stevengworld

Light Vs. Love

April 27, 2016
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I must admit that what I’m about to say is going to ruffle many Christian feathers and could soothe many non-Christian feathers. For that I won’t apologize, but I do think it’s a necessary evil (excuse the pun) in this case. Let me explain (sorry Kev Hart, I had to borrow this phrase).

Often when a law is passed or a big event happens,┬áchurch folk tend to pendulum swing to the desperate cry to be “the light of the world” and “the salt of the earth.” Some may read that and ask, so what’s the problem? Well as I see it, Jesus in Matthew 5 doesn’t command church folk to be this, he tells them that they are. This is better known as an indicative. Since Jesus points to what we are, swinging over to that posture in my estimation seems to be counter to what Jesus said. This swing is an emotional one, not a biblical one.

In those cases, I see it as church folks feeling like they must make a decision once-for-all where they stand, and that decision is if they’ll stand on the side of being a light set on the hill for all the wicked and wayward to see or if they’ll stand on the side of loving the wicked and wayward. It’s definitely not a tough decision to make when the bigger picture has been lost as one narrows in on the big headline in our society. I fear there’s grave danger (is there any other kind? Sorry Nicholson) in church folk who operate this way. Let me explain.

If you are a believer, Jesus calls you light and salt. Since you are light and salt, Jesus commands you to go make disciples amongst your society with the same powerful, life-altering word that changed you. That’s the gospel. So you were once just like the wicked and wayward, but the gospel changed you. Since it could change you, then we ought to assume that it has the power to change others. “But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”

Love is the single and biggest command church folk are called to do. Why? Because we tend to not love anybody but ourselves. “Whoever forces you to go one mile, go with him two.” That takes a loving, Spirit-empowered ability. That’s how the world will know that church folk are believers…that we love another.

As things continue to change in our society, and our cultural norms get threatened, and our comfort zones get smaller, it’s best to remember we are called to love, not run to the other side where we stand away from those not in our circles and stop loving them. I fear that the good news of the gospel and the power of the gospel gets lost when we encounter these things. Don’t run from folks who are gay or transgendered. Run to them with love and the good news. Don’t run from folks who are Trump supporters. Run to them with love and an open ear to listen to their supportive reasoning.

Let the gospel and the command to love reign in our minds as we stop and think of what we shall do. Love the other church folk who seem stubborn and stuck in their ways. Listen to folks who are welcoming with open arms others into your bathroom. Don’t spread fear; spread the gospel. Don’t overreact with gossip; react with the words of Jesus.


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Newmanity and Decaying

April 18, 2016
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Those whom have trusted Jesus Christ as their only remedy to their sins by faith and repentance are new creations. And yet, they are decaying.

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal ( 2 Cor 4:16-18)

These few verses are sobering to think upon and even more troubling as we admittedly have allowed the influence of this age to impress upon us its importance on the exterior. Now, wanting to look good on the outside is not wrong. Hygiene and exercise are both good and right (read necessary) things for the body. Christians after all are called to be good stewards of their bodies, though it does seem like the non-believers do a much better job at that.

Proper eating along with skin creams are also not bad. Walking away with crow’s feet and bags under your eyes isn’t cool. There is nothing godly about looking homely. May I remind us that even Jesus told his disciples to be mindful of how they look to the outside world as they are fasting, because it’s best to not draw unnecessary attention to one’s self in order to brag.

Yet, it appears that our society and even the church has forgotten the depths of Adam’s sin. Just imagine this – the whole earth groans and longs for its renewal in the day of the Lord. So, creation is decaying and desperately waiting for what’s wrong to be made right. While us humans tend to think slim physique, muscular body, 10 cups of water drinking, vegan dieting, crossfit living folks have absolutely nothing to worry about. Because after all, they’re taking care of their body. As long as one can avoid second hand smoke, drink next to no alcohol, and get enough rest, they’ve got nothing to worry about.

Well Paul seems to disagree in these verses. Stated so matter-of-factly, Paul tells the Corinthian Christians that on the exterior they’re decaying while simultaneously on the interior they’re growing healthily. It’s a conundrum if you ask me. So healthy bodies that run 3 to 4 times a week are decaying at alarming rates that the man who visits McDonald’s 3 to 4 times a week is decaying? According to scripture, yes. But like Paul said at the beginning of this passage, do not lose heart. What’s ahead on the horizon that we can’t see is far better than what all we can see here and now. Our bodies will hurt us at various ages for various reasons, and the healthiest┬ámay die quicker than the overweight guy who refuses to do cardio at the gym. And yet, the believer has hope in the eternal.

Our present bodily afflictions and momentary troubles are just that – momentary. God uses them to achieve for us an eternal glory. Sometimes, they bring us to the presence of the King of kings. And honestly, there ain’t nothing better than that. Nobody in paradise with Jesus is talking about the Donald, racism, safety of neighborhoods, gun laws, gender issues, or who’s going to win the NBA championship. Yet here we are, enduring in the strength of the Spirit, encountering momentary troubles in our bodies.

But reader, believer or not, don’t lose heart. And don’t lose sight of the eternity that awaits you. Cling to Christ through faith again and again. Wait for the day of renewal. Cherish being a steward today. Press on towards eternity. Fix your eyes on what is unseen, not what can be seen. You are newmanity; revel in it.


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Newmanity and Trembling

April 9, 2016
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The apostle Paul exhorted the Christians in Philippi to work out their salvation with fear and trembling. He commanded them to figure this out. That’s what an exhortation means. Take your objective justification and figure it out subjectively. Sounds easy right?

So, are you believers finding yourself more and more comfortable on a day to day basis with how you’re living? I dare say that if your daily Christian walk is one of ease and comfort for the most part, you are guilty of disobeying Paul’s command. As well as Jesus’s command – take up your cross daily and follow me.

To follow Jesus in your life on a day to day basis means you on day to day basis seek to live and act and speak how Jesus would. Now if you find this to be easy, then you must not know who Jesus was. Jesus did all kinds of things that went against the grain. His life on a daily basis wasn’t easy. Far too often he held his tongue, spoke the truth in tough situations, and cared for folks who couldn’t care for him.

Far too often folks will respond that they are completely unaware of what it looks like to live like Jesus. To that I say, love God with all of you and love every person the exact same way you love yourself. Oh, and do that every single day. Does that bring fear and trembling to your minds? Does it make you feel completely incapable? If so, then good.

His yoke is easy and his burden is light, and his commands aren’t optional. So workout your salvation and take up your cross daily. Remind yourself that you are made new. That the Spirit of God lives within you. You have power beyond all imagination that can enable you to do beyond all you could ask or think.

Trust Jesus and obey him. He made you new for a reason.