A Wizard with Words – Placing 2 Corinthians 5.11 within Context

July 28, 2009

Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade others.” (2 Corinthians 5.11a)

This is a difficult verse which is often used by those of a non-Calvinist mindset to justify highly produced and/or overly dramatic “gospel calls” from the pulpit.  And taken without context one may seek to have as much liberty with the idea of ‘persuasion’ as seems right to a man.  However, approached in context, or at least with an eye to what has been said before, this liberty must be restrained.

Recall that in 2 Corinthians 2.17 Paul remarks,

For we are not like so many, peddlers of God’s word . . .

Therefore, though in chapter 5 he admits “persuad[ing] others,” this must be properly balanced by his earlier statement.  The key to this is what remains in 2 verse 17,

. . . but as men of sincerity, as commissioned by God, in the sight of God we speak in Christ.

So, three things:

First, they speak “as men of sincerity.”  Their persuasion is not a show; it is a desperate plea from an earnest heart which lives to fulfill the Great Commission and see Christ glorified in the salvation of the lost.

Second, they speak “in the sight of God.”  Since it is knowledge of “the fear of the Lord” that motivates their persuading, so is it the knowledge of standing in the presence of God that motivates their restraint.  At no time should our actions attempt to steal away God’s glory– for that is the definition of sin– but even more in the presence of God should our concern be in honoring him appropriately.

Finally, they speak “in Christ.”  Though it is Paul who speaks we must not forget that he is the same man who wrote, “the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God” (Galatians 2.20).  Thus, when he speaks, Christ comes out.  And when it is Christ the focus cannot be upon glorifying Paul or utilizing Paul’s power in conversion.  No.  The focus must surely be upon glorifying the cross and the great salvation which Christ earned there.

Persuasion must always be tempered with these thoughts, esle the preacher will rest too highly on his own presumed ability to “win souls” and fall into gross evangelistic sin.

Revolutionary Christianity- Living the Revolutionary Lifestyle in the Treatment of Women, Part 2

May 30, 2009

“Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned and said to him in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher). Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”—and that he had said these things to her.” -John 20:16-18

“Moreover, some women of our company amazed us. They were at the tomb early in the morning, and when they did not find his body, they came back saying that they had even seen a vision of angels, who said that he was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see.” And he said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken!” “ -Luke 24:22-25

“Afterward he appeared to the eleven themselves as they were reclining at table, and he rebuked them for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they had not believed those who saw him after he had risen.” -Mark 16:14

I would like to quickly return to the matter that we were addressing the other day, about what the Bible teaches us on about the Christian attitude towards women. We argued that the true revolutionary Christian should be able to interpret the Bible’s message of honor and respect of women. However, in looking at verses surrounding the Easter celebration we see something else, that being that women are to be equal partakers of the good news with men!

This can be observed in the gospel accounts of Jesus’ resurrection where we see that the first one who sees and recognizes Jesus is his follower (but not wife, grrr!) Mary Magdalene. To truly understand the point being made, we must first understand that in the Jewish and Roman culture of Jesus’ time it was not acceptable in issues of witness to take the testimony of a female as being valid. If a crime or event occurred and there was a trial, no party could call a woman to the stand to give an account of what she saw, for the culture would not accept what she said as truth.

That said, we see that Jesus specifically commands Mary to go tell others of what she’s seen. Why would he do this, since obviously Jesus is familiar with the practices of the culture? And what’s more, we also see that Jesus chastises the male disciples for not believing what Mary has told them! So, not only does Jesus appear first to a woman and command her to go tell others, knowing that the culture will not accept her testimony, but then he gets frustrated that his followers did not believe what she came to tell them. Clearly Jesus is not just being incredibly dense here, but instead we can understand that he is being incredibly intentional. Through this transpiring of these events we watch how Jesus feels about the role of women in society and whether or not they should be oppressed in matters of honor and respect.

Thus, this is just one more point in the column of the anti-misogynistic gospel, and a particularly pertinent one since we see that Christ viewed women in such a high regard that he actually entrusted one with declaring the greatest news of all time, the news that without which our faith would be in vain!

Revolutionary Christianity- Living the Revolutionary Lifestyle in the Treatment of Women, Part 1

May 29, 2009

“Do not rebuke an older man but encourage him as you would a father, younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, younger women as sisters, in all purity. -1 Timothy 5:1-2

“Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” – Ephesians 5:25

One issue which really burns me about how the world views Christianity is in the treatment of women. So many people want to criticize the church as being neglectful or oppressive towards women. Even many inside the church attack conservative Christianity as being behind the times or too fundamental in its interpretation of the role of women. Therefore, it is necessary that we set on firm ground just exactly what the revolutionary Christian should believe. (Note: this is a look at treatment of women only. The role of women in ministry will not specifically be discussed, but if you wish to email me I would be glad to discuss this with you as well).

The main complaint is that the church is oppressive of women because of verses such as Ephesians 5:22 (“Wives, submit to your own husbands…”) and 1 Peter 3:7 (“…showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel…”). The feminist movement of the late 20th century argues that women are not weak and should not be “forced” to submit to any man, particularly their husband. Women are equal members of society, they say, and as such should be treated equally with and by men.

In response, many Christians (men, specifically) have failed in illuminating the texts. They say, “Yep, Ephesians 5:22; that’s what it says,” and then they expect the world to do the exegesis itself (or worse, they expect the women to be swayed by that evidence). However, as a Christian living the revolutionary lifestyle, it is important that we make the connection between the two sides.

First, we must make clear that this is a commandment being directed to believers. In no way should the church expect a non-believing couple to follow this model (see 1 Corinthians 5:12). Second, it is important that we assert what the Bible is truly saying to us here if we take the whole context and section. It tells us specifically two things: (1) women should willingly come under the authority of their husband. This does not mean that she is forced into submission, nor does it mean that she has relinquished all of her own opinions and identity, but just simply that when it comes to spiritual matters where there is disagreement, the woman should willing give way to her husband for direction. But this is checked by (2) which is that the husband is also to be in submission himself, that being to God. So, in as much as the wife is in submission to her husband, she can have faith knowing (hopefully) that her husband is in submission to God, and through her husbands submission the will of God can be done. Notice also that this doesn’t mean that the man is always right, but instead that when he is wrong then through his submission to God he will be corrected, and so this relieves the necessity for the woman to do the correcting.

We also must realize that the charges of misogyny can not be leveled against the revolutionary Christian male if he is in exercise of 1 Timothy 5:1-2. In this passage the young man is given direction for how to treat various gender/age groups, including older and younger women. Of older women he is instructed to encourage and treat her like a mother, which is certainly a good thing since the fifth commandment is that we are to honor our mothers. And of the younger women we are told to treat them in all purity like sisters. This again is a positive image, as I don’t know of any guy who would not want his sister treated well (see Genesis 34).

This point about younger women I believe is especially poignant. If there is anything that I could stress to young Christian males it would be the necessity for treating young women, whether they are believers or not, as sisters. The prevailing attitude of most young guys is to treat girls as objects, as pursuits and idols of sexual worship. This is why the call is made to treat them in all purity! Especially within the church, men should not take that to be there own personal dating service. Instead, we should treat these girls as sisters. We should love on them, encouraging them with kind words, telling them that they are beautiful and building them up. So many young girls struggle hard with their self-image, but a group of compassionate, God-obeying men could make a great difference in their lives by making them feel loved as they are. Notice that I said “God-obeying”? This isn’t about chivalry and some belief that men should just be courteous and open doors; it’s an observance of God’s command to treat young girls properly, out of love and respect, with pure thoughts, motives, and actions.

The world criticizes Christianity because of our perceived (or actual) attitude towards women, but the revolutionary Christian male can make a real difference in living out a life which treats women in the appropriate way which God has laid out: like mothers and sisters, in all purity.

Revolutionary Christianity- Living the Revolutionary Lifestyle in Anger

May 28, 2009

“And they came to Jerusalem. And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who sold and those who bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons . And he would not allow anyone to carry anything through the temple. And he was teaching them and saying to them, “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’? But you have made it a den of robbers.” “ – Mark 11:15-17

“And I was very angry, and I threw all the household furniture of Tobiah out of the chamber.” – Nehemiah 13:8

One of the more complicated issues for the revolutionary Christian to address is that of anger. When we think of anger the first image that comes to mind is of a person screaming and cussing and breaking things. This certainly is not something that would be considered Biblical. So, in understanding and trying to cope with this it is easy to construct rules which say not to get mad. In fact, in Christ’s teachings he even says that “everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment” (Matthew 5:22). Therefore, it can be settled that Christianity and anger are incompatible and so Christians should never be angry.

There is just one problem with this, that being, Christ himself got angry, angry even to the point that threw some tables around. I have found it to be a good marker for bad teachings, that we want to be careful not to create a theology which disqualifies Jesus. Thus, if it is not sinful for Christians to be angry, what is the right interpretation of how to behave?

Plainly put, I believe the solution can be found in Ephesians 4:26-27:

“Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil.”

It is alright to be angry. Anger is just one of the myriad emotions which God has created and giving to the human palatte for application. So, we clearly see that anger is not a sin in and of itself, but that we should be careful not to allow anger to lead us into some other sin.

We see an illustration of this in Nehemiah 13. In this chapter Nehemiah becomes aware that one of the priests has allowed an outsider to marry into his family and moreover has prepared for this man an apartment inside the store room of the temple. As it says above, Nehemiah was very angry and threw out all of the man’s possessions. Why? Because this was the house of God and the part which was to be used for storing the offerings to God were instead being used to house a man who by God’s decree was forbidden to join in the assembly of the Israelites. Thus, Nehemiah’s anger was towards the disobedience and irreverence being prosecuted against God. Was Nehemiah angry because some personal harm had been done to his person? No. Did he go overboard and kill the man out of rage? No. He simply got angry and cleansed the temple so that the proper respect may be paid to God, and then he let it go.

We also see an illustration of this in Genesis with the story of the rape of Dinah (Chapter 34). In verse 7 it says that “the sons of Jacob had come in from the field as soon as they heard of it, and the men were indignant and very angry, because he had done an outrageous thing in Israel by lying with Jacob’s daughter, for such a thing must not be done.” However, in response to this anger two of Jacob’s sons, Simeon and Levi, devised and executed a plan to slay all of the peoples associated with the man who committed this act (vv.25-26). Later, when Jacob goes to bless his sons, he chastises not all of the sons who were angry but just the two who carried their anger into sin (Genesis 49:8). Similarly, we have an account in 1 Samuel where the spirit of the Lord descends upon Saul and it says of Saul that “his anger was greatly kindled” (1 Samuel 11:6). As a result of this Saul splits two oxen in half and threatens to do the same to any persons oxen who does not come to stand up against a great injustice, and because Saul acted in the spirit of the Lord all went well with him.

Therefore, as a revolutionary Christian, we must get angry when God is disrespected or maligned, or whenever a great act of injustice or tragedy is committed against our brethren, however we must be careful not to sin in doing so. Our purpose must be to see God glorified and obeyed in the proper manner and not to fulfill a personal vendetta (“‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay’ says the Lord,” Romans 12:19). It is okay to get angry, to teach otherwise is sheer legalism, but as with many other things, our anger must be carried out with the Lord’s prayer in mind: that God’s will be done.

Revolutionary Christianity- Living the Revolutionary Lifestyle in Accountability, Part 3

May 27, 2009

“As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.” – Genesis 50:20

“And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” – Matthew 6:12

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins.” -Romans 3:23-25

So far in looking at how to live a revolutionary lifestyle in accountability we have discussed the need for transparency and admitting to the sins we commit and also have focused on how we can recognize Biblical repentance which leads to life versus false repentances which will lead to death. However, in this present culture of psychotherapy, antidepressants, and Dr. Phil, it is also necessary for us to discuss one last aspect of accountability, that being the avoidance of playing the victim.

I am a victim of my circumstances. Everyone has heard this, and if we’re honest, most of us have probably said a similar thing at some point in our life. These days everyone is a victim of what they don’t have. If you are poor then you’re a victim of not having the right clothes or living in the right neighborhood. If you’re rich then you are a victim of not having the right Coach purse or the right limo at prom. If you are married then you are victim of not having enough freedom to flirt with the new girl at work. If you have kids then you are victim of having to go to Disney World instead of Vegas on vacation. We can all claim some kind of victimization in our lives.

Moreover, in claiming this status of being a victim we seek some sort of compensation. This is what leads to school shootings and divorce and abortions. We feel slighted by our classmates or our spouse or by condoms and it is up to us to take care of getting retribution for the pain we have been caused. And so, the big question about all of this is “Is it Biblical?”

Is it Biblical to seek retribution for “wrongs” done against us, be it physical wrongs such as abuse, emotional wrongs likes neglect, or perceived wrongs like our upbringing? The straight-talk answer is a resounding “No!” It doesn’t take much studying to realize this either. Starting in Genesis 3, at the time when sin first enters the world, we see Adam and Eve caught up in the original blame game. God accuses Adam of sin, Adam blames Eve, Eve blames the serpent, and God curses them all! Why? Because none were holy. Even though the temptation was initiated by the serpent, Eve sinned in her pride to seek the wisdom from the Tree of Knowledge in disobedience to God’s command, and Adam sinned first in his lack of spiritual leadership over his household and secondly in partaking of the fruit as well. All were guilty and as such all had to bear the consequence.

Similarly for us, irregardless of what may have happened to us, and I don’t want to seem incompassionate because some people have terrible things happen to them which should never be done to any person, but we are nonetheless not holy either. David says in Psalm 58:3, “The wicked are estranged from the womb; they go astray from birth, speaking lies.” Here the wicked applies to all of us, for as we recall from Ephesians 2:1, we are all dead spiritually prior to God’s gift of regeneration.

Thus, as we see in Romans 3:23-25 and in 1 John 4:10, we are sinners separated from God, deserving of His wrath. We have sinned against God, and because He alone is holy, then He would be just to punish us for this sin. Yet that is the wonderful gospel! God’s wrath was averted by Christ’s atoning death on the cross. He was our propitiation, which literally says that His death was the means by which God’s wrath towards us was satsified. God took all of the horrors that were rightly ours because of our sin and executed them upon the Son, who stood as our substitute so that we may live. So, in light of this, what right do we then have to crucify someone else for the sins they commit against us?

This teaching couldn’t be anymore clear, and yet we quickly fall into the mindset of deflecting our own shortcomings onto others in attempt to make ourselves look or feel better. But, in order to exercise revolutionary Christianity we must reject this way of thinking. We must be accountable to our sins and not get caught up in playing the blame game to try and portray a false piety in front of the world. If we truly desire to be a revolutionary like Christ we must be accountable for our own sins and quick to forgive the sins of others against us, for as has long demonstrated, God is powerful enough to take that stuff which is meant by man to be purely for evil and use it for His greater purpose in the salvation of the elect.

Revolutionary Christianity- Living the Revolutionary Lifestyle in Accountability, Part 2

May 26, 2009

“If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” – 2 Chronicles 7:14

“For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.” – 2 Corinthians 7:10

In continuing with the idea of living revolutionary Christianity out in our accountability I think it is important to focus a little more on repentance. I recently listened to Pastor Mark Driscoll give a sermon on Nehemiah 9, a passage which sees the Levitical priests stand before the recently reunited Jerusalem and confess the sins of the people to God. In this message Driscoll spent some time discussing four types of false repentance. Thus, because I believe it’s important, and because God convicted me so clearly of the false repentance which I often make, I want to share thesebriefly with you.

The first type of false repentance is mere repentance. This is the type of repentance in which you know what you did was sin, you know you should confess it before God and seek His forgiveness, and yet inside you really have no brokenness or desire to change. This would be typified by doing all of the things in 2 Chronicles 7:14 (above) except for the part on “turning from (your) wicked ways.” This is certainly the false repentance which I am most guilty of. It is the repentance I find myself in when I get stuck in the trap of complacency and arrogance concerning my eternal security. It’s the mindset which says, “I know that I am saved forever, solely through the work of the Father and not of my own obedience, so it’s really no big deal if I continue doing this thing I know I’m not really supposed to do.” (Note: it is a big deal because God still commands us to be obedient after our regeneration!).

The second type is worldly sorrow. This is most certainly the type of false repentance being decried in 2 Corinthians 7:10. We see this when someone has an emotional breakdown in response to their sin, and in doing so make their show of repentance a point of pride instead of a true act of turning from sin. This seems to fall in line with the other admonitions which Christ gives in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7), where he repeatedly calls out the religious for doing acts of obedience in aflashy manner, seeking to have their rewards on earth.

The third form of false repentance we encounter is self-righteousness. This form of false repentance manifests itself in our desire to seek repentance for others sins, but not necessarily our own. This is what Jesus described in Luke 6:41 as pointing out the speck in your brother’s eye while ignoring the log in your own.

The final type of false repentance enumerated we wish to enumerate is religious repentance. In religious repentance you are exercising repentance in attempt to avoid punishment or retribution from God. We can see this come about because we misinterpret the meaning of fearing God. Instead of fearing God in a manner of humble and obedient reverence, we fear God as a cosmic bully who is always seeking to injure us for the sins we commit. In doing this we fail to make notice of the fact that God’s wrath was satisfied in Christ’s death upon the cross (1 John 4:10). Through Christ’s role as the propitiation for our sins we no longer bear the punishment of God in our own lives for the sins we commit, and thus have no reason to repent out of fright. This is one of the great significances of the cross, and we cheapen Christ’s sacrifice so much by failing to get this point.

As revolutionary Christians we must have a revolutionary view of repentance. We must recognize false repentance and flee from it, and we must seek to have repentance which is a true inner-brokenness over our sins, an internal sorrow over our disobedience to the God who loves us and is so gracious, and a peace knowing that God has been and will be faithful to forgive us through the death of His son.

Revolutionary Christianity- Living the Revolutionary Lifestyle in Accountability, Part 1

May 25, 2009

“Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin!

For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment. Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.” – Psalm 51:1-5

“For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.” – Romans 7:15-20

“For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.” – 1 Corinthians 15:9

One of the great plagues of our present age is the complete lack of accountability among all citizens of the earth. Thus, even more should the lifestyle of revolutionary Christianity be about being accountable, both to God and to each other. When the world around us deflects and hides and puffs up against the negative images which they wish to oppress, we as Christians must embrace our failings and bring them before God in a spirit of humility to be redeemed.

As exemplified by Paul, we must admit that there is nothing in us apart from God which seeks to do that which is holy. As his words in 1 Corinthians 15:9 and 1 Timothy 1:15 show, he is fully aware of his guilt in the persecution and murder of Christians prior to his conversion. This is because, as he states in Romans 3:10-18, there is no one which is righteous, no one who seeks God. Or, as John says in 1 John 1:8,10, “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us…. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word in not in us.”

This is most passionately proclaimed by David, who in anguish over his sin with Bathsheba composed the 51st Psalm, saying “I know my transgressions and my sin is ever before me.” David was king of Israel and yet, under conviction of his utter depravity and wickedness, falls on his face and cries out to God for forgiveness, acknowledging that he is a sinner and wholly worthy of God’s judgment.

Therefore, we too must be ready to admit where we have failed in our obedience to God’s commands, being overwhelmed with a godly grief which “produces a repentance which leads to salvation without regret” (2 Corithians 7:10). We may take comfort in the verse sandwiched between two earlier verses, 1 John 1:9, which says that “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from unrighteousness.”

The life of a revolutionary Christian is not one lived in the shadows, one eclipsed by the massive sin which we hide or leave unconfessed in our hearts, but instead is one characterized by a transparency and genuine sorrow over our disobedience. If we wish to see the world convicted of their sins then we first must be willing to confront our own, no matter how ugly or embarrassing they may appear.

“If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.” – 1 John 1:6-7

Revolutionary Christianity- Living the Revolutionary Lifestyle in Love

May 24, 2009

“By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers…. If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.” – 1 John 3:16, 4:20

” ‘This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.’ “ – John 15:12-13

“And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.” – Colossians 3:14

“Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.” – 1 Peter 4:8

One would be hard pressed to live any sort of Christian life, much less a life of revolutionary Christianity, without having some notion of the importance of love in sustaining that life. Heck, the great endzone verse, John 3:16, gives a statement which is fully predicated on the basis that God so loved us. And so, through the ministry of Jesus and the apostles we see that this act of love on the part of God, and the act of love on the part of Jesus for dying on the cross (1 John 4:10), the call to love is transferred to us.

However, many these days want to confuse love as spoken of in the gospel with the love found in the world. They teach that we should love the earth, love ourselves, and no matter what, as long as it is done in “love”, any action is just peachy. Yet, what the world and liberal theologians paint as “love” often times stands in stark contrast to the love we’re called to as a revolutionary Christian. We are told that “God is love” (1 John 4:16), and not that this is an equality, that there is something called “love” and something called “God” and they are actually the same thing, but instead that whatever there is that is love can be wholly found in the character of God. Thus, we must be slow to assume anything is love that is clearly in contradiction to God as revealed in scripture.

Moreover, the message we see in 1 John 3:16 and the Gospel of John 15:12-13 is clear: the greatest love is shown by the willingness to lay our life down for the sake of another. Then, interpreting this with the understanding that love reflects the character of God, and equipped with the knowledge that Christ’s love lead him to die a sacrificial death on the cross so that we may be reconciled to God, we understand that to love in the way Christ instructs us means that we should sacrifice all of our physical pleasures and ties for the cause of making Christs name known. As it says in Matthew, whoever loves their family more than Jesus is not worthy of following him (ch. 10:37), nor is anyone who values their possessions on this earth (ch. 19:21), and so anyone who tries to hold onto their worldly life will surely lose everything in eternity (ch. 10:39).

Furthermore, if we are to imitate Christ’s love in this manner, then we must also acknowledge that this love is especially for the unbelievers. Romans 5:6-8 says:

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

So often we are proficient at demonstrating love to fellow believers, but in order to be truly revolutionary we must be even more willing, willing enough to “take up our cross daily” and to die for those still trapped in sin. If we are to demonstrate true revolutionary Christian love, we must be willing to lay down our lives, risk everything we have in this world, in order to see the reconciliation of every alcoholic and prostitute and deadbeat dad and homosexual and drug addict and pedophile to the one true God.

The people living in the world hate us. They hate us not only because they disagree with us, but also because we know the mystery of life everlasting, we know the peace of living a life in which Christ has redeemed us from sin, and yet all too often we are too afraid to exercise the revolutionary love to which we are called, laying down our lives in order that they may know this as well!

Revolutionary Christianity- Living the Revolutionary Lifestyle in Battle

May 23, 2009

“In Judah it was said, “The strength of those who bear the burdens is failing. There is too much rubble. By ourselves we will not be able to rebuild the wall.” And our enemies said, “They will not know or see till we come among them and kill them and stop the work.” At that time the Jews who lived near them came from all directions and said to us ten times, “You must return to us.” So in the lowest parts of the space behind the wall, in open places, I stationed the people by their clans, with their swords, their spears, and their bows. And I looked and arose and said to the nobles and to the officials and to the rest of the people, “Do not be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your homes.” “ – Nehemiah 4:10-14

 “Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.” “ – Matthew 2:13

“It was now two days before the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread. And the chief priests and the scribes were seeking how to arrest him by stealth and kill him” – Mark 14:1

I was listening to a sermon once that came across the above passage from Nehemiah and I thought that it portrayed a very strong message for those trying to live the lifestyle of revolutionary Christianity. There will be discouragement from within (“In Judah it was said . . .“), and there will be attacks from without (“And our enemies said . . .“), and in light of such we must be prepared, with swords and spears and bows if necessary, in order to protect our Christian faith and family.

I believe this is a point, seemingly obvious, but all too often glossed over by churches who are exceedingly timid to bear their own arms in the fight to preserve that which we believe in, love and cherish. There are too many churches who have adapted a policy of not being quarrelsome (2 Timothy 2:14,23-24), but instead of taking this stance in the proper context of not mincing words with false teachers who are arguing foolish things, they use it to be noncommittal and overtly passive to the fiery arrows which the world is all too ready to launch at us.

Instead, as Nehemiah shows, the revolutionary Christian must always be ready to take up arms and defend Christianity against the forces which want to see it dead. If Nehemiah had allowed passivity the church may have never been rebuilt in Jerusalem. In the same way, if we don’t stand ready for battle today, the attacks of popular culture and secular progressivism may leave the modern Christian landscape as desolate as that of Jerusalem before Nehemiah.

One point that we must always keep in mind, and I don’t think that I can ever do too much to emphasize this point, is that the battle we fight on Earth is one with two fronts: the front against the forces of the world and the front against the corruption of “Christians.” We can clearly see this portrayed in the life of Jesus, who had to flee as a baby from Israel because the non-Jewish king Herod the Great longed to kill him in order to save his kingdom, and who eventually was murdered as a result of the plot by the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem. We also see this in the passage we reflected on from Nehemiah: not only did Nehemiah have to protect from the enemies of God outside of the city but he also had to contend with the despair of God’s people in all of Judah.

This principle is of supreme importance to remember for the revolutionary Christian in America today. In a country where well over half of the population claim to be “born-again Christians”, or specifically in my age group 60%, it seems like this would not be a problem. It seems like with such a large fellowship of “believers” in America that we would all stand united together against the world and only have one battle front. However, the problem that we see is the extreme disconnect between people who claim to be “born-again” and those with a truly regenerated spirit. I don’t wish to pass judgement on anyone person, but I think we all may agree that “not everyone” in our country who says “‘Lord, Lord’ will enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 7:21-23). As such, we come across plentiful resistance from “Christians” whose hearts are still stone (Ezekiel 36:26) and who are turned against the will of God (Matthew 12:50).

Therefore, as a revolutionary Christians we must be prepared for the battle. We must be daily putting on the armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-20), reading and studying our Bibles (“and take… the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.”) , communing with our fellow revolutionaries (Hebrews 10:24-25), engaging the culture as Paul instructed (Corinthians 9:19-23) without being corrupted by that culture (Romans 12:2, 1 Peter 1:14). This is our fight and has been since the days of Jesus’ incarnation on Earth. We must be prepared to battle on two fronts, remembering always, as Nehemiah instructed, our Lord, who is great and awesome, whose glory is our rallying cry!

Revolutionary Christianity- Living the Revolutionary Lifestyle in Unity

May 22, 2009

“For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body— Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.” – 1 Corinthians 12:12-13

” ‘The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.’ “ – John 17:22-23

” ‘And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd.’ ” - John 10:16

“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” – Galatians 3:28

One clear teaching of living a lifestyle of revolutionary Christianity is the call for believers to live in unity. We are described as a “body” (1 Corinthians 12:12-27, Romans 12:5), and as a body our “head” is Christ (Ephesians 1:22-23, Colossians 1:18). Moreover, the call of Galatians 3:28 above, combined with Paul’s declaration of becoming “all things to all people” (1 Corinthians 9:19-23), shows us that Christianity is above all earthly divisions.

Issues of racism, sexism, or political discrimination are not and should never be a problem for the revolutionary Christian because it was not a problem for Christ. We even see at one point in the New Testament epistles where Paul recounts having to rebuke Peter for partaking in divisive behavior (Galatians 2:11-14). Yet, throughout America we see people using religion to segregate and attack people of different races, sexes, or political views. We see the KKK rising up and attacking African-Americans, often in the name of religion, burning crosses on their property and at places of worship. We see “Godly” men oppress their wives, even to the point of physical abuse, because they read Ephesians 5:22-24 but fail to continue on and read Ephesians 5:25-33. We see people setting bombs inside abortion clinics to try and stop the killing of innocent children, forgetting that “vengeance is the Lord’s” (Romans 12:19). All over there are religious people using the name of Christ to perpetuate their own sinful prejudice’s. However, as a revolutionary Christain we know this is not God’s way.

Similarly, we see divisions in the church itself. In every town there are multiple churches coming from different denominations. But what is a “denomination”? It is a division in the body, a man-made separation in which people say “This what I believe and if you don’t like it I’m going to take my congregation and play somewhere else!” Sometimes these divisions become necessary because God’s people must reclaim the truth from a church which teaches heresy (such as was the case in the Protestant Reformation). However, often times the divisions come because some group of people begin to teach or believe that which is not Biblical and desire to start their own group which has now placed man’s desires and wants above God’s Holy Word (we see this in the recent split of the Methodist church over congregations wanting to accept homosexuality as unsinful). However, as true Christians we must seek to avoid unnecessary divisions and to not find ourselves attaching labels out of pride or tradition, since as Paul says in 1 Corinthians 12:13, “For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body— Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.”

Therefore, to live the revolutionary Christian lifestyle we must seek to avoid sinful prejudices and unholy divisions, feelings that would create animosity or strife among one another, and instead live our lives in humble submission to Christ as the Head over us, longing to glorify Him in all of our actions and relationships.