the man who was robbed in the parable of the Good Samaritan. Do you see the unchristian and duplicitous nature of such things? In essence, let the Angolans die, it is not a national security issue for us.
I do not wish to belabor the point, I believe you can see my perspective. I will leave you with many passages of Scripture that when taken literally are in stark contrast to the nationalistic violence promoted by western evangelicals. I have yet to hear a believer who lives in American say that violence is approved in some cases, but his reasoning is not in any nationalistic vein. It is always tethered to nationalism, which is another deceptive compromise on many levels. But if we are followers and imitators of Jesus, we are presented with a mountain of teachings that fly in the face of what we have been taught. In this New Testament context, it seems to me that Jesus and His teachings are clear, albeit counter cultural, about how we should live among the darkness.
Many times Jesus did something that was astounding to His followers since it seemed to go against the vision that they had for the Jewish kingdom. You can read about an account in Matthew chapter eight when a Roman centurion, one who was over one hundred men, came to Jesus interceding for his sick servant. Now this soldier was part of the occupying Roman Empire which was one of the most brutal forces in any time. Jesus offered to go to this man’s house but the man refused because he considered Jesus a rabbi and felt it was inappropriate for Jesus to enter his home. It was a sign of respect.
Remember this man was the enemy of the nation of Israel and of God’s people, and he did not come to hear Jesus, he wanted something that would benefit him. He desired his servant to be healed. Jesus did heal the servant with His word, but he also made these interesting statements:
Matt.8:10 - When Jesus heard it, he marvelled, and said to them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel. And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven. But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
What? What kingdom did He mean when He said they would be cast out? And what kingdom would come from around the earth and sit down with Abraham? It doesn’t take much thought to realize that Christ was speaking prophetically about the coming kingdom living in the church. In the context of a “just war” the Jews would be justified in killing this centurion, but notice how he dealt with the earthly, nationalistic, and ethnic kingdom. Instead of directing the Jews to kill this enemy combatant, Jesus dealt with him in a supremely gracious way – He healed his servant.
This might have been the same servant that polished and took care of his sword and garments of war. So not only did Jesus not lead His followers to kill this aggressor, He indirectly helped that centurion in his mission to occupy Israel.
One man who followed the “just war” principle was Barabbas. He was active in a “just war” by being involved in attempting to overthrow Rome. And Barabbas had killed Romans and was described by Mark as a murderer. And yet, when one of Jesus’ followers attempted to murder a Roman, Jesus rebuked him.
Look no further than the Garden of Gethsemane in which Peter picked up a sword to defend Jesus and surely himself. Peter even cut off one soldier’s ear and Jesus healed this man who was a violent and butcherous tool of Rome. And Jesus addressed Peter with these words:
Matt.26:52-54 - Then said Jesus unto him, Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword. Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels? But how then shall the scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be?
Although the words are couched within this unfolding redemptive event, the overall principle should be striking to us. Jesus indicates that He could provide enough power to kill them all, but God’s will is not accomplished by violence through His followers. In fact, to suggest God’s will can sometimes be accomplished through violence smacks of Islam. But in a spectacular paradox, the Prince of Peace presents Himself to the crosshairs of the Prince of Darkness, and Satan’s violence crucifies the sinless and passive Lamb, and redemption is accomplished and the violent king of demons is defeated through his own violence.
I Cor.2:7 - But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory: Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.
Let me close with a listing of Scriptures that openly suggest humble pacifism that is self sacrificing and is in direct contrast to the human aggression that the church has surreptitiously united with the teachings of Christ. Perhaps the Spirit can lift your heart above the trappings of this world and you will be set free from the teachings of men.
Matt.5:9-12 - Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God. Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.
Matt.5:21-22 - Ye have heard that it was said of them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.
Matt.5:38-39 - Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.
Matt.5:43-48 - Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.
For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so? Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.
Matt.6:14-15 For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
Matt.6:24-34 - No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?
Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin:
And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?
Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof. (Pre-emptive war is based on worry and fear that someone might attack first)
** All of the above Scriptures are taken from the Sermon on the Mount. Many evangelicals suggest that the truths in this sermon are abrogated and superseded by national interests and allegiances.
Jn.3:16 - For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
Mk.12:31 - Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these
Lk.6:27-33 - But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you, Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you. And unto him that smiteth thee on the one cheek offer also the other; and him that taketh away thy cloak forbid not to take thy coat also. Give to every man that asketh of thee; and of him that taketh away thy goods ask them not again.
And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise. For if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? for sinners also love those that love them. And if ye do good to them which do good to you, what thank have ye? for sinners also do even the same.
II Tim.1:7 - For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. (Many times war arises out of fear)
I Thess.3:11-13 - Now God himself and our Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, direct our way unto you. And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you: To the end he may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints.
Rom.13:9-10 - For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.
** The above Scriptures deal with love of the brethren, love of the lost, and love of your enemies. Again, many evangelicals suggest that these truths are abrogated and superseded when national interests and security are at stake. In essence, when it is convenient.
Rom.12:19-21 - Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.
** The above Scripture outlines for us how to treat our enemies. But many evangelicals suggest that these commands are only applicable to certain enemies.
I Cor.4:11-13 - Even unto this present hour we both hunger, and thirst, and are naked, and are buffeted, and have no certain dwellingplace; And labour, working with our own hands: being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it: Being defamed, we intreat: we are made as the filth of the world, and are the offscouring of all things unto this day.
Phil.1:29 - For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake;
** The above Scriptures provide for us an expectation of suffering and persecution. But many evangelicals believe that personal persecution should be endured gracefully, but that national persecution demands a violent response, approved by the same Lord that said the above Scriptures.
Either these Scriptures are to be taken literally and applied completely, or their application is to be decided by each individual as to the appropriateness of the situation, the superior jurisdiction of national interests, or just a general situational ethics template. No one fully adheres to the teachings in the Sermon on the Mount, but if we limit their pervasiveness we categorically dilute and compromise the divine essence of their teaching and lower the obedience bar to a culturally convenient level. In short, you have created manageable suggestions and lofty sermon outlines that are far more storybook fiction than truth goals that factually represent the Person of Christ living through His followers.
There are many more New Testament Scriptures that clearly represent a pattern of non-violence and behavior that is counter culture, in fact, I could just print out the four gospels in their entirety. Does it seem odd that Paul commands us to suffer persecution for the cause of Christ without returning retribution but many churches teach retribution is God’s design for national persecution? And think on this: If a nation is allowed to go to a “just war” does that still include the support or participation of the followers of Jesus? Again it is imperative that one stakes out a nationalistic position in order to justify a violent Christian and to completely abrogate the clear teachings of the New Testament. Of course no such delineation was ever given in any of the 27 books of the New Testament.
So we are left with this: Are we Christians completely devoted to following and imitating Jesus Christ? Or are we followers of Jesus but somewhat under the direction of many unsaved and carnal men who dictate which wars to fight? We are to obey the law where it does not conflict with God’s Word, but how much allegiance do we owe any government? And if we owe the government allegiance, even to the point of killing for them, where does this allegiance come from? Do we borrow it from the reservoir of allegiance we have for Christ?
We are given no spiritual flexibility to compartmentalize certain aspects of the life of Jesus Christ as it is mirrored in our lives. The writer of Hebrews alludes to the divine communications through the Old Testament, but he openly reveals that in these days God speaks through Jesus Christ alone. Does the New Testament indicate a coming divine judgment upon this world? Yes, but that is God’s business alone while our calling is the gospel. To get entangled with the affairs of the kingdoms of this world, including the suggestion that it is God’s will for us, not only dilutes the power and distinctiveness of our Savior and His gospel, it has led to an unholy meshing that significantly clouds the real message of the gospel.
The same nationalism that blinded the Jews to the mission of the Messiah, has in many ways blinded the church in the same way. But, you ask, what will happen if we as believers withdraw from the systems of this world and America falls to her enemies? Well, we might just be forced to trust God completely, which in this culture, would be somewhat of a spiritual resurrection.
On 2/13/91 – Two stealth bombers flew to Almeria in the Bagdad suburbs and released two laser guided bombs at approximately 4:30 AM.. The bombs went down the ventilation shafts and went deep inside the bunker, just as planned. But over 400 civilians were sleeping in that bunker, many of them children, and most were killed. From every indication this was unintentional, but such is the nature of war which is resigned to "collateral damage", which is a sterile way of describing human carnage.
In the Old Testament kings went to war with their armies. Today kings watch their men and women die on flat screen televisions; even some kings who previously had maneuvered their way out of direct combat when their time came. In the end, even though God's involvement in violence before Christ seemed obvious, God did not allow King David to build the Temple since he was a man of war. Interesting, no?
If it is God's will to violently resist oppression then that is a direct indictment of a long line of martyrs who eschewed violence and willingly chose martyrdom. If it is God's will to espouse such allegiance to your country that you are willing to kill for it, then all believers should at some point be directly involved with the military. And the church in America should supply the Chinese church, the Venezuelan church, the Sudanese church, and all other churches living in oppressive regimes with arms that will help them violently overthrow their governments, just like America did the British.
If a man was being brutal and killing people in your community, would it be Christian to demand he stop or you would murder 100 innocent people in his neighborhood? That is exactly the construct of the attack on Hiroshima. There is little doubt that overall more lives would have been lost by an invasion, but is the “end justifies the means” the principle that believers should follow when it suits our needs? And are we to make "quantitative" choices concerning death?
Every teaching of Jesus runs counter to what nations do, and with that in mind who do we obey? Is it God's will that the Russian believer gives allegiance to his government while the American believer gives allegiance to his? Where can the unity of the Spirit be found when believers give their allegiance to different secular governments and are committed to kill each other to forward their particular government's cause? Can we lay aside the teachings of Jesus when your country calls? Everyone would say “No!”, which is why many have had to make exceptions to His teachings. I sincerely hope everyone would at least give a little thought to what I have shared regardless of how radical it may seem and how it is in direct conflict with what you considered “settled law” within your own heart and mind.
No one desires a cross. No one. We all want affirmation and recognition. We pursue security and life. We all need affection and friendship. But no one wants a cross. Of course we love the cross upon which our wonderful Savior died for us. We all love and appreciate that cross. But no one wants a cross for themselves. No one.
But the cross is what we are called to. A sinner realizes he is lost. The Spirit illuminates to him just Who Jesus is, and that sinner believes that Jesus is the Savior and the only way to eternal life. The sinner is born again and his life and eternity is changed forever. That sinner is now a child of Almighty God. God is his Savior, his protector, his sustainer, his provider, and his everything. So the rest of this believer’s life on earth will be strewn with material blessings, fame and recognition, and all the accolades this world has to offer. Right?
Like every believer, this one is called to a cross. The cross of Jesus is the foundation of his faith, but there is another cross to which this believer is called. This is the cross where he is called to die to himself. This cross will not be easy or pleasant; this cross will prove to be painful and rewarding. We, as followers of the Lord Jesus Christ, are called to die to ourselves, which is a spiritual cross. Our thoughts, our desires, our perspectives, and our lives must all die upon this cross. The task is daunting, but the reward is pleasing our Master.
I wrote about it here.
Convenience and a culturally formed cross is not at all what this cross is to be. This cross will strip us all of any pride and will open us up to ridicule and shame, even though this same cross will not allow us to respond with anything but forgiveness. And any persecution will not come because we are outspoken and belligerent, and it will not be because we are fierce and argumentative. This cross prohibits that kind of fleshly projection. And if we are to die to ourselves it will not come quickly and without much pain; the pain which accompanies this cross is both for the glory of God and for the sake of sinners…exactly like the cross of Jesus.
If this western culture is so unlike Christ and is in fact against almost everything Jesus lived and taught, then why are we not so different than our surroundings? The answer is embarrassingly obvious. The many caricatures of Jesus that believers have created are to serve their own misguided agendas and not the Scriptural template which is much more radical and extreme. And just a reading of Matthew chapters 5 thru 7 present a challenge which has been softened through the years in order to make it fit into our established lifestyles.
But the teachings of the Sermon on the Mount are nothing less than editorial facets of the cross which we are commanded to bear and die upon. You would think that a group of people who sacrificed themselves and their wills in such a hedonist culture would be a remarkable light in the midst of such darkness. But yet the church that numbers itself in the millions in this country are no more than an undistinguished segment of this western culture. And the most notice we get from the world is when some preacher is asked to be on one of many television talk shows, usually to give another perspective on gay rights or abortion. The glorious cross of Jesus Christ has been relegated to one of many voices about social and moral issues.
But looming large is this question: Do we believe that every sinner that dies spends a conscious eternity in one of two places? And if so, do we believe that only those in Jesus Christ will spend eternity with Him? And do our lives mirror our lips when we say, “Yes, I believe that.”? And if we believe that we will spend a glorious eternity with the Lord of all Lords, then why does this world mean so much to us? Why do we return evil for evil because our reputations have been sullied? And why do we attack lost sinners when we say we know they are headed for damnation and they need to read some living epistles that speak of Christ and redemption?
Lofty words, lofty thoughts, and lofty truths. Most of what should be obvious in the New Testament has been repacked for the western consumption and causes little if any spiritual expenditure. Living the Christian life has become easy and mundane, and even the most hedonistic, debt ridden congregation is charitably called “evangelical”. Jesus had no place upon which to lay His head and yet we have ornate edifices that we pay for with borrowed money from institutions that use our money to lend to all sorts of evil enterprises.
See, just a cursory examination brings up all sorts of uncomfortable places that are obviously incongruous with Biblical teachings unless we redefine those teachings all the while professing we espouse the literal interpretation of Scripture. And yet there are many Scriptures we absolutely do not believe regardless of how passionate our protestations to the contrary. Here are just a few verse that make nice plaques but are not even targets for which to strive anymore:
“But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;”
“Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:”
“For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.”
“Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.”
“Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.”
“And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.”
Now how in God’s dear name can we bring those truths out of abstract belief into living faiths?
There is only one way and that way is the cross. We must die to ourselves and become alive to Christ. Taking up our cross involves a daily death to our desires and a daily reaffirmation and modeling of God’s truth. And if indeed we die to ourselves, who is it that lives on?
Gal.2:20 - I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.
How different would our lives be if that truth was demonstrably observable in our lives? What aspects of our mundane and nondescript western lives would be radically different if we actually were crucified with Christ and Christ Himself was living through us? So often we have taken a verse like this and made them pitiful and powerless by diluting them so deeply that they are just convenient life helps and not the dynamic exhibitions of the Christ? Some teach that a verse like this means that we should not respond when a car cuts us off.
How tragic and how pathetic are those watered down teachings. Of course we should not respond in those situations, however there are many unbelievers who exhibit such patience. To be crucified with Jesus Christ goes far beyond situational ethics and response readjustment. And using that scenario, we are supposed to relinquish our rights, and when we truly embrace that issue we are exempt from offense. And we are called to immediately forgive that driver, love him, let him move ahead of us, and pray for him as well. And that is just one small example.
To walk in the desolate place with the life of Christ being our life force we can see everyone through the prism of divine love and the divine will that none should perish. What are my rights and feelings when compared with the eternal destination of others? The plight of others should be my motivation, especially when I am fully aware of my eternal standing by God’s grace. And in those circumstances, where should we find our “self worth”?
Gal.6:14 - But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.
When we stand before the Nail Scarred One in God’s throne room will we draw anything from this world? Spurgeon once observed that when we see the Risen Christ “We will think ourselves a thousand fools for ever having any affection for the things of this world”. With what can the world tempt a man who glories in the cross of Jesus Christ? If that cross is what energizes his life, and if that cross is his boast, the glitter and glamour of this world has no power over him. He is willing to be demeaned; he is willing to be maligned; he willing to be lied about; and he is willing to suffer any and all indignities for the sake of the One whose cross is his glory! Nothing compares with this cross, and in fact, all personal sufferings because of this cross are just incandescent opportunities to illuminate that same cross!
The world believes that life comes by avoiding death, while in the Spirit the truth is just the opposite.
Matt.10:37-39 - He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me. He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.
Losing your life for Christ’s sake is finding it again. How many of us are still experiencing a treadmill life experience that is hardly different than the good man next door who isn’t the least bit interested in Jesus Christ? And Jesus teaches that our love for Him should make our affection for our family appear as hate. That, my friends, is a vicious indictment of the modern western church. We have thousands upon thousands of teachings, videos, books, and conferences on how to love our spouses, but how many conferences are there on how to love Jesus?
We are exhorted to have three hour “date nights” with our earthly spouses but how many three hour prayer dates do we have with Jesus? How many three hour Bible dates do we have? Whose love do we work at more? And yet Christ Himself stated emphatically that if we love the things of this world more than we do Him we are not worthy of Him. And given that last statement in those verses, how many believers are living lost lives? Now here again is a verse that must mean something:
Lk.14:33 - So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.
Ok, you can breathe again. Since Jesus asks us to give to the poor we can safely assume he doesn’t mean for us to sell all that we have and never accumulate anything else. Whew! What a relief! But that verse must mean something. I have heard preachers say that “You can have anything as long as it doesn’t have you.” Almost inevitably the more you get the more it gets you. In a practical sense this verse would probably exhort us to live way below our means and allow the rest to forward God’s kingdom and the gospel of Jesus Christ. And we already should know that we should consider ourselves as unprofitable servants and just grateful slave/sons to the One who showers us with His redemptive grace.
In the end, there is precious little teaching of the crucified life, and much of the teaching is very guarded and reserved and lacks the powerful challenge of the Spirit. The salt has turned to sand, the light has been extinguished, the hill has become a valley, and what should be profoundly conspicuous has quietly taken an insignificant place in a culture of darkness. We need a massive revival of the cross, both His and ours. Print all the literature you can, and build all the building you can, and organize all the political movements you can, and write all the books you can, and write all the blog posts like this one you can, but if we do not return to the resurrected life of Jesus Christ via our own death on the cross we will continue on the unassuming path on which we now walk. And we will continue to project a fraudulent and counterfeit manifestation of Christ and His kingdom, and we His contented imposters.
Lk.14:27 - And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.