Friday, August 03, 2012

DON'T LET THE WORLD DEFINE WHAT IS A CHRISTIAN

God would not have us to be what the world desires us to be - weak, timid, cowardly. Paul in 1 Corinthians 1 contrast the wise and foolish things, the strong and the weak things. The world is worldly, faithless, and does not trust in God and hence it must esteem worldly things: wealth, looks, might, intelligence. The world views Christians as the polar opposite to these things, as losers, as puny, as stupid, and as the most duped people on earth. Who would want to be that?!

Christians, don't let the world, that doesn't know up from down, define what God values. Christians are fools to the world, but it is the wisdom of God to believe in the resurrected Jesus. Christians are weak to the world, but Christians are not trembling or timid because God has empowered them to stand firm and to fight the good fight.

My point here is that I think some Christians let the world define what weak or humble or meek means - the opposite of whatever the world values. A worldly person kills and takes whatever it likes. The world therefore says that a Christian would not take a life or pursue things in this life. The opposite of what the world values is NOT what God is calling us to be.

God has not given to us a spirit of timidity, says Paul. But God has given to us a spirit of power, love, and discipline, 2 Tim 1:7. These are strengths. God has asked us to love our enemies and do good to them, but this doesn't mean we cast our pearls before the swine. Know the swine, take back your blessing on his home, shake the dust off of your feet, and then go preach in the next city, Lk 10:3ff. The strong person in God's eyes can look the worldly man in the eye and say, "You are lost without Jesus." The strong man can say, "We must obey God rather than men." The strong man in God's eyes can clear the temple and correct the false teacher who is erring.

Some Christians I have encountered are just timid. And they wear the timidity as a badge, but it's really an excuse when they are afraid to confront the godless. They are really only timid as the world would have them to be. The world says this is what Christians are to be. But it's not what Christians of the Bible were. They were bold. They were not silent. They were persuasive. They were brave in the face of danger. They opposed the world and turned it upside for Christ.

If we let the world define what a "meek Christian" is, then we will never fulfill the mission of God. "11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places." Eph 6:11,12. That warfare which Paul is describing is fought every day in the streets. it is fought like a good soldier fights. Christians fight the good fight of faith.
"3 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, 4 for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. 5 We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ, 6 and we are ready to punish all disobedience, whenever your obedience is complete." 2 Cor. 10.
My thesis here is that the weak, meek, humble Christian which the world would have us to be is not what God intends for us to be. The world would love to define the meek Christian as so weak that he may at any time be beaten and be convinced to give up his faith. This Christian is acceptable to the world. He's a doormat. He doesn't challenge or confront. He's a pushover, milquetoast, pansy and the world allows him to exist. But this is not what God wishes.

No, it's war and it must be fought between good and evil. The kingdom of Christ will advance not by timid, cowering Christians who have no line at which they say, "No more!" The world does not understand or accept the meek and humble Christian as God would have him. The world rejected the meek and lowly Jesus, who was a source of constant consternation for it. Jesus didn't accomplish the will of God by letting the world define what meek meant. The Apostle Paul would never have established a Church if he were weak according to the world's standard. God has sent His disciples to perform His work in a hostile and dark world. This takes courageous and convicted people. The "meek and gentle" as the world would define them would never leave Jerusalem.

When I am weak, then I am strong. The Apostle Paul described his hardships.
"23 Are they servants of Christ?—I speak as if insane—I more so; in far more labors, in far more imprisonments, beaten times without number, often in danger of death. 24 Five times I received from the Jews thirty-nine lashes. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, a night and a day I have spent in the deep. 26 I have been on frequent journeys, in dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my countrymen, dangers from the Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers on the sea, dangers among false brethren; 27 I have been in labor and hardship, through many sleepless nights, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. 28 Apart from such external things, there is the daily pressure on me of concern for all the churches. 29 Who is weak without my being weak? Who is led into sin without my intense concern?" 2 Cor. 11.
The world hates this Christian who has nerves of steel. The world hates this Christian who shines the light of truth on its evil deeds. The world hates and will not tolerate this Christian who says its religions are idols and that it must repent and be baptized in the name of Christ.
"40 And with many other words he solemnly testified and kept on exhorting them, saying, “Be saved from this perverse generation!” 41 So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and that day there were added about three thousand souls." Acts 2:40,41.
Have you heard the preaching of Peter. He was brave and bold to teach the grace of God that comes through faith. Have you repented and been baptized for the remission of your sins, Acts 2:38? About 3,000 souls were baptized in one day who heard and responded to His message.

We know what the world is and why it is lost. But do we let the world define what we are supposed to be? Are we weak to the world so that we allow it to tell us what we may and may not do? If so, get ready to live in a box and never be heard from again. But that's not what God wishes for us to be. "Be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might"! Say, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." Say with Paul, "For when I am weak, then I am strong" because you know that God is the power behind all you do. Amen.

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