Sunday, July 23, 2006

# 158: One Purpose

While on earth, Jesus Christ had—and still has—one purpose for those who decide to follow His ways. What He taught, how He lived, and what He believed is the only example He left for those God chose before time began.

That sounds like a demanding agenda for anyone who at the same time must attend to all the cares and necessities this busy world has made us bondage to. That is the reason we must not get involved in worldly matters that require a great deal of our time. Time is of the essence in serving our Lord. There is no second chance when it comes to time. When a day or hour has passed, that time can never be recaptured; it is gone forever. Time is precious. We must use it wisely.

That is the main reason Jesus gave this parable in Mark 4:18. “. . . hear the word, but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desire for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful.” There are similar verses in Matthew and Luke. Let me elaborate on this verse.

First: Before we get involved in anything, we must ask ourselves this question: Will there be worries and additional stress as a result of this venture? If so, we must avoid it, regardless of how rewarding it may seem. It is difficult to dwell on Godly matters, let alone live as required, with unnecessary stress and worries in our lives. They are sly thieves of our precious time that belongs to God.

Next: The desire for wealth is natural, but wealth can ensnare us in a trap that will dilute our desires to do the work of Christ. Jesus used the word “choke.” When a person is being choked, spiritual death is pending. Wealth, though it feels so nice to have, will deceive us without our even knowing it. That deceit will make us feel secure. And the more financial security we have in this world, the less we will be aware of or have the desire for the needed security that God alone gives. God demands us to rely on Him for whatever life will bring. Of course, that is no excuse for laziness. I, personally, along with many New Testament scriptures, am aware of the damage wealth can do, and therefore, we strongly downplay the desire for excess money. Click on post # 116: “What Money Can and Cannot Buy.” I know this topic is extremely controversial; nevertheless, I am continually inspired to write about it.

The last part of that above verse is a catchall: “And the desire for other things.” Americans are notorious for wanting and having things. Things, regardless of their size or value, require and demand responsibility. They own us as much as we own them. We somehow secretly believe that things (stuff) will make us happy and give us a feeling of fulfillment. What a lie.

The end result of this verse: Our lives are so full of worldly cares and joys that we have no time or desire for following Jesus. Result: Guess what? Oops; bye-bye, Jesus. That is, if He ever was number one in the first place.

Is it fair to say that the biggest problem in the Christian world today is that we don’t take our Christianity seriously? In other words, do we realize what we are getting into when we say we are Christians? We are to follow the example of Jesus Christ in all we say or do, regardless of our station in life.

How would Jesus be doing it if He were in your position or mine? Most likely, He would never have gotten Himself into our situations in the first place. Nevertheless, now that He is there, how is He going to get us out of the mess we are in? It is possible, but it won’t be easy, cheap or without pain. That is exactly what most of us need.

Let’s make it more understandable. Although we all have different gifts, we all have one purpose in our Christian life: that is to continually make Jesus Christ our role model in all we say or do (what His purpose was must be ours). If this teaching sounds new to some, let me give just a few New Testament Scriptures to verify the sole objective in our Christian lives.

Philippians 2:5. “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus.”

1st John 2:6. “Whoever claims to live in him must WALK as Jesus did.” To put it in colloquial terms, we must not only ‘Talk the talk,’ but we must also ‘walk the walk.’ Talking is easy and pleasant, but walking takes effort; that is where most of us are delinquent.

Ephesians 5:1. “Be imitators of God . . .”

1st Corinthians 11:1. “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ,” the Apostle Paul exhorts us.

Philippians 3:17. “Join with others in following my example . . .” The Apostle Paul’s words again.

1st Peter 2:21. “To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.”

Luke 16:15. “What is highly valued among men is detestable in God’s sight.”

Colossians 3:2. “Set your minds on things above, and not on earthly things.”

Did Christ make His point clear through my pen? Can anyone look at how “christians” are living today and see any resemblance of what they were meant to be, according to Scripture? Who is responsible for this? I don’t know exactly what you would call it. It certainly is not Bible- based Christianity. I would call it religious, feel-good playacting, at best. Yes, the ones responsible are mainly the clergy. That does not get the gullible laity off the hook. I could understand that most would like to have life easy; that goes along with the god they choose to worship. Therefore, church leaders give them exactly what they desire. Then, with a smiley face, they silently say, “Take life easy, eat, drink and be merry, enjoy life. But don’t forget to give us some money and your continued membership. Then, live as you please; it will be no skin off our backs. Just remember, God loves you.”

In ending, some might be asking, “What is it that we must be doing to be living like Jesus did?” The answer is simple: EVERY Christian must have one overwhelming PURPOSE in their lives, regardless of what their position in life is, married or single, 12 kids or none, young or old, rich or poor, healthy or sick, busy or relaxed, in good weather or bad, stressed or calm, intelligent or uneducated, etc.

If, by some chance, that is not the desire in your life, then according to the aforementioned verses in the New Testament Scripture, you are not a genuine Bible-believing Christian, and your Christianity is in vain. If that is your case, live it up in this world while you still have a chance. But just don’t continue to disgrace the beautiful name of Jesus Christ any more than it already is by calling yourself a Christian. These are hard words, but they needed saying.

Don’t be hostile to me in your thoughts; I am not saying this on my own—I am just quoting Scripture. For that reason, everyone must be absolutely certain they are worshiping Jesus Christ in a manner that is acceptable to Him. Why? Believing as God requires must be the very most important part of our lives. It involves eternity, not just fleeting moments. That is the sole purpose I was inspired by Almighty God to publish this post.

Some might ask, “What’s in it for me?” The joy of knowing that of all the thousands that visit this blog, possibly one person, hopefully thousands, will spend eternity with God because of something written herein. Just the thought sends shivers up and down my spine.

Click on the April 06 archives, blog # 141, “Predestination Demystified” if you want to know why God chooses who He does and why.


Jay said...

Al you made a point with “That is the reason we must not get involved in worldly matters that require a great deal of our time.” Can you find a scripture to prove that to me.. Christ left us in this world to be part of this world. If you think Christ wants us to live in this world just as He did to qualify us as Christians you are missing the point. We have this world and this is where He left us. We need money to survive. I think we can attain money and still love God and serve Him. He only asks us not to make money our god. I think it can be done. A few people have given everything like the early apostle did and survived just as they did. God does not change.. If you are one that can do that, God will take care of every need. If you are working for Christ. Others who don’t have that calling, will have to do the best they can, trying to survive in this world. Trying to accomplish the mission Christ gave His church. Bringing the lost to the knowledge and salvation of knowing and trusting in Him.
You make another point of asking “look at how “Christians” are living today” are we to be looking at how other Christians measure up or should we be more concerned about how we stand with Christ.
When I say we have to be part of this world I am not saying we should be like the people of the world, to say we are not part of the world is denial. Rom 12:2 Don't become like the people of this world. Instead, change the way you think. Then you will always be able to determine what God really wants-what is good, pleasing, and perfect. 1Co 7:31 Those who use the things in this world should do so but not depend on them. It is clear that this world in its present form is passing away. And this last one tells me you can be a rich Christian and still follow Christ, I’m sure this is written to followers. 1Ti 6:17 Tell those who have the riches of this world not to be arrogant and not to place their confidence in anything as uncertain as riches. Instead, they should place their confidence in God who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. With Brotherly Love Jay

JC said...

Jay, thanks for your nicely written and well thought-out comments, I wish I would receive more comments like yours. As I took a quick overview of your comments, it quickly became apparent when I read between the lines that Christians could somehow do as little as possible for the Christian cause, while not overtly breaking any sinful rules, so as not to lose their salvation. I know exactly where you are coming from; I have been there. Of course, the ‘Once saved always saved’ crowd, can do or not do whatever or however they please, they can’t lose their salvation. SURE !

But to go beyond how I believe, what I write don’t count, I will respond to each of your comments with Scripture.

In response to your inquiry as to Scriptures that concerns not involving ourselves in worldly matters that take up a great deal of our time. There are at the minimum of seven verses that use the phrase ‘make every effort.’ It is fair to say that the implication is, in order to make every effort as to what the verses indicate, it would take as much time as we can possibly muster-up. In order to acquire that time, we will have to sacrifice legitimate worldly activities which are normal distractions that not absolutely necessary. I will quote just one verse and give you the location of the other verses, which you or other bloggers can lookup yourselves.

Luke 13:24, “Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to.”What can be more descriptive than that, as to how we must spend our time?

Here are the remaining verse that use the phrase ‘make every effort’: Romans 14:19, Ephesians 4:3, Hebrews 4:11, and 12:14, 2nd Peter 1:5, and 1:15, and 3:14. If that is not enough, The Apostle Paul in 1st Thessalonian 5:16 exhorts us to “. . .pray continually. . .” You might say, “He really didn’t meant what he said, he is just giving us a friendly suggestion.” I beg your pardon. Can you see anyone praying or concentrating continually while attending to “important” worldly matters?

Here are more: Colossians 3:2. “Set your mind on things above, and not on earthly things.” There are dozens more verses that infer/imply time is of the essence in the Christian life. In fact, I would go so far as to say that Christianity is a continual wholehearted, active love-affair with our Lord Jesus Christ--I will be publishing a blog on love in a few days. I suggest you read it.

In response to you comment on modern Christians not having to live as Jesus did, I will give you only two verses and if you want the rest, there are at least half a dozen verses that say Christ is our only example.

1st John 2:6. “Whoever claims to live in Him must walk as Jesus did.”

Philippians 2:5. “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus.”

If they know it or not, ever person has some sort of a role-model. If Christians didn’t have Jesus as their role-model, who would they have? Superman or Wonder-Women.

Concerning our need for money; Certainly we must have money to live in this world. I never said we should have no money. The concept the New Testament is against is for Christians to have more then they need while the next person is without. More on riches in the last few paragraphs.

You said some Christians don’t have the calling of working for Christ. The only ones that don’t have that calling are fake Christians. This is an extremely important subject. If you can find just one verse in the New Testament, just one, to confirm your statement, please let me and other know where it is.

When you quoted 1st Timothy 6:17, to justify that Christians can be rich; that verse is not complete without the next verse, verse 18, which says, “Command them [the rich] to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and be generous and willing to share.” I am not sure if you are aware that poverty in the world 2000 years ago was the prevalent lifestyle. I ask you, how long can genuine Christians who were rich, keep their wealth while poor Christians are all around them. Not very long. Remember, love for neighbor is the second greatest command. One can’t love their poor Christian brothers and sisters and others without being generous with there money.

I truly understand the great feeling of security that wealth give, and the Christian concept of not desiring wealth violates our most basic animal instinct: survival of the fittest. In order to submit to such a radical notion, a person would have to be reborn or come from another planet (the kingdom of God) or both. It is no wonder many “christians” are attempting to legitimize and defend wealth with Old Testament Scripture, but their attempts are all in vain. The New Testament overrides/fulfills the Old Testament.

Although poverty is not the going lifestyle in America today, there are many Christian and others in this rich country that are without; What right does any wealthy person who claims to be a genuine Christian have, not to share with others in need, not only in America but in third world countries. You see, no matter how one looks at it, wealth (having more than one needs) is incompatibly with the Christian lifestyle.

To learn more on wealth and the Christian life, click on June, 06 archives, blog # 153, “Anatomy of Wealth.” And December, 05 archives, Blog # 116 “What Money Can and Cannot Buy.”