If you know me, you know I can be a little challenging in my posts at times. I really don't mind being honest about my feelings. However, I never plan my day insuring I will be controversial or searching out ways to challenge (just for challenge's sake). It's just not in my heart. After walking with Jesus a few years, and learning His Word, I can't help but speak up when I see things going on that simply don't gel with His word.
So what's eating me today? It's the same thing that eats at me every day. Christ-followers who are not following after Christ, while they think they are! I struggle with reconciling the life-style of many who call themselves Christians with what the Word of God says about the life-style of a believer. I struggle with the "western gospel" presented by Pastors, churches, and T.V. ministries in this country. I don't know if you've noticed yet, but it just doesn't line up with the Word!
In our culture walking by faith means, believing God for a new car or house or for something beyond our natural financial means. There's nothing wrong with believing God for a financial breakthrough or stuff or physical healing or someone's salvation. However, if that's the depth of our faith and our understanding of walking by it, we are missing most of God's Word. According to James, 1st, and 2nd Peter walking by faith means trusting Jesus only for one thing...your entire life! "How blessed is the man who has made the Lord his trust, and has not turned to the proud, nor to those who lapse into falsehood." (Psa. 40:4) The Bible instructs us completely on how to live for Christ. We don't need a TV preacher (who thinks he's a star) to tell us what he says God says we should do. Come on somebody! Our born again, supernaturally regenerated spirit gels perfectly with the Word of God if we will just receive it from Him! I'm not saying we don't need teachers...I'm just saying, "God give us teachers who teach Your Word...according to Your Word!"
When the apostles James and Peter teach us about rejoicing in and through fiery trials they are talking about trials that will send you to your grave. Trials that may send you to prison or take one of your loved ones away. The joy comes now, knowing that when the trial takes this natural life from you...you will be forever in the presence of the One who redeemed your soul! Man! There is something about suffering for Christ's sake that produces a supernatural, everlasting joy...now! That new house produces some joy now...but only now and temporarily. It also produces a big ole honkin' mortgage payment!
Many Christians in the world today suffer for their standing with Jesus. Their standing is salvation from sin just like yours. However, in their particular country they could die today because they said "yes" to living wholly for Jesus. But...like the early Christians walking by faith means trusting God to eat, sleep, clothe, and eventually just live so the gospel can be furthered. How concerned is the American church with furthering the Gospel...no matter what the cost? When one chooses to walk by faith, the Bible says that faith will be tested. Here's why. (James 1:3), "...knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance." That endurance results in the Gospel being furthered!
The Bible talks about the judgment seat of Christ for believers. At the judgment seat we won't be judged for our sins. But we will be judged according to the way we served Christ. Most believers in our culture see that as our version of purgatory. We think "Oh I know I'm not really serving Him in this life, but I'll get in anyway; just with fewer rewards. I can live with that!" But I'm thinking, if the Word of God is true, only those who have lost their life in Him (in this life) will get in!
No one (including me) longs for the fiery trials of persecution due to living for Jesus. And quite frankly, I am very glad we still live in a nation in which we can live out loud for Jesus without the persecution some other nations are experiencing today. But God has given us an incredible opportunity to live strongly and loudly for Jesus in our country...at least for now. He has given us the mandate to carry the gospel to every part of the world, and to pray fervently and consistently for those believers who are persecuted! I am wondering what Jesus will say (when we stand before His judgment seat) about the western gospel life-style we live? Will our comfortable life-styles please Him? Will He say "Cool car" or "Sweet designer jeans"? I'm just wondering.