This is for the discouraged Christian. The abused, neglected, rejected and hurt. The scorned, mocked and ridiculed. The faint-hearted and fearful.
Do you want to see the power of God in your life? Then it’s time to die. I could add a ‘thus saith the Lord’ but it’s not necessary. This is the message of the Gospel, not just a word for 2014. I’m going to talk straight to you, because this is the way I heard it. Straight up truth. It’s truth that sets you free, not a sugar-coated sloppy agape. I will speak straight because I love you, not because I’m angry and have a bone to pick.
Here it goes. In times past many people have come to Christ to receive a better life. They have prayed a prayer to receive the promise of protection, provision, blessing and prosperity. I’ve dubbed this the iGospel. But coming to Christ this way leaves you snared. Trapped. Because one day life will throw you a curveball. Life will mock you and say, “where is God now? I thought He was supposed to protect you. I thought He was supposed to bless you.” And if you entertain those questions, even for a moment, you can find yourself bitter, disappointed and disillusioned. The world sees this type of Christianity as weak and selfish and they have no interest. Why? Because they have the same hurts and frustrations as that kind of Christian. They can’t see a difference between themselves and those who goes to church three times a week.
What is Christianity then?
The Gospel surely is good news. But it’s not a promise of a better life. That’s the North American twist. The Gospel is a bid to come and die so that you may truly live.
Life (the world, society, the ways of man) has taught us that we have rights. And often, when we become a Christian, those rights are solidly reinforced, giving the Church an ‘entitlement’ mentality. We claim ‘favor’ and ‘the blessings of God’ and use our faith to get the best jobs and the best parking spot nearest the door to the shopping mall. Sadly, we’ve set ourselves up. For what? Disappointment. Because when God fails to deliver what we’ve expected we begin to doubt His character.
But who said that God was a gumball machine or a busboy? Who said that if we put in a few hours at church, volunteer for a few jobs and take time to pray and read the Bible that God would pour out His favor and blessing? He’s a good Father not a means to get our needs met or a way to receive blessing. (Of course He provides and blesses as a good Father does, but His interest is in us becoming who He made us to be from the beginning. Made in His image: Love.)
God doesn’t respond to our works. He is pleased with faith only. He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. What’s the reward? Him. He is our exceedinly great reward.
If God responded to our needs He would be teaching us that we don’t need relationship with Him because He’s simply there to provide. He’d be showing us He’s just an outstretched open hand.
For example: a mother with a child in a grocery store will not favor her whining and demanding child with the sucker he wants simply because he’s her child. If she did she’d be teaching her son to be manipulative and selfish. She’d be rewarding the wrong thing.
But this is how we have perceived God in modern Christianity. Church has become a blessings and favor club. And this has resulted in people leaving local churches (and Christianity in general) in droves when they believe God hasn’t come through for them. And when bitterness fills their hearts they find fault with everything: the worship, the leadership, the color of the carpet, their spouses and friends. Next thing you know they’ve been hurt, rejected, manipulated and disappointed. They cut themselves off from people and from God. They’ve forgotten what Spirit they are of.
If we had only learned to die first, then we could truly live.
What do I mean? It’s impossible to be disappointed, hurt, rejected or manipulated if you’ve died to who you once were and are raised into a new life in Jesus. That’s when you will know who you are. Then you will begin to understand if people knew their own value they would also see your value and never treat you wrong. Forgiveness, mercy and love will come naturally. But if you live for yourself your life will be void of the power of the Gospel.
A man cannot love his wife if he is bankrupt in his heart. If he doesn’t know his own value how can he possibly see hers? You can only love your neighbor as you love yourself. And you can only love yourself when you see your value through God’s eyes.
- Why can’t we cry for others when they’ve wronged us, and not cry for ourselves because they’ve hurt us?
- Why can’t we wear out the knees of our pants glorifying God and thanking Him for His mercy on them?
- Why do we have a grid for unforgiveness?
- Why do we think it’s normal to feel hurt by people who should ‘know better?’ Shouldn’t we know better than to be hurt? If they aren’t seeing clearly should that affect how we see them? Jesus died while we were still in our sin. Stinking and soiled and dirty. But now we’ve come to Him we thank Him for His mercy then forget who we are when the first person comes along and hurts us. Or we forget who God is the moment our day goes wrong.
What’s the answer? What is the Word for 2014?
Go ahead and die.
Get rid of your grid for unforgiveness. Get rid of your ability to be hurt by others. Get rid of your ‘rights.’ The only right you have is the right to love.
Then live as love. (1 Cor. 13)
- Love doesn’t keep a record of people who hurt you.
- Love doesn’t think of itself (wanting the best seat, the best parking, the best job)
- Love doesn’t hurt for itself but hurts for others
- Love isn’t envious or prideful
Who does this sound like? I know you’ll say God, but it should also sound like Christians, because we are made in His image and are growing up into the full stature of Christ.
The world is waiting. I urge you. No, I plead with you; go ahead and die.
Note: to die means to die to yourself (your rights, your expectations, yourself). Jesus came to save us from ourselves so that we could live for others, just as He did. How do we die? Simply by being willing to. By faith. By telling God that you lay your life down. That you are finished with your old way of living; your selfishness, your self-love. Then and only then are you free to really become love and love your neighbor as yourself (nurturing, protecting).
Happy New Year!
With love, Yvette <3