Sunday, February 12, 2012

He is Still Despised

Is.53:3 - He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
ho would want Him? And if they despised Him back then, how much more is He despised today? Oh most people would not say they despise Him, and many will draw near to Him with their lips, but their hearts are far from Him. The chamber of the heart is a sacred and hallow place. Most who profess Him have neglected that place and have exchanged it for the soulish place of self.
The ultimate paradox is that the all powerful Creator of the Universe lowered Himself even unto death for our sakes. And His calling today is not a calling of elevation and pride. It is not of self centeredness nor is it of personal gain. The entire Christian life is paradoxical and antithetical to earthly understandings. The first shall be last; he that loses his life for my sake shall find it; he that humbles himself will be exalted; he that dies shall live; and many, many more confounding statements represent the mysteries of the kingdom.
Jesus is despised and rejected still in 2012. Oh men may use His name, but for the most part that is not the true and living Jesus. The humble Servant Who had nowhere to lay His head, that Jesus is despised. Weakness in today’s market place is considered counter productive, and those that are meek may lose out with all this world has to offer. The Christ that walked in abject humility and allowed Himself to be mocked and scorned by His own creation is not esteemed.
It is the robust, masculine Jesus that is preached by men like Mark Driscoll that is esteemed. It is the prosperous Jesus that is preached by T. D. Jakes and Kenneth Copeland that is esteemed. It is the pragmatic fix all Jesus that is preached by Rick Warren that is esteemed. It is the seed faith Jesus that was preached by Oral Roberts that is esteemed. It is the self ego Jesus that is preached by Robert Schuller that is esteemed. It is the feel good Jesus that is preached by Joel Osteen that is esteemed. All those Jesus’s are esteemed, but the Crucified and Risen Jesus is rejected and despised.
Phil.3:10 - That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;
onformable unto His death? No one desires that kind of faith, and no one wants to follow that kind if Jesus. The masses want a form of resurrection power that makes them prosperous and successful. But who seeks the fellowship of His sufferings? Think about that phrase - “His sufferings”. That is not being stuck in traffic. That isn’t having your air conditioner go out. That isn’t even like having diabetes or not being able to sleep well. His sufferings go much deeper and go into the depths of a disciple’s heart.
His sufferings change a person more and more into His likeness, first on the inside and then with a living revelation of that Jesus. Have we forgotten that Christ lives inside us through the Person of the Holy Spirit? And His presence within us, although a glorious mystery, is not for our personal aggrandizement. To use Jesus as a stepping stone for earthly success and prosperity is blasphemous. All those teachings I mentioned rob the very essence from the faith that believes in and follows Jesus. In effect, all who embrace such teachings are following a mirage.
Lk.18:17 - Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child shall in no wise enter therein.
little child? But watch as preaching peacocks strut across the stage and claim to hear God’s audible voice and some even claim to have visited heaven. Listen as snake oil salesmen sell some self serving religion with deft and artful manipulation. Watch the masses traverse sea and land just to hear their favorite preacher tell them fanciful stories about a genie called Jesus. And the modern preachers are more thespians than they are men of God.
But what could be more humble than a little child? That portrait of Jesus is rejected wholesale in favor of a western Jesus who is more a valet than He is the Risen Christ. We are called to emulate the Jesus who walked upon this very earth.
Phil.2:4-8 - Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.
5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:
7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:
8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.

Jesus, the Eternal Word and second Person of the Godhead, came down in the likeness of sinful flesh. How can we even understand such condescension and selflessness? But the Spirit commands us to have that same mind in our own lives. And in so doing we are supposed to care about the welfare of others above our own cares. Jesus was a servant with no earthly reputation which would draw men unto Him. Anyone who would follow Him would find footsteps of self sacrifice and even pain. This world is no friend of Jesus.
Lk.16:19-25 - There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day:
20 And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores,
21 And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man's table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores.
22 And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried;
23 And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.
24 And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.
25 But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented.
curious teaching. Look at verse 25 and try to twist that principle. The rich man spent his life pursuing prosperity and success, but Lazarus was dealt a much different hand. And Jesus made that an issue. Of course we know that no one goes to heaven because of pity, but there is an authentic teaching here that puts in perspective the material things of this world. And once the perspective on the material world is skewed, then the theology begins to erode until it becomes nothing more than pep talks and strategies for earthly success and prosperity. And as our Lord taught, that is a grievous error and leads to spiritual shipwreck.
Let me return once more and emphatically state that most of what is being taught and practiced in the western evangelical church is false. The suggestion that Jesus wants everyone to be financially prosperous is not only patently false, but it rips to shreds the very fabric of the faith once delivered to the saints. When one’s financial status becomes part of the discipleship equation then you no longer are preaching gospel truth.
The true Jesus is still despised and rejected even in churches that bear His name. Let us humble ourselves and begin to search out the more selfless aspects of Christ and how they must apply in this hedonistic culture. If it is very bad today, then should Jesus tarry our children will be surrounded by a false church. It is most alarming, but this Laodicean church was prophesied in Scripture. But every single one of us has a choice. Many are entangled with this false church. Many others go to church but are far too busy to seek Christ and His Word. Millions go through the ecclesiastical motions week after week without even questioning the demonstrable lack of spiritual power.
Do you wish to trace the gospel narrative of the Lord Jesus? Well get used to animal stench and straw for that is where it begins. And I need not illuminate you as to where it all leads. Oh yes, there is a glorious resurrection, however the path to the empty tomb is littered with blood, sweat, and tears.

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