Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Where will you spend eternity?

Where will you spend eternity? Heaven or Hell? You'd better decide before it's too late ...

Can I just say that I hate this question?

How has Christianity become only about where we will spend eternity? Where in the Bible does it say that Jesus died so you could go to heaven; we act and talk as this was the only reason he needed to die: so we could have eternal life and go to heaven. It's such a pretty, little picture ... and it means I don't have to do anything but get people to say they want to go to heaven too.

I have a big problem with this!

Jesus did not come just to get us into heaven. I'm sorry to burst your bubble, but his purpose was and is so much bigger than that. He declares his purpose in John 10:10 and we somehow pass over it in preference of the heaven/hell/eternity purpose. "The thief comes to steal, kill, and destroy, but I HAVE COME THAT YOU MIGHT HAVE LIFE AND LIFE TO THE FULL." Abundant life other translations say. He's talking about life, here, on earth, not eternal life. He came to give us hope now! not just a future hope. He came to destroy the curse that was destroying us!

And all we give people is a decision between a heaven and hell that, by and large, many people don't believe in anymore. What attraction does this Christianity hold?

So back to this curse. Back in the garden of Eden, Adam was created in God's image, literally, and bore God's glory, His weightiness. As Dutch Sheets says creation did a double take when they saw Adam pass by: He looked like God! And he bore His glory and was given dominion, rule, authority, command to govern this earth. As he bore the image of God, creation obeyed him, obeyed God in him. As we know, the Fall happened and Adam sold out his right to govern this earth to Satan thus leading to the curse. A curse of death, slow, gradual decline physically, mentally, emotionally, relationally. In came sickness, disease, sorrow, pain, toil: all that Adam had never known when he bore the image and glory of God. No longer did creation obey him as it had.

And this curse has been wearing on us for 10,000+ years. It's a wonder our bodies still work as well as they do!

Jesus came to break this curse, that we could once again bear the image and glory of God. He came bearing the image and glory of God. That's why he could walk on water. The water recognized the image of God in Jesus, recognized His authority to govern. That's why demons fled before Him and sickness left at His command. Through His death, Jesus conquered death and overcame the curse, so that through Him, we may once again bear the image and glory of God and govern this earth as Adam was created to do.

So then why do we still hold onto the curse? Why when Jesus has declared "He whom the Son sets free is free indeed!" do we still live in bondage? Why do we hold onto sin and darkness and death and accept these things that are so unjust?! Jesus' burned with passion at the injustice caused by the curse and we cling to it! And I'm talking about Christians!

Yes, I know it feels safe; we know how the curse works; we've lived with it all our lives. It becomes a case of que sera, sera as we believe that God will do whatever He will do whether we live abundant life and bear His image or just cling to the curse and pray we make it to heaven! Don't you, can't you, see that He meant life to be so much more.

We, as Christians, are meant to be like Jesus, to follow His example, shake off the curse, and pick up the image and glory of God. I know it's scary; it's a road we haven't walked, but Jesus has.

I want to be like Jesus. I want to bear His image, that people, that creation does a double take. "Was that just Jesus?" When the snake bites me, I want (as it happened with Paul) that the poison recognizes the image of God in me and does no harm. I want demons to recognize the image of God in me and flee. I want sickness and death to loose their grip because of the glory of God in me. I want to live boldly utilizing the authority that is mine on earth as a Christian. I want to live abundant life, bearing the image and glory of God as I was ordained to from the foundation of the earth.

Monday, April 6, 2009

I'm not a Christian

"Someone recently asked me what the moment was when I became a Christian. And I told them, I never did become a Christian. I can't turn the other cheek. I can't sell all my possessions and give them away. I can't love my enemy. I am not a Christian because I can't do what Jesus asks . . . I can't do what He asks me to do, so I can't legitimately claim to be a Christian." - Bill Moyers

I wish the Church would awake and understand this as clearly as Bill Moyers does. Works are not the same as faith, nor do works make our faith. But as one author writes, you say you have faith, but I'll show you my faith by my works. Or as Rich Mullins sings "faith without works, like a song you can't sing, it's about as useless as a screen door on a submarine." Yet it seems that a marjority of American Church as we know thinks that Christianity is just about a personal, private, keep-it-to-yourself faith that has no actions to prove its existence. It's a go to church on Sunday, live like the world Monday through Saturday faith. I'm tired of that kind of lifeless faith. I'm tired of a faith that is not truly "the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."

I admit that I am no better. I claim to be a Christian. I claim to have faith even. Yet my actions do not prove that faith on a daily basis. My brother Jordan was sick for almost a week. I didn't once go over to him and pray for him. My mom's shoulder hurts so bad she can hardly move. I still haven't prayed for her. Yet I prayed for a woman's ankle the other week. A woman I did not know, because I felt God tell me to. But that was anonymous; she did not know me; I didn't feel responsible for the results (it it took a wholel hour to get up the guts to just do it!). But Jesus told us to lay our hands on the sick, no matter who they are, and have faith that God will heal them.

Do you realize how many hard things Jesus commanded us to do? I was thinking about the love passage in Corinthians the other day, where it says "love is patient, love is kind, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs . . . " No record! I keep a record, I hold a grudge! Then I'm NOT walking in love. But Jesus says "love one another as I have loved you." Or what about when he says those who haven't left father or mother, brother or sister, or wife or child are not worthy of me? How have we convinced ourselves that such statements don't apply to us somehow. That they were commands only for the disciples or the early church? Jesus didn't just give commands to the early church and then expect that we, with our smart, technological minds, would somehow just figure out which ones He meant for us to obey and which ones we didn't have to obey. God is the same God today, yesterday, and forever. His commands remain the same. His heart's desire remains the same.

Maybe we need to re-evaluate what being a Christian is. And if we are not willing to do as Jesus says, to release the grudge, to release our pride and reputation, to give up our dreams, even our life wishes, to give generously of our hard earned money in an economic recession, to not only give our money, but out time, our heart, our compassion, to actually care about people and give of who we are. If we are not willing to do thiese things maybe we need to stop calling ourselves Christians.

I think I'm ready for something more than being a Sunday Christian or just calling myself a Christian. I think I'm ready to be one. Honestly, it freaks me out. Me, pray for someone and actually see them healed! Me, drink poison and not die! Me, love with a love that does not remember wrongs. Me, not only remember the orphan and the widow, but care for the orphan and the widow. I can't even wrap my head fully around what being a Christian should look like.

No, I can . . . it should look like Jesus, unmistakably, vulnerably, humbly like Jesus.

That's what I want to be. I want to be so full of Him, that I get mistaken for Jesus. It starts with obeying Him, doing the things He commands us to do in His Word. It not some great spiritual, head in the clouds, oh my! I'm surrounded by glory, revelation: "Jesus just told me to do the things He already commanded me to do, Wow!" It's a hard, cold, gut decision to be obedient to everything He has already commanded me to do and let the results in His hands. The only feeling is a tight knot in the stomach feeling of "What have I just gotten myself into and Oh God! I can't do this without you."

Anyone want to join me?