Christian (part one)

Christian (part one)

Just put “Christian” in any search engine and you will end up with information overload! The good, the bad, and the ugly! Hit pieces, glorified pieces, historically flawed and accurate pieces, endless, endless information. What to believe? How can one tell? What is true and what is false? As i add yet one more piece to the web of information, i hope to at least shed light on how one can honestly tell truth from fiction. Our key text for this series is Romans 12:9-21. There will be plenty of supplemental scriptures as well as written works to look at as we travel this question together, Christian?

Let’s begin with the dictionary definition of Christian.

as an adjective

  1. of, relating to, or derived from Jesus Christ or His teachings: a Christian faith.
  2. of, pertaining to, believing in, or belonging to the religion based on the teachings of Jesus Christ: Spain is a Christian country.
  3. of or relating to Christians: many Christian deaths in the Crusades.

as a noun

  1. a person who believes in Jesus Christ; adherent of Christianity.
  2. a person who exemplifies in his or her life the teachings of Christ: He died like a true Christian.

The actual definition of “Christ’ian” is little Christ. It was mainly a derogatory term in its early form. Early names for believers in Christ were, Disciples, referred to as people of “the way” or Disciples [Students] of Jesus. As there were many teachers who had disciples. What was the distinguishing mark of the early Church (the body of Christ)? In Acts 2 we read, “And they [the Church] devoted themselves to the apostles teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need.” The signs of the early believers were evident in their daily life. Although, it quickly became watered down and tainted by false teachers and time. It is what we face today.

So now here we are, Disciples, of Jesus, People of the Way, the Church, 2000 years from its formation and struggling to define ourselves in a sea of “Christians”. How might we tell true believers from those who claim the title “Christian”? We read in Galatians 5, “But the fruit of the Spirit [the indwelling presence of Jesus] is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control . . .”  Which brings us to our Romans 12 passage.

9″Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good.” We won’t get any further than this today. First, true Christians love is genuine. It’s real, it’s from deep within, it’s Jesus centered because we are really incapable of genuine love in and of ourselves. The “genuineness” of our love comes only from the Holy Spirit dwelling in us. Second, a true Christian abhors evil. That’s right abhors, which is to say, “regard with disgust and hatred”. That is powerful and yet how many of us, for the sake of tolerance, tolerate sin? Whether it is in our own lives or those around us, within the Church even? i get the need for grace, mercy, etc . . . however, not at the expense of the soul! We are to ABHOR what is evil. Third and finally for today, a true Christain “hold[s] fast to what is good.” That is to say, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” (Philippians 4:8)

Let us have a genuine love for everyone, all people, everywhere. May we live from a heart of compassion. Let us abhor what is evil, there should be no tolerance for wickedness. That is clear. How we deal with it will speak volumes however of our “True Christianity.” Finally, let us hold fast to what is good. Fellowship with one another, strengthen one another, lean on and support one another in the Body of Christ that others will see our community and desire to be apart.

You are loved,

cj

Jude (Part 1)

Jude (Part 1)

Let me start here: if you have not read Jude (an introduction), stop now and go read it . . . it will make more sense that way. However, as a reminder to those who did read it let me refresh your memory. Jude is one of four brothers of Jesus and at some point led the Church in Jerusalem. He came to faith after Jesus’ resurrection. This same Jude then pens this letter and it is powerful! As a call to repentance, as a reminder of judgment, and as a warning to stay alert as we contend for the faith.

He doesn’t waste time with small talk, antidotes, or gibber, he is very matter-of-fact. In the verses, we will look at this week, we will see his heart, and his understanding as the brother of Jesus and leader of the Church. Let’s look at verse 5, “Now I desire to remind you, though you know all things once for all, that the Lord, after saving a people out of the land of Egypt, subsequently destroyed those who did not believe.” Here is an interesting point, there are a couple manuscripts out there as well as a few versions of the Bible that use “Jesus” in place of “the Lord”. Could these early manuscripts be more accurate to Jude’s point? i think so. Jude had come to an understanding of who Jesus was and was not ashamed of it.

We love grace, i love grace. We preach grace, i preach grace, and it is glorious! However, we mustn’t lose sight of Jesus. Jesus, actively a part of the Old Testament, who is the same yesterday, today and forever, saves us by His cross. He leads us free from the chains of sin, out of bondage and into freedom. As the Israelites out of Egypt and still, subsequently (lit. the second time) He destroys those who did not believe. Folks, there is judgment. There is a hell and it has been preached since the formation of the Church. Do not be led astray. We must continue to contend for the faith in a world that would pervert the grace of God, even some in the Church.

Now I desire to remind you, though you know all things once for all, that [e]the Lord, after saving a people out of the land of Egypt, [f]subsequently destroyed those who did not believe. And angels who did not keep their own domain, but abandoned their proper abode, He has kept in eternal bonds under darkness for the judgment of the great day, just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities around them, since they in the same way as these indulged in gross immorality and went after [g]strange flesh, are exhibited as an [h]example in undergoing the punishment of eternal fire. (NASB)

Now I want to remind you, although you once fully knew it, that Jesus, who saved[c] a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe. And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day— just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire,[d] serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire. (ESV)

Pray with me for insight, for understanding, for fresh revelation into God’s Word. Let the Spirit of God speak to our hearts through these words written by Jude inspired by the Spirit. May we grow in wisdom and faith, as we seek to walk humbly with Jesus, contending for the faith. Until next week . . .

you are loved,

cj

Praise the Lord!

Praise the Lord!

The shortest chapter in the Bible is Psalm 117, it is just two verses. Yet these two verses are immensely profound in their simplicity. You want to boil things down to the minimum and just look at the core of human existence? Then here you go:

“Praise the Lord, all you nations! Worship Him, all you peoples! Because God’s faithful love towards us is strong, the Lord’s faithfulness lasts forever! Praise the Lord!”

It doesn’t get much simpler than this, Praise the Lord. Worship Him. Because, He is faithful. His love is strong towards us and He is forever faithful. Thus, we should, Praise the Lord! No matter what you are facing, no matter what difficulties or trials befall you, Praise the Lord! In the good and in the bad, Praise the Lord! In the sun and in the rain, Praise the Lord! In life and in death, Praise the Lord! In sickness and in health, Praise the Lord! In the hardest of times and in the best of times, Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord!

Praise the Lord,

you are loved,

cj

Speak what is true…

Speak what is true…

Often there are things that happen that i sit back and scratch my head wondering, what did i just actually witness?! Baffling at times are the behaviors, choices, made by people in day to day living. All of which make me question humanity.  To often the Churches response is one of two extremes, total grace or total damnation.

As i type this i am inspired by the lyrics in a Crowder song, “Here’s My Heart”. The line that i am on is, “Here’s my heart Lord….speak what is true”  My mind and heart has been preparing for the shift, from our year long journey through Acts, to our next stop, Colossians.  Paul, speaking truth about the simplicity of Jesus.  It’s the same truth that Jesus spoke often to those He came in contact with, (paraphrasing) “I love you now, go and sin no more”.

The grace and freedom that Jesus taught, Paul speaks of, a heart  marked by a transformed life…In Chapter 3:5-8 we read;

So put to death the parts of your life that belong to the earth, such as sexual immorality, moral corruption, lust, evil, desire, and greed (which is idolatry).  The wrath of God is coming upon disobedient people because of these things. You used to live this way, when you were alive to these things But now….

There is a mark of grace we receive, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against things like this. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified self with its passions and its desires. If we live by the Spirit, let’s follow the Spirit.” Galatians 5:22-25

Here’s my heart Lord, speak what is true….

You are loved,

cj