What is this calling that the true Christian gives their lives to? After we have pledged our lives and our allegiance to Jesus, what then? Do we come to Christ in order to receive grace and mercy? Or do we come to Christ because we have already received grace and mercy? Examine these questions in your heart of hearts. I beg you to meditate on and think about this. If the Bible speaks truth, particularly Romans chapter 3, then it is apparent that we cannot come to Christ to receive grace and mercy, because in our basic human nature, we don’t want it. By nature, we are haters of God, every one of us. God must first ignite our hearts with a passion for Him.
We’re called to reckless abandonment.
In college, in order to graduate it was required that I take Algebra. I have no love for algebra. It would be safe to say that I strongly dislike anything math related. But I went to Algebra class and never skipped out. I was faithful to attend algebra class. Why? Not because I was so passionate about the subject, but because I wanted something from the class, which was a diploma. Once I got my diploma, I have never looked back at algebra nor have I missed it.
Sadly there are many people who view church like I viewed algebra. They really have no interest in it and no true love for Jesus. They come because in some way, they think their attendance equates a passing grade, equating a diploma that will grant them eternal life and escape from Hell. But unlike college, where even the haters of algebra like myself can squeeze by, those that have no love for Christ will be judged by their hearts, not their external actions.
If we do not delight in Jesus now, then we wont delight in Him in eternity.
“Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the lamb of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.” Psalm 1:1-2.
Only those who delight and are passionate for Jesus on this earth will be counted as righteous. Passion will not all the sudden be birthed within us upon entering the Heavenly realm.
We must ask ourselves, “Do I truly love Jesus?” Because its more than simple lip service. Love is passion. I love my wife and my children. Every decision I make, ultimately is made with them in mind. I want the best for my family. I want them to be safe and cared for. I would gladly do without to keep them safe. Thats passion. Thats love. Love is sacrifice.
When it comes to Jesus, is he priority? Not in your profession or in your church attendance, but in every aspect of your life?
“No matter if you eat, or drink, or whatever you do, do all things for the glory of God.” 1 Corinthians 10:31.
Don’t just read verses like this, put yourself in the shoes of Paul. Feel the passion behind his plea. The term Christian was never to be just a mental nod or a title we check in a voting booth. It is literally to define everything we do in life. Every decision we make should be gleaned through glorifying God. Even down to praising His name for a simple glass of water we drink down.
This life we live in the flesh is so very short in the span of eternity. Today I’m 38 years old. Tomorrow I’ll be 78. It will seemingly go that quick. Here is the question we must concern ourselves with this side of Heaven;
“Am I living life for myself, or in light of eternity?”
Is Jesus more to you than just a Sunday morning God? Have you ever found yourself awake long into the early morning hours, searching the scriptures because you must know Him? This was the traits such men as King David possessed, when he compared himself to a dehydrated animal, that only God could quench his thirst. Do you look at the material possessions you have in your life and consider yourself blessed? Or do you, as the apostle Paul, look upon the trinkets and toys of this world and count them all as garbage in comparison to knowing Christ? Would you rather suffer persecution if it meant Jesus receiving glory rather than have your best life now living in comfort?
Talk such as this is considered mad by the world, and even by the majority of professing Christians. But again, I submit to you that these reckless passions were the result of the men of scripture who walked with Christ the most closely. We read about this passion throughout scripture. And then compare it to modern-day Christianity. Where Jesus is praised for who He is, but we would rather ignore the parts of scripture that command us to go and make disciples. We read about Jesus calling us to go to the ends of the earth for His glory and leave the comforts the world behind, but we easily pass it off as being someone elses job.
I am becoming more and more burdened for our world and for myself. I am not comforted by the scripture as much as I am convicted. And lately, the more I read the Bible, the more I am convicted. That our culture of professing believers looks nothing like the church of scripture. Our passions are misplaced, and we make Gods of comfort. I feel my flesh draw to the materialism of our world as a child would be drawn to the neon glow of a hot stove, and I hate it. Do we notice how easily our affections are drawn away from Him, where we like Paul would say,
“For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.” Romans 7:15.
What is this thing called Christianity? If we try to obey Christ in order to be saved, we will fail miserably. The truth is that we cannot make anyone obey Jesus by simply telling them, although we are to tell all creation. Obedience comes from knowing Him. Obedience comes from loving Him. Obedience comes from having a changed heart that only Christ can do in a person.
Before I met my wife, I couldn’t stand running. It just wasnt fun to me. In fact, you would be hard pressed to ever find me on a track running circles for the joy of it. My wife Lacy is a runner and loves the sport. And thirteen years ago, I fell passionately in love with my wife. And as a result, I grew to love running. Because I was doing what she loved. I was a participant in what brought her joy. And in running, I had the chance to be near to one I loved so much. I grew to love what I once hated because of passion. True passion changes everything.
In the same way, when you truly fall in love with Jesus, your desires change. Because to be near Him, to please Him, to draw closer in relationship to Him makes everything else pale in comparison. Christ calls us to mission so that we will know more deeply this God who left the comforts of Heaven as a missionary to come give Himself for we who are so unworthy.
I write this not in condemnation of anyone. I write this from an overflow of my own heart, and the area God is currently dealing with me right now. If anyone stands condemned or guilty of these charges and must ask these questions of himself, it is I. But is it not true of all of us? Standing before the Lord, there are many things we will regret. But no one will ever say they regretted praying more, serving more, and seeking Christ more. The book of Revelation says that there will be tears wiped away in Heaven. I believe many of those tears will be shed when we realize how beautiful Jesus is in light of how sinful we are. Tears of regret that we didn’t pray and serve Him more diligently while we drew breath.
So great is our salvation. Such a high price our savior paid for us. So in the words of Francis Schaeffer, I ask the question, “How then shall we live?” In light of shed blood of Jesus Christ, how then shall we live?
With such a passion and zeal for Him, that to the outside world, our dedication would seem strange.
My fear is that we have been lulled to sleep by the enemy. My fear is that we have become so mesmerized by the things of this world that we are numb to what it truly means to follow Jesus. Much of current Christian culture has boiled Christianity down to a neat little formula. Reciting a prayer, being baptized, and then just trying to live your life as a good person. But when we realize that Jesus never asked anyone to pray Him into their hearts, and that the scriptures attest that no one in their human flesh can be good in and of themselves, we are left with a problem. If a prayer doesn’t save us, and merely being a moral person doesn’t make us Christian, then what are the marks of a true believer?
“You will recognize them by their fruits.” Matthew 7:16.
Apples spring forth from an apple tree. They cannot help but produce apples, because that is what the tree is. The apple tree would not be able to produce thorns due to the nature of its make up. An apple tree cannot help but produce apples. Now apply this simple teaching to the marks of a true believer. A true Christian does good works. But it goes far beyond works. The true believer is burdened for others to know Christ. They view the world through an eternal lens. Everything is filtered through living on mission for Christ, and glorifying their God is more important than the breath they breath.
And like the apple tree, the Christian cannot change their nature. They live for Jesus because they cannot help but live any other way due to what they are. They cannot rid themselves of this burden for the lost because they are just a branch that is connected to the true vine, which is Christ. And we, the branches, produce the fruit of the vine.
“I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:5.
This is what Jesus was telling the disciples. You will know a true believer by the fruit they bear! You will know them by the overflow of their regenerated nature in Christ! We have so watered down the scriptures in our culture that we have forgotten that salvation is not a work or decision of man, but a supernatural work of God! Jesus teaching on knowing a believer by their fruits, and His teaching in John regarding the vine and the branches are intertwined! They go together. The nature of the true Christian is different. And it goes far beyond morality. They begin to take on the very nature of Christ Himself. And they become drawn to missional living and sacrifice like a moth to a flame. Because it is their new nature.
If you were a tree, and someone were to examine your fruits, would they be bent more towards your own comforts and worldly desires? Or is your life marked by a reckless abandonment of the comforts and things of this world? If we truly believe the Gospel, then we do not have time to waste our lives on ourselves.
The apostle Paul, John the Baptist, the disciples, the prophets, even the evil tax collector Zacchaeus, who upon meeting Christ practically began giving the majority of his money to the poor….all of these men were radically changed after an encounter with Christ. Their life was marked by this radical level of sacrifice. Where is this reckless abandonment in our modern day church?
This is the consistent pattern that we see in those who follow Christ throughout scripture. How can we say today that this half-hearted, self focused, view of Christianity that is so prevalent today is even the same thing as what we see in scripture? You see we read stories about these great men of faith, but I’m afraid we have neglected to closely examine their lives and actually realize how very different they were.
This is just one pastors burden. And I pray that this burden will grow stronger. As sinful and as flawed as I am, I feel as though God is opening my eyes to a greater reality of what it is to know Christ. And the more I seek Him, the more I see that knowing Him surpasses all worldly comforts. Knowing Jesus is not simple a moral nod. To know Jesus in truth is to have every aspect of your life effected. This is how the disciples turned the ancient world upside down. They didn’t go through the motions of church as an organization. They lived it, even if it cost them everything. Recklessly abandoning the desires of their flesh, because the desire of their spirit in Christ was greater than the flesh. Genuine revival will not spring forth from an event. Genuine revival will only happen when we as the people of God begin to see Him as more precious than anything.