CHRIST IS OUR LIFE
Rom.12: I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
How many of us sat under preachers that railed against smoking and drinking and dancing and they used those verses as their foundation? How tragic it is that so many believers have an earthly perspective on things which is often the same perspective as unbelievers have. Although it may be that George Zimmerman did not break any of man’s laws, is that what we derive comfort from as followers of Jesus? A teenage boy raised in a domestic mess is now dead and he was doing nothing wrong. Go ahead and embrace all your law and order mantras if that is what gives you solace, but I feel a real sense of tragedy.
What if Zimmerman was a believer? What if he carried a taser instead of a gun? What if did not call that boy an expletive? What if as a believer Zimmerman had asked the boy if he needed a ride to wherever he was going? And how deeply tragic it is to see believers and unbelievers alike pounce on the fact that Trayvon Martin had traces of marijuana in his blood. If that was the criteria for being deserving of death I should have been shot forty years ago. I sold drugs to high school kids. But I have used this tragedy in order to convict us on a higher spiritual issue.
You see, the “What would Jesus do?” church phrase seems to end at the barrel of s gun. Our calling as His followers is not to beat the law and order drums. Those who do that are already legion. Our calling is redemption. And sometimes that means we are going to be vulnerable. But so often the world supplies the narrative and the parameters and the church participates on the world’s terms. This case should once again wake us up to see just how fallen the world is and just how incongruous our faith is with what the world practices.
But the Zimmerman issue represents a deeper and more profound issue about which most of the church is willingly and pleasantly ignorant. The winds of this world’s perspectives blow with incredible strength. They are both open and clandestine and carry an influential weight that captures the mind and heart with partial truths and earthly logic. The evil force behind these winds is incredibly clever and uses all kinds of leverages in order to draw people into embracing the fallen perspectives of this world. The church has been called to a life which is not of this world, and yet so often we have distilled it down to the avoiding of cigarettes and beer and profane language.
And if you are against abortion and gay marriage you are comparatively a mature and surrendered follower of Jesus. That, of course, is measured by comparing ourselves with ourselves but it has no Scriptural or spiritual validity. People are influenced and even controlled by imagery and information. And in these days of multiple televisions with hundreds of channels with 24 hour programming, and with the incredible spread of all the many social media technologies, the average person’s mind can be altered and controlled simply by the amount of disinformation to which he exposes himself. And not only does he expose himself to fraudulent information streams, but most enjoy and are even addicted to it. This includes those who profess Christ.
This issue of affecting and infecting the hearts and minds through the senses cannot be overstated. And it isn’t just embracing what the world says is “conservative” and rejecting what the world says is “liberal”. It goes far deeper than those safe monikers. Truth as understood through the Scriptures is sacred and yet it cannot be just printed upon a Hallmark card and used to prove our orthodox spirituality. The church has come to love its doctrinal statements and has long since given up any sacrificial pursuit as it pertains to applications of those truths.
The life in the Spirit which not only follows Jesus but allows He Himself to live through us as divine conduits is not sedentary and stagnant. It must continue to grow in the grace and the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. That is not just some innocuous phrase which is meant to elicit “amens” from the pews or fit neatly into a clean and organized systematic theology. When John the Baptist declared, “He must increase but I must decrease” he was uttering a statement which profoundly captures the very essence of our lives. And if we truly examine the life and ministry of Jesus we must see just how He lived and spoke with such a distinctiveness that was at odds with what even religious people had come to believe. And His teachings were incompatible with the ways of the world.
But today the church has learned to embrace both the teachings of Jesus and the teachings of the world. And since they are at odds with each other then just what is the church embracing? In essence the church is embracing itself and not Jesus. And given that we all wear western glasses and we see and understand things with a western bias, the Scriptures have been taught through that same bias. But the tension between what we believe and practice and live as opposed to what Jesus actually taught would be unbearable. So the church has slowly but surely changed the interpretation of the message of Jesus in order to alleviate any spiritual tension. And so what we have today is the Christianity of man and not the Christianity of Christ and it feels oh so good.
Oh how it must grieve the Spirit of God when He sees what has become of the entity that still calls itself “the church”. He is called the Spirit of Christ and He knows with eternal knowledge and experience who is the Son of God. It was He who impregnated the virgin with the incarnate Christ in Nazareth. And yet now He finds a church consumed with itself and walking in the ways of the heathen. And even worse He hears a church teach lies and claim they come from Him and the Redeemer.
But where is that transforming power which frees the mind and the heart from the teachings and even the perspectives of this fallen world? Where is that powerful renewing of the mind which takes the written revelation of Jesus and empowers the new man to see things as He sees them? How can we be a friend to the ways of the world and a friend to Jesus as well? This life that follows Jesus is not just so we can find a voice that directs the moral compass of a fallen culture. No, this is a life which crucifies our former lives in all their fallen glory and allows a new creation to burst forth which has no relation to the former. And permeating everything within this new life is Jesus and His gospel redemption. Everything else must be residual.
Who carries a cross anymore? Who endures persecution with patience and even rejoicing? Who allows the world to battle out their own wars while we quietly and with humility go about our Father’s business? These are the issues which must define us as believers or they openly indict us. There cannot be two masters. In Christ there cannot be any competitors nor can there be a ameliorating between the fallen and the sacred.
It is time we seek and pursue a fresh revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ. It would not be so we can enlarge our volume on Christology. This kind of seeking requires a sacrifice and a self denial which is foreign to the western mindset and the western church. It will bring affliction as well as great glory. It will lead to repentance as it leads to a greater freedom in Christ. It will open our eyes as to this present world and open our eyes to eternity. It will establish the Lordship of Christ in our hearts and minds, and this kind of revelation will change us forever. This is what we need. This is what the Spirit calls out for us. This is not just to give us some life adjustments. He must be our life.