Monday, August 4, 2014

Embrace The Difference

Please love me as I bear my soul on an issue. Before I continue let me say that no one has offended me. What I write, I write with no particular person or persons in mind. No one event or action by any one particular person or persons has provoked me to write this. It is what I see and hear that bothers me. It is also what I don't see and hear that bothers me. What is this issue? It is the issue of those who claim to be Christ-followers...not following Christ. One more disclaimer before I continue. I realize that we are not perfect, even as Christians. None of us are flawless. Thank our God we are not required to be flawless.

Yes we are still human. But we are very different. Different is the keyword. One who is a follower of Jesus is different. The Spirit of God in us makes us different. As a matter of fact, one who claims to be a Christian and is not different is not a true follower of Jesus. Can I say it one more time? In order to be a follower of Jesus one must be different.

When I completely turned my life over to Jesus I was different. I knew it. I acted differently. I began to talk differently. I began to live differently. And even though I was convinced I was different, those who knew me saw the difference as well. My family witnessed the change. My friends witnessed that I was different. I lost most of my friends because I was different from before. I was different from the world. The loss was a blessing however, as the friends I made were now different! The flow of my life was different from the world. Keyword (again), different.

What I see is a Christian world full of Christians who are coerced by the world to live like the world, not different from the world. For example, in our culture we are addicted to entertainment. Entertainment in itself is not bad. It's the addiction that concerns me. A Christian life addicted to entertainment is numb to real world needs, and to the Spirit of God.To be addicted to entertainment is to be addicted to self. (Do you still love me?)

What I don't see are generations being raised up to be sold out to Jesus Christ. What I don't see are Christian parents who require their children (from a very early age) to read, study, memorize, and quote the Scripture; to pray fervently to the One who is their God, regardless of their youth. To be sold out to Jesus is to be different. Being different will impact our life at a time.

Listen to Jesus. "If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me." (Luke 9:23) The only way we can follow after Jesus is to deny self. In order to follow Jesus we must be different. Believe me, one who denies self is different from one who lives for the world (and self). Jesus has done His part. He came and bore ALL of our sins. He came and removed our guilt. When we truly choose to surrender our lives to Him we become new creatures in Him. Our part is to embrace the difference, and follow hard after Him. It is impossible to change the world if we live for the world and thus blend in to the world.

When Jesus came, He was different. The way He came was different. His life was different. He didn't conform to the standards of religion and legalism. He was just different. He was different because He was from another world, not this one. The truth is, if you are born again of the Spirit of are different. You will know you are different. But it is your responsibility to embrace the difference. God's power is in the difference, not in the similarities to the world. Jesus went against the flow of this world. As a result, He changed the world. That is what He called you and me to do.

Our world has gone crazy in these last days. Jesus said, "Because lawlessness is increased, most people's love will grow cold." (Matthew 12:24) This is so evident through all forms of news and social media. To stand up and live out loud for Jesus Christ today means your very existence screams out against the ways of the world. The Apostle Paul said, "And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect." (Romans 12:2) You are the one God has chosen to reveal God's will to the world you live in. And that happens only when you and I resist the flow of this world, and live for Him, no matter the cost!

CD58791: Revealing Jesus, CD/DVD Revealing Jesus, CD/DVD
By Darlene Zschech / Integrity Music

From the original songwriter of dozens of today's most performed songs comes a live worship project that seeks to make Christ known to all! Featuring guest appearances from Michael W. Smith, Kari Jobe, Israel Houghton and others, Revealing Jesus includes "God Is Here," "All That We Are," "Best for Me," "Victor's Crown," and more. CD/DVD edition includes audio and video of the performance, captured at the Church of the Highlands in Birmingham, Alabama.

CD77395: Tides Tides
By Bethel Music / Bethel Music

Led by Brian and Jenn Johnson, Redding, California's Bethel Music offers their first studio recording, a captivating thirteen song set of powerful worship originals. Tides adds rich layers of electronics to their lush organic instrumentation on a blend of ballads and mid-tempo tracks, including "Breaking Through," "Come Awaken Love," "Ascend," and more.