Let Christ’s Love Cast Out Fear!(Part 1 of 3)

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Fear is an extremely power thing. If fear is not handled properly, it is capable of destroying a person simply because of its crippling effects. There are those within this world today who live in maximal fear–sometimes for understandable reasons, other times because they have allowed fear to control their lives entirely.

What I want to progress towards discussing within this series are the terrifying ramifications of when believers succumb to fear-based religion. As an introduction, today’s focuses will be on (1) providing historical background of religion within Christendom and on (2) highlighting one of the threats some “christian” churches pose towards spiritual seekers and professing believers alike. 

Strikingly, religion has almost always been wielded in such a way to instill fear into the masses through both oppressive and manipulative means so that the people can be controlled. Yes, even “Christian” religious denominations have largely been premised in fear, which can be quite certainly be linked to the establishment of the Roman Catholic Church(RCC). In fact, prominent author and apologist, Ravi Zachaaris postulates that, “Christianity is not the same as who Christ is“.

I will now digress a little here so that I can provide some reasoning for why I believe this is happening within Christianity. Increasingly what we have today even among several Protestant denominations is the integration of some practices and traditions from Catholic teaching. Notably, within Protestantism there is an expanding-divide between the laity and the clergy in which there is a greater perceived value towards the ministry work among the clergy(church leaders) within the church compared to that which God accomplishes through the laity(church members). The fact is that we are all a royal priesthood of believers under the New Covenant(1 Peter 2:9) in Christ. Therefore, no believer is seen as more or less significant before God simply because they serve in a leadership capacity at a church as opposed to being used in some other capacity in another profession. The hierarchy within the RCC has certainly been influencing and has even started to pervade some Protestant denominations. The consequence beginning to arise from this is the proliferation of Bible illiteracy because church-goers place too much weight on the pastor at the pulpit. Therefore, the spin-off from this is that there is the presumption that this pastor has authority over God’s Word. Sadly, many church adherents then follow whatever is said trusting that the pastor is always 100% accurate, frequently without taking part in their own Bible Study to test what is said against God’s Word. For those of you who know your history of the RCC, I’m sure that this sounds very familiar. In spite of this example, as well as several others unmentioned, one can quite accurately speculate that the trajectory to which we are going within Protestantism is frighteningly similar to the way things were before the Protestant Reformation.  

Returning to Dr. Zachaaris’ point from earlier, I believe that his point soundly exemplifies what is transpiring today within Christianity. As human beings we have put an inordinate level of img_6168emphasis on doctrinal differences and biblical interpretations to the degree whereby they are exalted above what God Himself has told us within His Word. We have forgotten that Christianity is about modeling and living the way Christ lived where we are commanded to love our neighbors as ourselves through grace, mercy, kindness, compassion, patience, and understanding. We need to walk out our theology rather than simply intellectualizing it in order that God’s Word has it full intended impact within our hearts(breathing in through studying it and breathing out through living it). It is as though we have tried to put God into a proverbial box made out of our human preconceptions and categorical assumptions of Who we think He is. However, as you and I both hopefully know: God simply does not, and, moreover, He cannot fit into our human-made doctrinal boxes. Like apostle, Stephen quotes in Acts 7:48-50 from Mat 5:34,35 and Isa 66:1,2:

However, the Most High does not live in houses made by men. As the prophet says: Heaven is My throne, and the earth is My footstool. What kind of house will you build for Me? says the Lord. Or where will My resting place be? Has not My hand made all these things?

Disclaimer: Please do not misunderstand or misinterpret me at all, I do recognize that pure religion (see James 1:27) has a place and it is essential for the Christian walk of faith. However, without having a personal and dynamic relationship with God, religion is merely a set of rules, rituals and traditions which is dead in and of itself(look at the Pharisees). We need pure religion to keep us grounded while the relationship we have with God enables us to live in the liberties Christ purchased for us on Calvary. Pure religion and relationship are not opposing forces but rather they should work in harmony in a sort of symbiotic relationship.

The central result of religion without relationship is known as legalism where we frustratingly strive and strive to earn our salvation, while repeatedly falling short and being devastated at the end of our lives when we face God for judgement. What I fervently and earnestly want Christians to know about is the damning power of false (christian) religion which permeates the world today, particularly within the West. It is common knowledge that being a church-goer does not mean that you are saved because church membership cannot purchase salvation; salvation is received by grace alone through faith alone in the finished work of Christ alone. However, the church is always one of the most dangerous places you can be if you ignorantly fool yourself into thinking that you are saved when you are really not. Essentially, you have not only become a hypocrite without even realizing(or through suppressing it) but once you are within the clutches of religion, it is exceedingly difficult to escape it because the enemy has cunningly fooled you through using religion as his choice of weapon.

I cannot even begin to fathom the immeasurably high numbers of souls who have fallen victim to the clutches of false religion. I have personally experienced what this is like coming from a Roman Catholic Background myself for over 2o years of my life. I am normally not a stubborn person but God had to radically shake up my life before He captured my attention to see the destructive path which I was on. It is my prayer and hope that the true life-giving Gospel Message of unfathomable love and grace will liberate any readers who find themselves entrapped in fear-based religion.

I encourage anyone who desires to briefly share their experience of being set free from the bondage of religion to comment below.

I plan on continuing this series with a blog post entitled, “Paralyzing Power of Fear”. In this post, I intend on exploring some of the devastating ramifications of living in fear within the framework of religion.

May God Bless everyone in the weeks ahead!

Engaging Culture

Called to be Faithful Where You Are

In recent months, I have increasingly realized and observed that God pointedly uses His children in whatever platform He has sovereignly placed them. Oftentimes as believers we wrongly assume that we need to pursue a different vocational calling, rather than being faithful in our current platform within our sphere of influence. I know that I have certainly found myself praying that God would widen my platform or even provide me with some kind of  job in ministry in order that I may be an effective Christian. However, 2 Peter 1:3 clearly tells us, “His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness”. Therefore, we are called to be faithful regardless of where God has placed us because He has equipped us with “everything we need for a godly life”.

Engaging Culture Where You Are

In reference to last month’s post on “Biblical Worldview”, I quoted Pearcey saying that “Christian Principles are meant to saturate our lives and flow out into the world around us”. With this being said, we have been Engage Culturehonored with the privilege to be participants in God’s Redemptive Plan of making all things new–transcending over and above all boundaries. Categories which relegate things of culture(ie politics, business, law, music, the arts) as wholly sacred or secular are therefore irrelevant and unnecessary.

Lecrae states in his book, Unashamed, that “Because of Jesus, we don’t need to see culture as something to be avoided. It is something to be engaged. You cannot stomp something you’re running away from. You can’t influence something you never encounter”. In order to begin to transform culture, we need to engage culture. I believe that this starts by bringing our sacred callings into our current work environments through being instruments of God’s Mercy and Grace. Having a Biblical Worldview enables one to see the world through the proper lenses because it allows us to see that all of God’s creation is in fact good and redeemable.

In addition, when we already speak the same language of those within our workplace, our Christian Witness becomes more creditable and effective towards our co-workers. We are all strategically positioned in different job positions which should be treated as mission’s fields where we have the platform to reflect God’s greatness to those around us. There are unsaved people everywhere, some of whom are yearning to hear this precious Gospel Message. Many of these people may never enter church and your light may be the only exposure to church they will ever receive. If you and I do not share it with them, then who will? If your workplace is anything like mine, I tend to feel overwhelmed and even discouraged at times because of the sheer number of unbelievers. At the same time, I feel blessed to have been placed at a workplace with such a need for the Gospel Message to be shared. I am praying for boldness to be more vocal and intentional about witnessing at my workplace. I pray that you do the same. We should all share the same sense of urgency because time is running out and people’s souls are at stake.

Application: Living Authentically for Christ

By This They Will KnowIt is my hope that God will use you and I to engage a culture that has not known or seen the true and living God of the Bible.  After all, “we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works,which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them(Ephesians 2:10)”. The world should be able to notice something different about the way in which we live our lives. On a deeper level, unbelievers should be able to see the Body of Christ at work as the Church within the world. Jesus Himself tells us in John 13:35, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another”. It is this supernatural love within the Church that builds intentional relationships and is capable of reaching the lost unlike any other.

I cannot stress the importance of authentically walking out this faith which God has gifted us with. We are children of the light and God’s Spirit greatly desires to work in and through us to transform the world around us wherever this may be. But we need to be willing and this usually means stepping out of our comfort zones through taking leaps of faith. Having theological discussions about doctrinal differences and what the Scriptures teach are well and good, however it cannot and must not end here. The Gospel Message requires a responsive action on our part, which surpasses intellectual book knowledge as it extends into deep-rooted heart application. Actions always speak louder than words so I earnestly pray that we keep Christ at the forefront of our lives seeking to live wholeheartedly in our actions for His Glory.

May God continue to use His Children in their present spheres of influence to engage, impact, and radically transform the culture around them. I pray that we may all be emboldened to seek out the lost through disciple-making and that You may be glorified in and through us.

In Jesus’ Name, I pray Amen.

Biblical WorldView

What Sets Christianity Apart

Christianity is not merely another world religion where one needs to follow a prescribed set of rules, regulations, and steps in order to be made right with God. Conversely, Christianity is about placing our trust in the One Who has lovingly reached down to us, accomplishing that which is humanly impossible by living the perfect life of obedience through Jesus. Christ lived the life none of us could have lived. Therefore, rather than us hopelessly climbing a ladder of good works to somehow bridge the gap between us and God, all we need to do is trust in Jesus Who has already finished the work on the Cross.

“Sacred” and the “Secular” Coming Together

There is a phenomenon that has plagued Christianity for far too long. It has significantly limited and even restricted the effectiveness of the Church within the world by relegating Christ-following Christians to purely a private spiritual matter. Specifically, it is the false dichotomy between the “sacred” and the “secular”. In Nancy Pearcey’s book, “Total Truth”, she expounds on this school of thought by stating that “Christian Principles are meant to saturate our lives and flow out into the world around us”. She continues, “Having a Christian worldview means beings utterly convinced that biblical principles are not only true but also work better in the grit and grime of the real world”. As ambassadors of Christ, we are called and commissioned to be salt and light within this world. If we choose to stay in our own Christian bubbles and comfort zones, how can we expect the dying world around us to hear the glorious truth of the Gospel? It is so easy to become apathetic and spiritually-selfish through focusing excessive attention on being built up without physically going out to make disciples as God calls us to do. God’s redemptive plan extends to all things–both the secular and the sacred.

As believers, we know full well that the Christian faith is not designed to be compartmentalized within the sacred portion of our lives, rather, it needs to overflow into every facet of our lives!
biblical-worldviewPearcey wisely states, “The Christian faith is not just a religious truth, but the total truth about all reality.The implication is that the Christian Faith is meant to pervade and saturate everything we come into contact with. In turn, having a Biblical worldview shapes how we think about politics, business, law, education, and the arts. God has created absolutely everything (John 1:3), and as seen in Genesis 1:28, He calls us to subdue the earth. Right from the beginning of time, God has invited us to participate in His project for the world. Andy Otto explains this concept of subduing the earth below:

As one would “subdue” a plot of land, planting seeds, watering, cultivating it, caring for it, and harvesting its fruit, one is called to subdue the world—planting seeds through our witness, using and cultivating our gifts, working for the common good, and sharing its fruit with others. And as God has desires for the cultivation and harvesting of the earth, metaphorically, we do as well.

Application: Life Is Ministry

There is a common misconception that only those involved in ministry of some kind can really serve the Lord. This cannot be further from the truth and it greatly dismays me that many Christians believe this fallacy. Admittedly, I believed that this was true for my own life and it held me captive for several years. I knew that God had gifted me in different ways but I reasoned that I couldn’t serve Him as well or even at all unless it was explicitly done for ministry purposes. Once I first read about Biblical Worldview through observing Lecrae approach to his Hip Hop music as a Christian, I realized that as a Christian my entire life is ministry. Romans 12:1 instructs us to offer our bodies as a living sacrifice, which is our true and proper worship. In other words, everything we do spanning from the ways in which we interact with others all the way to our viewpoints on social issues should be rooted in our Biblical Worldview. We are not just Christians on Sundays, but rather we are called to serve the Lord 24/7; indeed life is ministry. Someone who has been called to a trade such as a plumber is no less capable of serving God than a pastor for instance. All that God expects is our joyful obedience as we serve and glorify Him in our unique ways.

In Lecrae’s book, Unashamed, he states that “Following Jesus doesn’t just save us from a less fulfilling life or eternal separation from God. It also saves us to a life that can radically transform the world around us through the power of God”. The responsibility then for Christians is to transform culture.

I plan on creating a follow-up article to this post regarding what transforming culture looks like for the Christian. Please stay tuned!

Lord,

We are so grateful for that which we have done for us on the Cross and we are honoured to be partakers of Your redemptive plan. Help us to live faithful lives to You in whatever you have called us to as our vocation. I pray that through Your Holy Word, You may mold our Biblical Worldview into one that has the ability to transform culture for Your glory. May we lift up Your Name and glorify You always!

In Jesus’ Name, I pray, Amen.

 

References:

Subdue the Earth: A Genesis Understanding of Discernment

Total Truth By Nancy Pearcey

Unashamed By Lecrae

 

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

Work’s Place in the Christian Life

It is common knowledge that a large percentage of our short lives is invested in our workplaces. This means that there will be plenty of worldly temptations vying for our attention intended to gradually pull us away from a healthy and intimate relationship with God. These worldly temptations may include: climbing the corporate ladder at the expense of relationships; seeking career promotions for the love of money(root of all evil); relying on work as a source for approval and recognition; allowing yourself to be defined by your work(identity); or even allowing work to become a replacement for God through idolatry. Continue reading