Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Who is Your Lord?


It has become very easy to answer that question with “Jesus!” and with that proclamation you claim to follow Him as Lord. But a deeper and more scrutinized assessment may reveal something much different. Before I get into this post I refer you to this article.


Here we have the secular government attempting to set the parameters within a secular institution called commerce. In short, the fallen are setting the rules on the fallen field of battle. And in the midst of this struggle the evangelicals begin to take up carnal arms and create an atmosphere of fear, self pity, and a chorus of complaining. And all of those things do not represent what Jesus said and taught. Somehow the church believes it can sanctifiy fallen systems.

So let us unpack this entire scenario and we would do well to realize that there will be more in the future. Yes, if you are a follower of Jesus you may be called to withdraw from some institutions, or pay hefty fines, or even go to jail. And if you are a follower of Jesus you must rejoice in every situation and realize sinners are watching you. What you do and how you react may very well impact someone who does not know Jesus. And that impact may be for Jesus or it may be just another voice in a cultural war. If a man decides he wants to play baseball, he must abide by the rules of the game. People were reticent to pay taxes to Rome because they knew they would be used for wicked things, and yet Jesus said pay them. And He did not say murmur about them.

But if believers are going to engage in secular commerce, which many of us do, when the rule makers place upon us rules which breach our spiritual commitments, then we must either disobey and suffer gladly the consequences, or resign to do something else. But to press for our rights in a fallen judicial and political system makes Jesus a servant to the fallen. And certainly all the complaining and fear mongering does not represent the Lordship of Jesus at all.

This world is not our home. It never can be, and when we are given the privilege to suffer for His name’s sake we must do it in bold humility. It is not our calling to clean up the world, it is our calling to share His message, sing His praises, and show forth His very life. Do you think it will be easy? Do you feel used when the world castigates you? Are you offended because the rules of the world might demand a sacrifice from you? This is where the spiritual talk ends and what you are and who you follow will be revealed.

When we are persecuted for righteousness sake we must rejoice and show forth the praises of Him who has called us into the fellowship of His sufferings. Have your hands been run through with nails as of yet? Then why do you squeal and complain? Does your head bear a crown of thorns? Is your face wet with the spit of wicked men? Does your side bear the wound of a thrust in spear? Have you been blindfolded and punched and mocked? Then how can you even say a word? When we are mocked and when the world attempts to make us deny our Lord and His teaching, rejoice, since this is a sacred opportunity to lift Him up, not to do battle with carnal weapons.

We are a peculiar people who sing praises when we are thrown into prison unjustly. When we are mocked we ask God to forgive them. When we are smitten on one cheek we offer the other. When we are despised we love those that hate us. We cannot walk around offended at every turn. “Great peace have they that love they law and nothing shall offend them”. Do you expect this world to be your friend? Receive your persecution as a badge of honor and like the early apostles rejoice that you are counted worthy to suffer for His name! Do we pick up the stones cast our way and throw them back, or like the first martyr, Stephen, do we forgive those who would kill us?

When will we allow the Spirit to infuse in us the mind of Christ and in so doing we reject the wisdom of this world? Jesus is Lord, and His footsteps are colored with blood. What does deny yourself mean? Does it mean fight for our rights? Does it mean sign petitions? Does it mean demand that we are not persecuted? Does it mean we desire a pleasant path? Or does it mean we may suffer the same indignities as did our precious Lord? And when the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune come our way, do we pick them up and fling them back or do we receive them as sacred wounds for Him? Being a follower of Jesus does not lend itself to earthly self esteem. It is a journey which many times bears no reward except the knowledge and fellowship of Him. And if that is not enough, well, there is nothing left to say. If you desire a painless and respectful road you must turn back now because His road is anything but those things.

But remember, His road leads to Him in eternity. If eternity with Him is what you seek, then the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace. We have absolutely lost our eternal focus. At the slightest piece of persecution or even the hint of impending constrictions upon our so called rights we squeal and organize and protest, just like other secular groups do. And we are blind to the disobedience inherent in such actions. In essence, while we protest in Jesus’ name we ignore and even disobey His teachings. How’s that for double mindedness!

The church collectively and the individual American believer is no longer seen as different in speech and actions. We use the same terminology and we leverage the same political and judicial tools as do those who know not Christ. Those that walk in darkness are not affected or impressed by our light or our Jesus. They see and hear much moral chest pounding, and they see a seat at the table filled by just another voice. They do not see any humility or any genuine attempt to behave and speak like Jesus. It is a most distressing fact that the American evangelical church is not known for Jesus at all. We are know for our moral standard, usually centered on abortion and gays, and we are known for our economic perspective usually centered on lower taxes and capitalism, and we are know for our patriotism and love for this nation. And we are also known for strongly suggesting the founding fathers were on “our side” and were walking with “our Jesus”.

Wow. And yet most professing believers would read that and immediately retreat to well worn debates like “What are we supposed to do just let the liberals walk all over us?” Or “God wants His voice to be heard!” Or “We need more Christians to be involved!” I have heard more than once preachers say “We are not supposed to roll over and be a doormat!” To that I say, “Yes, we are”. We are supposed to lay down our lives to be salt and light to a world in desperate need of Christ. We are supposed to suffer ourselves to be defrauded. We are supposed to render good for evil. But we have so mangled and distorted the image of Jesus, and more accurately largely ignored what He said, that we have created our own little caricature of Christ which fits in nicely with a fallen political and nationalistic system. It is all so self serving.

So what do you do when the government makes you provide healthcare that includes a coverage for contraception, and especially contraception which is by definition an abortion? You have three choices.

First: You can realize that your tax dollars go to support abortion even now. So if you are afraid of the slightest appearance of compromise you will have to stop paying taxes. Our taxes are used in all sorts of ways that are diametrically opposed to Jesus and His teachings, and yet He told us to pay them. So you can offer the mandated health insurance and use any opportunity to witness Jesus to your employees. Please do not make abortion the issue, and at the very most use that issue softly in order to present Jesus in word and in deed.

Second: You can refuse to acquiesce to the government's legal demand and sell your business. You can do something else because your conscience will not allow you to compromise in that way. And if you decide to do that, you must do it with sincere humility and with a view of sacrifice toward Him. You cannot exhibit self pity; you cannot lament to others; you cannot feel put upon; you cannot have a continuous diatribe about the government; and you must genuinely pray for those who have made you come to this decision. The world awaits actions like that.

Thirdly: You may refuse to offer that healthcare, and you may continue your business. You must do that in a spirit of humility and a sincere exhibition that you do not enjoy a good fight, but you must bow to what you feel the Spirit is saying to you. And indeed if this is your course, you must be prepared to either be fined or even go to jail. But here is where you must ultimately steer your persecution. If you are sanctioned in some way by the government, you cannot allow them to make the issue about contraception or the religious rights or some amendment of the Constitution. You must represent Jesus Christ, not some issue.

And that is where the Spirit meets the flesh. Martyrs must never act like martyrs. Those that carry the cross of Christ must also live in His redemption. There must be no critical spirit or a desire to accumulate some mob that writes letters or castigates those that persecute you. If this is the path you choose it must be all about Him and not you. That sounds simple but in the Spirit it requires a level of self denial that has a high cost.

So often the church has entered the political fray and taken on the mantle of protector of the Holy Grail. The church has made it all about issues and morals and religious convictions and in the earthly battle Jesus is nowhere to be found. What does Jesus look like in this modern, hedonistic culture? Would Jesus get all entangled with the fallen systems of men, or would He shine redemption in the eyes of those who hate? Would He gather His forces and fight fire with fire, or would He say again, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do”?

So the ultimate question is this: Who is your Lord? Is it Jesus, or is it you masquerading as Jesus?


Anonymous said...

Good morning pastor Rick, thanks again for this enlightening article.. It is unfortunate that modern Christians have made an idol of themselves instead of seeing that all things revolve around Jesus. The church has bred a generation of Pharisees who twist the word of God to suit their own agenda, and will openly persecute those who even dare to hint that they are wrong to do so.

Cherie c. said...

I have read some parts of the article and have come to the conclusion that this whole thing boils down to good intentions.

Before October, I would have said, oh those poor business owners, or that poor brother and sister in the Lord.

Now, its like, so what. It could be worse.

In my job as an human resource professional there are many things that go against my faith, but for now this is where the Lord has me. For now I must, and do bring these things before the Lord in prayer. Its funny, at one time I thought nothing of a couple who lived together unmarried, but would be uncomfortable with a same sex couple. Talk about being a Hippocrate!

Fornication is fornication. So I have learned to be prayerful about situations like this. We keep forgetting that God made good and evil for His purposes. We should fall down on our knees and Thank God that we don't face nearly what other brothers and sisters in the Lord face on a daily basis.

If these people think this is persecution, they really are not seeing past the end of their nose, and.......God help them when true persecution comes.

So much to learn, so little time to learn it. Thanks Pastor

Cherie c.

Anonymous said...

So true and the church's reasoning in the U.S. is false. They reason that they have this added protection of Amendment rights or Founding Fathers dogma besides the Word of God and the power of Jesus' death and resurrection. They seem to believe that only christians in the United States have special divine privileges and should not suffer persecution because the Founding Fathers paid the price. And they seem to believe that their military pays the price as well. They seem to think the military men and women are there to fight and protect their spiritual rights. They seem to believe that these young men and women, who make many sacrifices for their country and are brave patriots, are also paying for some divine perks for Americans, so that Americans will never have to suffer christian persecution.

Some of these misled christians use and exploit their own people for the purpose of feeling self-assured and self-righteous about their rights to be the Children of God. They forget that to be a child of God, that they must depend on God entirely, not on an army, a government, or an earthly system.

There's going to be a lot of confused and disillusionned christians in the West if the economy ever collapses or if, God forbid, the nation goes through another depression, or a massive natural disaster. They'll be trying to blame the man in the White House, or one Party or a bunch of earthly factors, and demand their rights, but will find out that the world is not their friend.

michael said...

I thought you exegeted this verse well with this article:Gal 6:10 So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.

Note the universality of that word in the verse "everyone".

Discipleship it seems to me we have glossed over and have not taught our young from their early years onward. We don't stop being a disciple after we leave formal training.

This is why I continue daily praying and speaking this vision out in hopes more and more will come to understand the meaning?
1 chron.16:31 Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice, and let them say among the nations, "The LORD reigns!"
32 Let the sea roar, and all that fills it; let the field exult, and everything in it!
33 Then shall the trees of the forest sing for joy before the LORD, for he comes to judge the earth.

As has commented another good and wise word to those who have ears to hear it!

mrs k said...

Come, precious Spirit, soften our hardened and deceived hearts to absorb the incisive words of this post. Strengthen Your followers to live them out in repentance and renewal. Thank You for the mighty, unseen winds of change You are stirring up in these last days. Your will be done. Amen.

Anonymous said...

It's coming folks! For our persecution is nigh.... Time now to ready ourselves. -Noel

Anonymous said...

Hi Pastor Rick,
This is a little off topic, but about persecution all the same. Your post really touched me. All of them do really. I am mentally ill, schizoaffective, and work in a small phone room. People talk about me a lot (yes I am crazy but they don't "know" and really do talk)- it is so hard some days. I pray for them but get so tired. This was one of those days. Your post was just what I needed to remind me of what my Lord has gone through, and what my response is always to be. Thank you. HS.

Cherie c said...

Dear HS,

God Bless your heart. We all have somethings in our lives that we struggle with everyday, but He who has called you is Faithful and True and will give you strength where you have none.

Please know dear one in Christ, you are in my prayers. Your brothers and sisters in the Lord love you as does our Lord and Savior Jesus.

Cherie c.

Anonymous said...

Pastor Rick, thank you for this reminder that we are just passing through and that we are NOT to lay up our treasures here on earth. Living the "crucified life" is never easy, but when we do, we are no longer in bondage to this world and its ways. We must follow the example set by our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. Thank you Father God for your precious Son. All of you who have commented on this article have blessed me as well. Let's stay the course. We're almost home!

Anonymous said...

If history repeats itself, persecution of Jesus' followers will come from the religious folks seeking to protect their worldly interests.

John 11:47 Then the chief priests and the Pharisees called a meeting of the Sanhedrin. “What are we accomplishing?” they asked. “Here is this man performing many miraculous signs. 48 If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and then the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.” NIV

Anonymous said...

"First: You can realize that your tax dollars go to support abortion even now."

Thank you. I was waiting for someone to notice this.