Friday, November 4, 2011

Modern March | a Christian blog

Modern March | a Christian blog

Ministers of Reconciliation

Posted: 03 Nov 2011 08:20 AM PDT

In a world of subjective truths, complete equality, tolerance, and acceptance, Christianity has become nothing more than "another" religion in the eyes of many. Western culture in particular is grievously enamored with the idea of self-reliance, self-dependence, and self-worth. Christianity is extremely counter-cultural because it teaches the actuality of human depravity, the necessity for a Savior, an other-worldly focus, and an eternal view of our temporal lives. For the world at-large, this is something that is considered intolerant and outdated, a tradition steeped in tradition, and a stumbling block to progress in the world. For Christians, however, this is true reality. This is life for the human race

Perhaps a substantial reason for the negative view of Christianity is the attitude and actions of Christians themselves. As a world religion, the stigma of dependence on something outside ourselves is already a built-in excuse for the world to reject us. In addition, Christians mistake their salvation as a license to be self-righteous and judgmental, wondering why the world is not intelligent enough to "figure it out." As the Pharisee in Luke 18, we often look at the world around us exclaiming, "Thank you God that I'm not like these tax collectors!" As the story goes, the Pharisee has much to learn from the tax collector whose only justification is in the mercy of God, not in his righteous (or unrighteous) works. I have encountered many non-Christians and de-churched Christians who use Christian hypocrisy as the chief reason for their unbelief. Often times this is a copout, in my estimation, but just as often it is as real to them as Jesus is to us. For Jesus to be a catalyst for change in the world, Christians must first wear His name with humility, dignity, and fervor.

As Jesus so clearly states in Luke 19, even if we do not worship Him, creation itself will cry out His name. He doesn't need us to change the world but, nonetheless, He uses us as agents of reconciliation (2 Cor. 15:14-21). It is our duty and obligation to speak truth into the world (Matt. 28:18-20), and there is no "out clause" for the Christian. We are to be salt and light in a tasteless and dark world (Matt. 5:13-16), loving Him and others because He first loved us (1 John 4:19). There is a story going on all around us, a story God has been writing since before the foundation of the world. Again, He doesn't need us, but He wants us and uses us. Acts 17 tells us that God has appointed to every person the time and boundaries in which they live so that they will find Him. So, for the Christian, this means that not only are you in the time and place that you are to find God, but those around you are in a similar position. You cannot save His elect, but it is your burden as a Christian to treat everyone as though they are. As the great Charles Spurgeon once said (and I paraphrase), "I believe that God will save His elect, and I also believe that if I do not preach the Gospel He will lay the blood of the lost at my doorstep."

A non-Christian reading this essay may have no clue what I am talking about. Heck, a Christian reading this may be confused, but the Bible is the only authority Christians have to stand on and we must plant our roots firmly in it. In the end, we do not know the answers to every question about how and why God saves anyone, but His Word is very clear that the proclamation of His Gospel is a key component to transforming the world (Romans 10). The world cannot be ultimately changed for the better by new legislature, war, personal enlightment, or secret philosophies; it can only be changed by the sin-stomping, life-altering, culture-scandaling, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. He is the way, the truth, and the life and no one comes to the Father but through Him and by Him (John 6:44; 14:6).

This is our hope, and this is hope for our world. May we as Christians reflect Christ in a way that is not self-righteous and proud, but rather humble and sacrificial. Perhaps one of the most telling verses in the entire New Testament comes in Acts 2. After hearing the preaching of the Word, the early Christians went about their daily lives following the apostles' teaching, sacrificing for one another, and spending genuine time in community. The result? They were loved by those around them and "the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved" (2:47). People were being saved just by watching these Christians live their lives! This is the Gospel at work in the world, changing lives through lives that love God and love others. The word being preached is extremely important, as seen earlier in Acts 2, but there is so much more to it. Jesus will be a catalyst for change in the world when Christians obey Him the way these early Christians did.

I was first introduced to church at the age of 14. Following my parents' divorce, I was subconsciously chasing after self-worth and the approval of others. I found that at church. There were people there who loved me, who invested in me, and who genuinely wanted to show Christ to me. All of these factors taught me things about God, but I was always provided with a list of rules to follow in order to convince God to love me. It wasn't until the age of 21 before Christ took full hold of my heart. When hearts are transformed, actions will follow. At first, I was more like the bratty kid who does chores begrudgingly rather than a respectful and loving son, obeying out of love, respect, and appreciation for my Father. It is paramount that Christians be ministers of reconciliation, watching Jesus grab hearts not through our Pharisaical attempts at righteousness, but through our works of love aimed both at Him and at His image-bearers. Christ does not need us, but He uses us. May we be faithful stewards of this responsibility.

Filed under: Daily Life, Gospel, Testimony


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