Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Raising the Bar - Christianity that Touches Heaven and Changes Earth

I have a friend that used to say, "Some folks are so earthly minded, they are no heavenly good." There are also some folks that became so heavenly minded, that they were no earthly good. The point is simply that our focus can't always be on the day-to-day, and it can't be 100% religious either.

If you read the Bible, you'll find that when persecution came to Jerusalem, many Christians fled the city. In the process, Christianity spread throughout the known world. Persecution was a way of life, or so it seems.

During the first few centuries, until the time of Constantine, it was not just tough to be a Christian, but deadly. Christians were fed to the lions, burned at the stake and set afire on iron chairs; brutal and agonizing torture. We have read about Joan d'Arc and others like her. And then there are the more modern day martyrs in places like India, Turkey and many other places as well.

What did these martyrs have in common that was worth being tortured for? I don't know exactly. It's been a long time since I had a gun pointed in my direction.

The Bible predicts a falling away. Some think that it will be because we are deceived. However; the Bible does not say that this is sum total of those will fall away. It says in Matt 24 "For false Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect." The means simply that, prior to the second coming, there will be many that are looking for Jesus in the wrong place. My guess, is lack of interest in being persecuted will contribute more to that number than those who stupidly had a tarot card reading.

As an American Christian, I don't see the hardships that my of missionary friends have reported overseas. From the Philippines, to China, Vietnam and Mexico, they have seen persecution, poverty and torture. I travelled the Caribbean and parts of South America, the poverty is incredible in some places, but the church overall was well received. In Norway, this was not nearly the case.

Many of our high-profile Christians have come under scrutiny, and in the end, they may or may not stand. Large churches like Saddleback in California, New Life Church in Colorado Springs and the Catholic Diocese of Boston have made national news. Some is good, and some is not so good. Six major US ministries are under financial investigation by the government. I heard a pastor preach once, "if you look for defects, you'll find them." Bill Mahr has it down! As I survey the wondrous cross, I wonder what Jesus is up to, don't you?

We are meant to be the light of the world, how is business?

Some years ago there was a prophecy about a nameless, faceless generation. I often think about the underground churches in China. There are no mega churches there, but there seems to be a real under current of Christianity; complete with sign and wonders.

In my estimation, the church has a much bigger problem then persecution in most of western culture. Matthew 24:12 - "Because lawlessness is increased, most people's love will grow cold."

In the past 15 years I have heard a bajillion sermons on busy-ness. I think I may know more Christians on antidepressants, then there were patients using them at the detox I once worked at. With Christian divorces, teen suicides, abortions and domestic violence statistics nearly the same as the world, I'd say we have a problem Houston!

Add to that the pressure of the economy, an increasing potential for persecution, where will you be when the trumpet blows?

So, what do you think those early Christians had that was worth dying for? I would guess that it was a deep and abiding relationship with Jesus, one based on His meeting their spiritual needs, and I am sure in some cases, their physical needs. One where their lives ebbed and flowed from the presence of the Eternal God. It wasn't theory, theology, philosophy or opinions.

Is it possible that we have organized our lives in such a way that we could be the ones that fall away because our love has grown cold? What about our programs at church, do they show people process, or the true love of Jesus? How is it that we will touch heaven, and change earth?

How is it that Jesus will defeat evil, violence, witchcraft, and the New Age, all while manging earthquakes, wars and a host of other disastrous plights mankind will inflict upon themselves?

The Church empowered by the His Spirit, that is how.

2 comments:

Tevet said...

"The Church empowered by the His Spirit, that is how."
There can be no other way!
It really is pathetic what the western church considers persecution compared to what the Church has endured.
When our focus is on 10:00 Sunday am, then our victories will be just as limited as our focus.
When our focus is on the King sitting at the right hand of God, then our victories will be limitless.
I really like how you concluded this entry.
"How is it that we will touch heaven, and change earth?" "The Church empowered by the His Spirit, that is how."
It us coming together as the Body that will bring victory.

Rich Carey said...

I have sincere concerns about the average American Christians ability to stand in the face of genuine persecution. So many believe they are exempt thanks to the twisted teachings of the pre-trib rapture fanatics.

Our only hope lies in the grace of God to keep us in the difficult times ahead, and in the courage and faith of those who truly know their God to rise up and demonstrate His power in the face of the storm.

I don't want difficult times any more than the next guy, but a little persecution would be the best thing that ever happened to the American Church. Maybe we'll wake up and get real about our faith when it finally costs us something.

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