As He is...So are We in this World
Col.3:1-11 - If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.
2 Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.
3 For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.
4 When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.
5 Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry:
6 For which things' sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience:
7 In the which ye also walked some time, when ye lived in them.
8 But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth.
9 Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds;
10 And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him:
11 Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all.
The plan of Almighty God was always redemption. The mystery of the Incarnation, and the mystery of Calvary, would be magnified through the mystery and glory of the resurrection. They are all interdependent and inseparable. And this eternal redemption is offered to any sinner who comes by faith alone in the Lord Jesus. That grace is unfathomable.
After a sinner is born again through faith in Christ and by the regenerating power of the Spirit of God, God still has a plan for that sinner/saint. While we were still in our sins we paid attention to all the things of this world and especially those things that interest and affect us. In fact, we were manipulated by all the trends and changes that happen in this present world. We were members of this fallen kingdom and we acted like it.
In this fallen kingdom people stake out a position and defend it while they usually attack any different position. They desire and work feverously for personal prosperity and they complain when that prosperity is hindered by anything and anyone. Their discussions usually contain a large amount of attacks on people and trends that affect them adversely. And within this fallen kingdom there are many differing allegiances. Some embrace a nation, some embrace an ethnicity, some embrace a culture, some embrace a morality, some embrace a profession, and some embrace a variety of these things.
It is a revolving rat race to be sure, and people’s lives are consumed with the earthly present and the earthly future with a decidedly hopeful desire for the positive in the future. And by a positive I mean economically, physically, and in a way that brings them personal enjoyment and fulfillment. Altogether, that is commonly referred to as the “American Dream”. Hundreds of millions of people have chased such a dream and realized it in varying degrees.
But that is not the blueprint for those who believe in and profess to follow the Lord Jesus Christ. Everything outlined and taught in the New Testament, as well as the example of Christ’s earthly life, reveals a life that is supposed to be different from those who I have just described. Much different. In fact, our lives are supposed to be so different than those around us that they will elicit curiosity from some and persecution from others. An obvious sign that our lives have lost that remarkable essence is when neither curiosity nor persecution are evident.
It seems that while we do a little needed “in house” cleaning concerning false teachers and false teachings, that we have become content with our blended lifestyles. And because of the tension between what Christ taught and what we live, we have conveniently and out of necessity altered the New Testament teachings so that they conform to us and not the reverse. So the result is that believers can now demonstrate greed and avarice, complain when things are not given to prosperity, criticize and castigate lost sinners, offer hate speech toward lost people who are liberal, and generally exhibit all kinds of behavior that is acceptable in the fallen kingdom.
I am one who unashamedly confronts the Rob Bells and the Joel Osteens and the Rick Warrens among us for their deep compromise and in some cases blatant apostasy. But I wish I could stop there and bask in the glory of being theologically orthodox. I wish I could but I cannot. I see a continued and systemic compromise well within our own “orthodox” community. I see lifestyles and speech that has been so compromised that they no longer can be considered a reflection of New Testament teachings.
And although I am unashamed at confronting error, I am ashamed at the way this world has contorted the way I think and act sometimes. I am ashamed at how this world encourages my self righteousness to varying degrees of success. I am ashamed at how material things have tugged at my heart and through the years made me compromise. I am ashamed at how I can remain unemotional at the eternal plight of sinners. In general, I am ashamed at how unlike Jesus I often am.
You see, it isn’t enough for us to point to some monolithic creed and claim that authenticates us spiritually. How can we in the west who live comfortably in a modern day Babylon not be aware of what the culture has done to the church and the individual believer? And yet we continue to enjoy this tepid spiritual life that soothes itself with some half hearted moral debates and some full hearted economic debates. But void of the demonstrative exhibition of the life of Jesus Christ, we have carved out a religious pattern which is acceptable by majority participation but unacceptable by any honest interpretation of Christ’s life and teachings. That has been some ingenious metamorphosis.
And still there is no clarion call from the church and its leaders. If you are pro-life, and anti-gay marriage, and pro-capitalism you are a “conservative” evangelical. What a scandal. And even if that pro-life, anti-gay marriage, and pro-capitalism man happens to deny the deity of Christ, you still can endorse him and allow him the pulpit in your “orthodox” Christian universities. What kind of treason is that? To say we have lost the axe head is to be generous.
But even if we see the deep compromise in such an event, we still cannot be blind to the overarching need of a sweeping revival that breaks and reforms us into His living image. Being “orthodox” must go deeper than written doctrinal statements and certain moral tenants. If those doctrinal statements and moral tenants have so little affect on our lives that we reflect the culture and in essence live like the false teachers we castigate although on a less prosperous level, then they are nothing more than religious wind.
In effect, our lips draw close to Him but our hearts are far, far away. That is some juggling feat! I suggest that when we see some obvious compromise in the evangelical community, we not only expose and confront it, but we allow the Spirit to shine that same light upon us.
I desire to love Him and serve Him and be like Him. I have much uncharted territory in all those endeavors. But yet I loathe my sometimes spiritual inertia. I owe Him everything and yet why do I give Him so little? I can be moved to tears as I ponder the cross, and yet my flesh can so easily take hold and return to Martha’s kitchen, usually to wash my own set of dishes. When I read the biographies of Wesley and Whitefield and Finney I feel like I am reading Christian fiction. How can those words be true? And if they are accurate, even assuming that all men have feet of clay, what does that say about our spiritual standard today?
But we are not of this world. And until we believe that with all of our hearts and minds, we will continue to exhibit an amalgamated form of Christianity which draws from all kinds of sources. Not until we count our lives as belonging completely to Him, and our true lives being in and with Him, will we once again be seen as salt and light. It continues to be a sad and painful spectacle, and yes, I believe that those of us who see it clearly are the most culpable of all. That, my friends, should break our hearts.
I Jn.4:15-21 - Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God.
16 And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.
17 Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world.
18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.
19 We love him, because he first loved us.
20 If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?
21 And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.
As He is…so are we in this world. Selah.