Friday, February 14, 2014

Calling Out Christians

Calling Out Christians

Matthew 7:21 (NIV)
[ True and False Disciples ] “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.

There seems to be an epidemic in our churches today, maybe it's always been that way? I don't know, but we have a lot of people who want to call themselves "Christian" yet they aren't really committed to what the name "Christian" represents, which is "like Christ" or "Christ follower". 

There is a serious lack of commitment among Christians and churches today.  There is a serious lack of people truly surrendering ALL of themselves to God in relationship and allowing God to transform them into the likeness of Christ. 

We live in a world today where people are more committed to their kids sports than they are their faith. Where people are more consistent in keeping up with their hobbies than they are in their church attendance and involvement in worship and service in the local body of Christ.  Where people care more about their careers or bank accounts than they do their eternity.  Where people are settling for a watered-down or pathetic Christianity instead of a life-changing growing and maturing relationship with Jesus Christ.

So I'm calling you out, I'm calling myself out.  We need to pick a side, choose a team, get off the fence, and decide whether we are going to live for God or give him our total heart or not? Jesus reminds us in the gospels you can't serve 2 masters, and John in Revelation tells us what God thinks of Lukewarm Christians.  There obviously was a point in your life where you realized you were lost and a sinner and needed a Savior and forgiveness of sins, but what happened?

You cannot grow as a Christian if you don't take your faith serious and make it a top priority in your life. You also cannot expect to grow if you don't serve the Lord and are very inconsistent in your church attendance and involvement.  If you never read or study your bible or get involved in a personal devotion or study time, if you only pray when you want something, how can you expect to grow or be totally committed?

We have too many dwindling and dying churches that are not being a church but just a religious social club of mediocrity and we have too many self-proclaimed Christians who really aren't living or doing anything to be like Christ or follow Christ.  Do you see something wrong with this picture?  The bible tells us we will be known by the fruit we bear, well it's hard to bear fruit when you are not planting, sowing, toiling, or growing anything.

Salvation is free gift, but it's not a free ride.  I think too many people want the benefits of Heaven, but they think they can just coast all the way there and live on this earth for themselves, their desires, wants, and continue in their human nature, and if so you've missed the point of salvation, eternity, and what it means to be a member of the church body and to be a Christ follower.  Being saved is a gift that only God can give and only through Jesus, but it's also just the beginning of a journey. We must totally surrender our lives to God when we ask Him to save us, or we've started out wrong, and we also must be open and willing to allow God to transform us through His Holy Spirit, but also through our efforts. If we aren't willing, never pray, never read our bibles, or never show any type of commitment to His church and desiring to learn and grow in our faith, how can we be transformed?

I am calling you and me out today.  Walk the Walk.   If you're going to call yourself a Christian, than make the effort, be committed, and do the work.  If not, then we just make the church and the name Christian look like a joke when we call ourselves Christians, but we never change our behaviors, lifestyles, attitudes, or we never go to church consistently, or serve or give regularly, and we never spend time in prayer or God's Word. 

Christianity is a relationship and any relationship will not work if we don't invest it, commit to it, and make it a priority.  We should not wear the name if we aren't willing to truly commit to that relationship. Though we will never be perfect and we'll fall short, sin, and make mistakes, that is not an excuse to continue treating Christianity like an option or church like a place I'll go if I don't have anything else to do.   The church is the Body of Christ and the Christian is a body part in that body and a body will not be healthy when body parts aren't growing and working.

Calling yourself a Christian or just attending a church service occasionally will not save you, being a Christians and the Church is what you should be because you are saved.  Take it serious. Make it a priority. Surrender. Transform.  Be a Christ follower for real.


Monday, February 03, 2014

True or False?

True or False?

2 Peter 2:1-3(NIV)

2 But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them—bringing swift destruction on themselves. Many will follow their depraved conduct and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. In their greed these teachers will exploit you with fabricated stories. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping.

 Some folks or certain Christian groups love to throw around the words "False Prophet".  However, someone isn't always a "false prophet or teacher" just because you don't agree with them or they don't agree with everything you believe.  While I do believe there is a legitimate concern for false prophets and teachers out there and as Christians we must "guard our hearts" and use discernment and wisdom and know our Bibles, we also must practice some common sense and grace and be careful not to throw around labels or slandering remarks that aren't justified of backed up biblically.

There were false prophets and teachers in the Old Testament and the New Testament and there have been and always will be those around who distort the truth and misuse the truth either for their own selfish motives or because they have been taught in error, or because they sincerely don't study and search the scriptures with an open mind and Holy Spirit leading to learn the truth of God's Word, but I think our role is to know the Truth, constantly study and search scripture, and pray for God to reveal to us His truth.

Unfortunately, many people read the Bible with their minds already made up or preconceived ideas or closed minds, instead of wanting the Bible to speak to them, they instead search the scripture to try and back up what they already believe and they aren't interested in knowing real truth or being taught or learning or being guided by the Spirit and God's Word.

There have a lot of ignorant or misinformed  Christians out there who never pick up their bibles and have any regular study time, they don't attend small groups, bible studies, or sunday school classes to maybe have opportunities to learn, but instead they just are led by their own minds, flesh, or the way they were raised, and continue to live out their Christian lives in ignorance, fundamentalism, legalism, and other types of ways that keep them from growing and maturing in wisdom, knowledge, and truth of God's Word.

God's Word is given to us to study and learn.  It is a road map, a text book, a guide, a help, and inspired by God to teach us, equip us, help us, enable us, and guide us to His truth and how we should be living, serving, and growing in our relationship with Him.  It is also there to help us point out errors, sins, bad habits, and wrong in this world, in ourselves, and in others.

Yes, we should be on the guard for those who preach and teach false doctrine or don't correctly handle God's Word, but we also need to not be so quick to label someone a false teacher or judge someone a false prophet because we may not agree with them.  Sometimes we can disagree with others and it's not false teaching it may just be we are wrong, yes, we can be wrong, it may be that we've not grown enough to understand a certain teaching, or it may be a topic or issue that is a preference and not a direct command. It also may not be something pertaining to a salvation issue.

I've seen too many people quick to judge someone a heretic, false teacher, liberal, sodomite, pagan, or some other religious term for a lot of issues that weren't biblical commands, or issues of doctrinal error. They were simply errors of pride, ignorance, or arrogance.  I think God deserves better.

I think the key for all of us is to first and foremost make sure when we read and study God's Word we are open to God's leading and not our preconceived notions or ideas, but we are actually open to God's Spirit speaking to us His Truth from His Word. I also think we need to be wise is not fall for everything every preacher or Christian book author says about others. I am always leery of any Christian who is always bashing or criticizing others in order to make themselves look better.  If we are speaking and teaching God's Word in truth and love we don't have to belittle, be arrogant, or prideful.  Yes, there is such a thing is righteous judgment and there is such a thing as pointing out the errors of others, especially when it has to do with doctrinal or biblical errors, but we also must follow the example and attitude of Jesus Christ in Scripture who seemed He was only Harsh to the arrogant, know it all, prideful, selfish-motived Pharisees and religious leaders.   We need to be careful that we aren't being modern day Pharisees and religious leaders of Jesus' day.

If we know the truth, Jesus said it would set us free, but it also I think will help us discern false teaching and false teachers, but don't forget even in pointing out error or things that are false, we still represent Christ, we still need to act in love, humility, and grace.

1 John 3:18 (NIV)
Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.