Friday, January 23, 2015

Fearless




So, as I’m drilling down to uncover why so many of those who profess to know Christ are comfortable with killing, and torture, and war, I’ve discovered something: It turns out that what we really seem to lack is an abiding connection to the love of Christ in our daily, walking around lives.

At least, I cannot personally fathom how anyone who was abiding in Christ – who is Agape love incarnate – could look at another person made in the image of God and condone their torture, or approve of their death, or justify their suffering – even if it was in the best interest of our nation.

Not only are we disconnected from the love of Christ ourselves – and lacking in love for one another – we are also more often ruled by our fears than by our confidence in our Lord Jesus.

The truth is, our world is inundated with a continual, abiding fear. We are immersed in fear. We are surrounded by it. It is nearly inescapable in our culture today.

Don’t believe me? Just watch the evening news and count how often the word “fear” is used. Listen for how many times the news anchors refer to people who are afraid, or who are horrified, or terrified, etc. and you’ll see what I’m talking about.

Then pay attention to the TV shows you watch. Notice how often fear is used to motivate everyone’s actions. Or how those real-life mystery shows train you to suspect your spouse or to mistrust your neighbors.

It’s on the Internet too. Just the other day I posted this on social media:

“Fear says: Buy bigger guns, locks and dogs to protect yourself. Love says: Welcome friend. What's mine is yours.”

The reaction I received to that was this: “Easy enough to say until you’re watching some thug rape your wife or daughter.”

Wow. Instant, automatic fear response. (And, yes, this was from a Christian).

Our choice is simple: We either decide to remain in a place of fear – and then we make decisions that flow from that fear – OR we decide to live in the love of Christ and then we make decisions that flow from Him and His love.

Let’s not kid ourselves here, we cannot do both.

Either we put our hope in Christ and we walk in His love, or we walk in fear and we live our lives as people who must manage those fears.

Let’s consider this for a moment: Could someone who honestly put their hope in Christ ever live in continual fear? Of course not! And someone who is led by their fears can’t – at the same time – be completely trusting the Lord and placing their hope in Him. The two are mutually exclusive.

As I’ve said once before, Jesus came and introduced us to something called “The Good News (or Gospel) of the Kingdom” and it is about complete submission and daily reliance upon Christ.

We either follow the Way of the World (which involves fear, and violence, and torture, and power, etc.), or we follow the Way of Christ (which involves trust, and love, and humility and service to others, etc.).

We cannot follow the Way of the World and the Way of Christ at the same time. It’s like saying that you’re going to get in your car and drive East and West at the same time. It can’t be done.

Either go one way or the other, but you can’t do both because one path will take you in the opposite direction from the other one.

Why am I writing about fear? Because fear is the flip side of the coin from love. We’re told that “Perfect love casts out all fear.” (1 Jn. 4:18) And I believe that if we cling to our fears we’ll also experience less love and suffer from the effects of that deficiency.

Anyone who doubts this can simply look around you. Our world is not following the Way of Christ. It is saturated with fear. It is ruled by fear. It is all about power and control and exploitation and selfishness. 

Jesus came and died to demonstrate a better way. That’s what we call the Good News. 

It means we can abandon those ways of being and start living a different way – a Heavenly way. It means we can actually be transformed from within by His incredible love and His amazing Holy Spirit into people who are not ruled by fear any longer.

Because we put our continual hope in Jesus we can love without fearing pain. We can trust without fearing violence. We can give without fearing poverty. We can share without fearing guilt.

As followers of Jesus, we have to say no to fear and yes to love. We have to repent and turn away from the way of the world. We have to put our hearts into His capable hands and begin to trust Him with everything. We have to start learning how to walk in love and to leave fear behind us for good.

Abiding in Christ means abandoning fear. The only thing that casts out all fear is His perfect love. When we are filled with his love there is no more room for fear. When His love fills us, we can’t help but love everyone around us – even our enemies.


“I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” (Eph. 3:16-19)


Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Shameless


 
 
I’ve noticed something lately that has been disturbing me. Not that the behavior itself is anything new – it’s certainly not – but that I am now beginning to notice it and react in a different way.

Whenever someone says or does something that the other person finds objectionable, there is an automatic reply of “Shame on you!”

I used to write this off as simply one way to respond to someone you disagree with. But lately I’ve started to realize that it’s quite inappropriate. Especially from one Christian to another.

Here’s why.

Jesus came to remove our shame. On the cross he took all of our shame upon us. He suffered, bled and died to wash away all of our shame. When it was all done, he threw back his head and shouted, “It is finished!”

Now, when another Christian expresses an opinion you disagree with, is it appropriate to smear that shame back on them once again?

Absolutely not.

We are free from shame. We should not place shame back on one another, nor should we allow another person to place shame back on our shoulders now that Christ has washed us clean.

No shame on me. No shame on you. No shame on anyone.

There is no shame.

Just look at the way Jesus interacted with the people in his day who were considered shameful and you’ll see that shame is not something Jesus ever recognizes.
 
He sees no shame in the Samaritan woman at the well, even though she had many husbands.
 
He sees no shame in the face of the woman with the issue of blood who was too afraid to even approach him and ask for healing.
 
He sees no shame in the Roman centurion who didn’t consider himself worthy to come to Jesus in person when his servant was sick.
 
Jesus treats zealots, and prostitutes, and drunkards, and lepers, and everyone else whom that society saw as shameful with complete dignity and respect and love.

“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.” (Romans 8:1-2)

Disagree if you want. But do not attempt to put shame on one another. Jesus washed that off long ago and we stand now as those who have been made whole, and clean, and totally free.

No shame.

-kg

 

 

Monday, January 12, 2015

Video Round Table: Who Decides in Organic Church?


Neil Cole, Jon Zens, Richard Jacobson, Dan Herford and Keith Giles share their thoughts about how decisions are made in Organic Church community.

This conversation rounds out the "blogalogue" series of posts on this same topic.

Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

[Subversive Radio Podcast] Jesus In Samaria




The people in the little Samaritan town didn't ask for a sign or a miracle, but simply received Jesus with open hearts. How could that be? Join us as we look at this extraordinary event in the life and ministry of Jesus and see what it can teach us about our own walk with Him.


Sunday, January 04, 2015

[Subversive Podcast] Constantine: Violence and Hierarchy

Some Christians will only admit that Constantine was either the one who brought the Church into a Pro-Violence Nationalism, or a Clergy-Laity Divide, but not both.

In this podcast we'll look at how Constantine's influence was directly responsible for leading the Church away from two of Jesus' main teachings:
"You are all brothers" and "Love your enemies."

See also:
Biblical Scholarship In Support Of Non-Hierarchy

Interview: Scott Bartchy (Part 2)

The Disciples on Leadership and Hierarchy



Saturday, January 03, 2015

Get Busy Living



Welcome to the New Year!

As I was reflecting on this new year earlier this morning, I realized something a little bit frightening: The beginning of a new year signifies that we have less time than we started with to start living the life we wanted to live.

In other words, with another year behind us, we have less time ahead of us to allow Jesus to live and breathe in us the way He deserves to - and the way we want Him to.

I couldn't help but remember these words: "If you stopped learning today you wouldn't live long enough to put into practice all that you already know."

And it's true. The time for learning new information about Jesus is - for most of us - long over. And the time for putting into practice what we already know that Jesus commanded us to do is now at hand.

But most of us would rather continue to be Biblicists; reading and learning and studying and then re-learning and re-studying, and taking notes until Jesus comes back.

But Jesus isn't coming back for people who know stuff about Him. It's why He said: "Why do you call me 'Lord, lord' and do not do what I command?" [Luke 6:46]

It's why He also said: "Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them." [John 13:17]

Because what Jesus wants us to understand is that having the information about the Gospel is worthless if you do not obey the Gospel.

In other words, it's not how much information about Jesus we have. It's what we do with that information once we have it.

The great Christian philosopher, Soren Kierkegaard put it this way:

"The Bible is very easy to understand. But we Christians are a bunch of scheming swindlers. We pretend to be unable to understand it because we know very well that the minute we understand, we are obliged to act accordingly."

He's right, you know. Just the other day I read a comment from someone who claimed to be a Christian, yet attempted to suggest that the words of Jesus were just too difficult for anyone to understand easily. This person wasn't saying that we should all keep on studying and learning so we could eventually understand Jesus. Not at all. He was saying this to justify NOT knowing what Jesus meant and therefore seeking to escape those commands that seemed too hard for him.

Ultimately, it's not about what you or I do, anyway. The point is not to "live a life for Jesus". That's honestly impossible. 

What Jesus wants us to do is to stop trying to live for Him and start allowing Him to live in us.

Until Jesus is alive in you - living and breathing within - you are not alive anyway. Remember: "Apart from me you can do nothing" [John 15:5]

So, as we stand at the beginning of a brand new year, let's not ask ourselves "What can I do for God?" but let's ask, "What could God do with someone who was totally and completely surrendered to Him?"

That's the Gospel of the Kingdom. One life, totally surrendered to His rule and reign.

Can we take that step? Can we begin, right now, to let Jesus have His way with us? Can we lay down our lives and let Him live in us by His Spirit?

Honestly, that's what Jesus came and died for - all of you! Not just a little piece of you, but every single part - even (and even especially) that part of yourself that you are most afraid of surrendering to Him.

He is trustworthy. He won't mess up your life. Instead, He will give you real, abundant life, starting the moment you let go of this dead, empty shell we call "life".

"For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” [Matt. 16:25-26]

Make the most of the days you have left. Let go of your life and surrender it fully to Jesus. There's no better time than now to start.

-kg



Friday, January 02, 2015

[Subversive Radio Podcast] The Didache: Ch. 14-16

We finish up the Didache study in this podcast with a look at "The Lord's Day", "The Appointing of Overseers and Servants", and instructions about "Watching over your life".