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When In Doubt, Love

May 10, 2018
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There is no higher calling in the Christian life than the call to love. That may sound easy but it is enormously difficult within perspective. The norm for the Christian life is focused around self. God made ME in his image. Jesus died for ME on that cross. The Holy Spirit lives inside of ME to strengthen me. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens ME. And yet the Bible calls us to love.

The ten commandments begin reminding Israel of the love which Yahweh has for them that is displayed. Love on display is the only real love. Love soaked in words without action is empty, shapeless, void of being real. Yahweh rescued Israel from the horror that was living in Egypt and took them across the sea in a miraculous way. Therefore, have no others before ME. In other words, God called his covenant people to love him to the highest degree, even before self-love.

Jesus was on the scene teaching disciples making miracles happen fulfilling scripture, when he was approached by some ‘wise guys’ trying to test him. He told them the greatest commandment was to love the Lord with all their heart, mind, soul and strength. In other words, Yahweh’s command still applies. It always will.

Then Jesus further clarified what the Old Testament stated in clear words and distinctive, ritualistic language: love your neighbor the way you love yourself. Here is yet another tier to the highest calling for the Christian life. It’s rather fascinating how we tend to miss this nuance.

Jesus gives us a prime example by offering a parable in Matthew 25:31-46. Those who are hungry or thirsty or homeless or naked or sick or imprisoned got treated some type of way. Those on the right will be the ones who put love on display towards image bearers in that predicament will be invited to inherit the kingdom. And those on the left will be invited to depart to the eternal fire reserved for the devil and his angels. He caps it off with these poignant words: “Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it me.”

The way you treat people is the way you treat God. So when in doubt of how you’re treating people and if you get to pick and choose who to treat some exceptional way, love!

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Discernment and Hollywood

March 31, 2014
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Ever since “The Passion of Jesus Christ” came out, I’ve been hearing folks in the church tell others at the church to stay far away from movies like these. Because “Son of God” and “Noah” are so bad that Christians would do better to not see it nor waste their money. After all, we have plenty of other things to waste our time and money on…but nobody wants to go there. Neither shall I. But I fear that we’re missing the point.

Of course Hollywood is going to create a movie that will disappoint believers. That’s a given. So while pastors, leaders, and other believers are telling others to not go see it, and maybe even go read the biblical text instead, the question remains – how should believers dialogue with those who’ve seen the movie?

Here we have two options, though normally we chose option 3.

1 – Go watch the movie that’s gained so much hoopla so that we can dialogue with some knowledge and be ready to give an answer for the hope we have

2 – Not watch the movie and honestly listen to those who have and then ask questions in relation to the biblical account

3 – Don’t watch the movie and immediately get attitudes with those who have because obviously they’re not believers, their pastors don’t love them much, or they don’t love Jesus

Understanding that Hollywood is out to make money which requires sparking viewers attention through the movie trailers, it’s imperative that believers not forget these facts. It’s also imperative that we speak to those movie watchers with grace and seasoned speech in case the door of opportunity is opened. After all, we may get to share Jesus with those who already love Jesus and those who don’t.

 


Dare To Be Different

March 31, 2014
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I, as a Christian, sometimes dare myself to be different from the majority of Christians that I know. Now that can be taken many different ways, so please allow me to clarify.

I do go out of my way to be loving to folks who look and act really different and off-putting to church folks. Why? Because I want these people to know that I see them as someone made in God’s image even though I don’t dress how they dress or act how they act. Just because the world acts like all believers are hypocrites and judgmental doesn’t mean I need to give them any extra reason to believe such nonsense. Nor do I need to follow suit with their unreasonable expectations from believers that they’ve seen and heard time after time after time.

I love my fellow believers more than I love those in the world. That’s not even a question. But I love constantly considering something Matthew recorded Jesus saying in chapter 25 that rocks my world. Initially, I would read that text and ignore it out of ignorance thinking I was better than the lost having forgot how wretched I used to be. However, I’ve come to the realization that this text needs to be taught and re-taught to believers in the pews in efforts that they too dare to be different.

31 “When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. 32 All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, just as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.33 He will put the sheep on His right and the goats on the left. 34 Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.

35 For I was hungry
and you gave Me something to eat;
I was thirsty
and you gave Me something to drink;
I was a stranger and you took Me in;
36 I was naked and you clothed Me;
I was sick and you took care of Me;
I was in prison and you visited Me.’

37 “Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You something to drink? 38 When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or without clothes and clothe You? 39 When did we see You sick, or in prison, and visit You?’

40 “And the King will answer them, ‘I assure you: Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of Mine, you did for Me.’ (Matt 25)

May the Lord bless you and pierce your heart with these verses


Missing The Point

September 18, 2012
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I was introduced to a Christian author who had reached a level of stardom with his recent published book. There were some friends at my church who spoke highly of this guy, his book, and the overall message. I even went through an indoctrination of this particular book. I’m referring to Dr. Emerson Eggerichs’ book Love and Respect. Once introduced to the book I was under its spell. I was hooked. I bought the message and spread the message. Husbands, love your wives more so that she will respect you more. Wives, respect your husbands more so that he will love you more.

What truly lured me in was his message centered around Ephesians 5. Having watched his videos, he would read that passage and use an ample amount of examples. I felt as if Emerson was on point and was teaching me a huge revelation that I needed to heed. After all, his book has brought about conferences, book signings, and other great demands that eventually him creating a ministries website http://loveandrespect.com.

Then I had a change of heart. But what’s so funny about it is I never knew I had abandoned the logic of his popular book until recently hearing a person espouse the heart of the book. This is where my knowledge of God and the Bible stood up against the teaching of Dr. Emerson Eggerich.

Paul is crystal clear in Ephesians 5. “Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord.” “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her.”  Wives and husbands are to model Jesus Christ, our Lord. Submit to your husband as you would to your Lord. Love your wives just like Jesus loved his bride. Emerson presents us with something other than the model of Jesus, but a harmony that simply can’t be achieved on our own. Clearly having a counselor’s heart I think I know why he got off on the wrong biblical foot. Dealing with feuding couples, he researched how often men felt disrespected and women felt unloved, and presented them with a seemingly easy fix. Husband, if you’re feeling disrespect, go and love her more…that will compel her to respect you more.

Dr. Eggerich sought to comprise a helpful thing, but simply left out the main thing; Jesus. But the apostle Paul didn’t. “For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body.” This is our starting point and our refuge. Christ is the head “from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love” (4:16). If marriage is solely about husbands and wives doing more and trying harder, then that marriage never had the gospel of God about Jesus as the its foundation.

So if you have the Love and Respect book, what should you do with it? Well that is up to you. But before you go referencing that book or buying it for someone, please highlight the good and bad of the doctor’s book and point folks to Jesus in Ephesians 5.