Perspective: “We Can Admire And Worship Jesus Without Doing What He Did”

Introduction

Personally, I take great delight in gleaning new knowledge, insights and lessons from God’s Word and through various Biblically-sound teachers. I am thankful that God has created human beings with a rich intellectual capacity to think, reason,  problem-solve and rationalize on the varying complexities of life. Specificially, Christian Scholarship has presented us with an unprecedented level of access to innumerable academic Christian-based resources. While I do believe that God has worked powerfully through Christian Scholarship over the decades, I cannot help but recognize a subtle but very real danger that it sometimes poses to the Church today, namely incentivizing passivity. 

Do We Know How To Live Like Jesus?

It is no secret that much of those within the Church within the prosperous West has become spiritually-apathetic and lukewarm with our faith. One only needs to compare and contrast the state of the Church today to that of the Early Church in the Books of Acts to easily see the major differences between the two. Why is this? I cannot recall a point in time historically when Christians have been so well-educated and well-resourced, yet if we are honest with ourselves, it feels like we are missing the mark when it comes to our approach with Christianity. Despite our best intentions with all our scholarly teachings, our professional conferences, our debating with world renown thinkers, our academic book-writing, and our other academic pursuits, we have forgotten about what it means to truly live like Jesus. Shane Clairborne in his book, “The Irresistible Revolution”(Clairborne, 2006) puts it like this:

We can admire and worship Jesus without doing what He did. We can applaud what he preached and stood for without caring about the same things. We can adore his cross without taking up ours. I had come to see that the great tragedy in the church is not that rich Christians do not care about the poor but that rich Christians do not know the poor.

Even though this book was released back in 2006, Clairborne’s observation is still very pertinent to the way in which much of those within the Church still behave today. Paradoxically, I believe that our intellectualization and our scholarly approach towards Christianity has the potential to legitimize our passivity towards living authentically living like Jesus. 

Living Like Jesus through Knowing the Poor

Like it is possible to know about Jesus without truly knowing Jesus, it is also possible to know about the poor without actually knowing the poor. One of the central reasons for why Christians do not care for the poor like we have been called to is simply because we have not spent enough time with them to really know them. Instead, we foolishly rely on generalizations and stereotypes to inform our opinions of what the poor are like, when the truth is that they are more similar than different to us contrary to popular opinion. You can only fully see this when you decide to invest time interacting directly with the poor. No amounts of literature can serve as a replacement with actually spending time face-to-face with the poor.

After all, how can you love someone if you have not spent time with them to even know them in the first place? It would be like an absentee father returning after his children have grown up claiming to love them, despite the fact that he neglected to spend any time with them to know them, let alone genuinely love them.

The parable of the sheep and the goats describes what will happen on Judgement Day with believers and unbelievers. Within this parable, Jesus likens our service to the “…least of these brothers and sisters…” (Matthew 25:40) as our service towards Him!

Beware of “Intellectualizing” Christianity

It does not matter how much you know about God or even about the poor for that matter, if you fail to act on this knowledge. Frighteningly, it is possible to live your entire life as a “Christian” who is a perpetual student of the Bible with vast intellectual head knowledge while completely failing to live as Jesus commands. There are plenty of people like this today as there were back in Jesus’ Day(Pharisees, Sadducees, other experts in the law). It is not wrong to desire to grow in the knowledge of God and of the Christian Faith, in fact the Bible contains exhortations(see 2 Peter 1:5-6) to do this very thing. What truly matters is what will you do with this acquired knowledge? Will you let it remain stagnate in your mind while it amasses proverbial cobwebs? Or, will you let it re-shape the affections of your heart as you imperfectly but intentionally live like Jesus commands us?

Prayer

King and Lord Jesus,

Forgive us for failing to love others like you so clearly have commanded; please help us as a Church Body to live like You called us to live. Rather than staying within the comfort of our Christian Ivory Towers of Academia, I pray that Your Holy Spirit empowers and emboldens us to reach out towards those living within those hard-to-reach areas among our communities. I pray that You lead us towards action as You enable us to overcome the spirit of lukewarmness and apathy plaguing much of the Church in the West. Let your Kingdom be on earth as it is in heaven where the first are last and the last are first! In Jesus’ Powerful Name, I pray, Amen!

 

Insight: 3 Practical Ways Believers Live Immersed in The Holy Spirit(Part 2 of 2)

 

In the first part of this series, I discussed the importance of living in the fullness and the power of the Holy Spirit through abiding in Him by humbling yielding to the Lordship of Jesus. Today, I would like to explore three practical ways in which believers can live immersed in the Holy Spirit. Unquestionably, the believer’s heart must be humble, repentant and submitted to God so that His Spirit can operate undeterred by the works of the flesh. This is an over-arching focus that will be interlaced throughout each recommended way. Being humble and taking up our crosses daily is at the core of what it means to live in Christ and to clothe ourselves with the righteousness of Christ.

Supportingly, in Paul’s letter to the churches of Galatia, he instructs believers:

“But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do”(Ga 5:16–17)

Here are 3 practical ways for believers to live immersed in the Holy Spirit:

  1. Pray in the Spirit: Those who have been born again by the power of the Holy Spirit(see John 3) have been gifted with the very Spirit of Almighty God when they gave their lives to Jesus by humbly trusting and surrendering by faith through grace. Therefore, as believers we are now children of God who are new creatures with a new identity in Christ having been seated with Him in the Heavenly places(Eph 1:3-4)! We have been filled with new affections, desires, goals and with this comes a beautiful God-Ordained purpose to which we have been called. However, being adopted into God’s Family also means that we will now be in the enemy’s crosshairs. We are in a spiritual battleground and so we must be prayerfully in communion with God because prayer is the primary lifeline by which we are spiritually strengthened to defend ourselves against the attacks from the enemy. Without prayer, there is no fuel to power the Holy Spirit for the believer making us increasingly vulnerable to sin, leading to backsliding and failing to live the life of spiritual victory. It all starts with prayer. Our time spent in prayer will exponentially increase as we see our own spiritual depravity and our infinite need for God. Similarly, our humbled postured hearts will lead us to a deeper desire and sincerely-recognized need to be steadfastly in prayer!
  2. Renew Our Minds by Abiding in God’s Word with Spiritually-Opened Eyes: Even an atheist can read and study the Bible. Interestingly, there are even secular Biblical scholars who have attempted to use Bible verses to disprove the existence of God! In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus tells His followers, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will”(Mt 11:25–26). God delights in it when His creation recognize their need before Him and raise the white flag in surrender. It is only when we come to the end of ourselves that God’s Spirit can move and accomplish the surgical procedure within our hearts. Consequently, we must approach reading God’s Word with reverence and humility recognizing that it is all Truth even and especially when it contradicts our lifestyle. Otherwise, it will turn into an academic exercise resulting in people being puffed up with Bible head-knowledge rather than the heart-transforming Words of Life like God intended(like the Pharisees and experts of the law). When we read the Bible with spiritually-open eyes and an enlightened heart, everything changes! The words of God’s Holy Book will literally come alive and they can now have their intended heart-transformational impact. The veil from our hearts, even as believers, needs to continually be removed so that we unlock the Bible within the Bible. This will only happen through walking uprightly and obediently with God in unbroken fellowship. Sins needs to be confessed and repented from, or else our spiritual-vision will be blocked and we find ourselves chasing after the things of this world.
  3. Work Out What God Has Already Worked In (Faith Without Works is Dead)– God intends for His people to not merely be consumers of Christianity but rather to become partakers in helping to build His Kingdom on earth. For clarity, we are not doing this to be saved, rather, we are doing this because we are saved. Once we have been built-up and equipped spiritually, it now our commission to go out and share the good news of the Gospel with those around us in tangible ways! After all, what good is it to be in prayer and to be full of Bible knowledge if we do not actually do anything?! We must let Christ’s love stream freely in us but also through us and towards others as the Holy Spirit delights in! Our hearts should be so overjoyed with this glorious gift of salvation that we cannot help but share this gift with others. Oftentimes this may simply look like being the hands and feet of Christ through serving by meeting the physical needs of those in the community at a homeless shelter. Other times, it may extend to verbally sharing our faith with co-workers and others in our spheres of influence. James teaches us that true Christianity is “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world”(Jas 1:27). It is entirely about extending our love towards others as an overwhelmingly thankful response to the love which Christ has shown to us on the Cross when He obediently accepted death on the Cross, dying the death that you and I should have died!

Father God,

I pray that you help us to walk immersed in Your Holy Spirit! Liberate us from a life characterized by mediocre Christianity and fan the flame of Your Spirit within us so that we can be productive disciples during our short-time within this life! Help us to come together as a Church and to repent from our sinful ways starting on an individual level so that Your Holy Spirit may work as He desires! In Jesus’ Name, I pray, Amen!

Insight: What is Dividing the Church More Than Anything

Unity among those who belong to the body of believers(the Church) is radically important. When the Church is divided among itself, how can it possibly stand in the face of opposition? Jesus said it best when He tells us that “If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand”(Mark 3:25). In order to be fruitful for Kingdom-furthering purposes and effective for defending ourselves against spiritual warfare, we need to come together as fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. Yet, precisely the opposite is happening today within the Church. There is such a high degree of envy, jealousy, bitterness, backbiting, slander, and gossip among those claiming to be apart of the same Church Body. The world already has enough of this! The last thing that it needs is a Church comprised up of professing believers who cannot even co-operate among themselves. Therefore, the Church will not be able to render sustainable change within the world until those within it begin to work together instead of against one another.

Paul warns us in his letter to the Galatians of the following, “If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other”(Galatians 5:15). Being destroyed by one another is exactly what the enemy wants to happen within the Church. He couldn’t be happier when he sees church members in disagreement with trivialities over non-essential doctines and when pastors are under constant scrutiny over every move they make. Church divisiveness is a breeding ground for all kinds of evil and it is where demonic activity can thrive. Being distracted from the things that truly matter is what the enemy wants. When he succeeds, the work that God commissions His Bride(the Church) to take part in is greatly encumbered.

Perhaps one of the reasons why we don’t see persecution as strongly within the West is because the enemy does not view the Church here as much of a threat. We are too busy arguing and debating among one another about whose doctrinal views are right that we completely miss the whole point of Christianity! What an absolute tragedy! There are lost souls who are seeking for people to point them to the Truth of the Gospel but we are too busy fault-finding and gossiping about other Christians to even notice. Until the time that we swallow our pride and humble ourselves before God and among one another, true life-impacting change will not happen. How can it possibly?! The enemy and his demons are far too strong in comparison to a divided Church body. As Christians we all have our unique roles to play within the Church Body. God purposed it this way for the intention of drawing us together as perfectly demonstrated within the eternal fellowship in the Trinity. He created us as relational beings who are in need of being united within the Church. A Church Body that is united while upholding and guarding the Truth of Christ is unstoppable and it is capable of accomplishing the unimaginable!

Father God,

Please strengthen Your Church through unifying it and re-shaping it into all that You have purposed it to become as Your Son’s Bride. I pray that you humble all of us by helping us to plainly see the sin in our own hearts as opposed to pointing out the sin in other people’s lives. Lead us into repentance from all the gossip and slander we have taken part in through cleansing our prideful hearts. Most importantly, help us to show the world what it truly means to be a disciple of Jesus, as we undertake Your Kingdom-Furthering work on earth with the strength from Your Holy Spirit. In Jesus’ Name, I pray. Amen.

Perspective: “Church, Just Because I Wrestle with Depression Does Not Mean I Am Being Chastised by God for Sin”

Sadly, there are numerous misconceptions surrounding Christians who wrestle with various forms of mental illness. In my humble opinion, the Church(brothers and sisters in Christ) needs to be better educated on issues related to mental illness. This is so that we are better equipped on how to minister to the needs of believers who have some form of mental illness.


Mental illness is stigmatized enough in our current cultural landscape; the last thing believers need is more ignorance from their Church Family. The Church should be a warm and welcoming place of refuge for the broken where God’s Holy Spirit may fulfill its restorative work through spiritual healing as well as sometimes physical healing.

Church, please accept and love those who struggle with mental illness just as they are, precisely how God has done for you by and through His abundant mercy and grace when you first believed and became saved!

Church, please do not succumb to the false messages and misinformation being broadcasted within the media because all that it seeks to do is further stigmatize those who struggle with mental illness, particularly those who are Christian.

Heavenly Father,

I pray that those within the church who have been blinded by ignorance from these said cultural misconceptions may have their eyes opened to see the truth on these matters. May the God of comfort and peace be with you all!

In Jesus Christ’s Name, I pray, Amen.

The Gospel and Loneliness

Technology and Loneliness within the West

With the vast advances in social technology enabling us to seamlessly communicate and transmit information among one another, it seems logical to surmise that this degree of interconnectedness would in fact do that which it intends, namely connect us better. Specifically, connecting us better in such a way that we can develop fuller relationships in light of virtually constant, uninterrupted communication despite geographical boundaries which has encumbered us in the past. However, it dismays me to assert that this way of thinking is further from the truth than many are inclined to admit. In an article authored by Rebecca Harris’ called, The Loneliness Epidemic: We’re more Connected than Ever-But We are Feeling More Alone?, she states the following:

Changes in modern society are considered to be the cause[of loneliness]. We live in nuclear family units, often living large distances away from our extended family and friends, and our growing reliance on social technology rather than face to face interaction is thought to be making us feel more isolated” 

Continue reading

God’s Common Grace

Despite the fact that we live in a very fractured world infected with sins of all forms, God’s beautiful grace not only lavishes the lives of believers but it is extended towards non-believers as well. I will refer to this form of grace as God’s Common Grace and, as will be explored below, it exemplifies God’s sovereignty and His all-the-time goodness which is, simply put, impossible to contain, even in a world hostile to God.

In Acts 14:17, Paul and Barnabas frustratingly tell the people in Lystra and Derbe:

“Yet He has not left himself without testimony: He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; He provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy

Continue reading

3 Confessions by Depressed Christians You Need To Know

This is an excellent post containing a very important message, particularly in light of the numerous misconceptions surrounding this vital topic.
In my humble opinion, the Church needs to be better educated on issues related to mental illness. This is so that we are better equipped on how to minister to the needs of believers who have some form of mental illness.
Mental illness is stigmatized enough in our current cultural landscape; the last thing believers need is more ignorance from their Church Family.

Value of Money in The Christian’s Life

Like with mostly anything, when we as Christians view something as an ultimate, we risk committing the sin of idolatry. As Christians we must ensure that we do not allow anything to obstruct our relationship with God. Most people believe that money in and of itself is evil, but rather it is “…the love of money” which is the real root of all kinds of evil (1 Timothy 6:10). The Lord knows that we require money to live. It is when we relentlessly pursue and desire the accumulation of more and more money, regardless of the costs involved, that we run into problems. This is why it is critically important that we keep Christ above everything else in our lives. Continue reading

Doubt Your Doubts through Faith

Feed your FaithUnequivocally, those with faith in God must contend with doubt from time to time (Mark 9:24). What is most important is how we respond to doubts particularly when they target our salvation. Casting doubts into the believer’s mind is easily one of Satan’s most effective weapons as evidenced in Genesis 3 when Satan introduced Eve’s mind to doubt. Think about it for a minute…if Satan is able to cause us to doubt our salvation, or to create a lack of confidence in His Word, then his spiritual attacks are able to gain traction, which cause us to become more vulnerable to temptations.
Continue reading