The Lord is telling us, “It’s not enough for you to be a caring, giving, diligent servant who grieves over sin and preaches truth. It’s not enough for you to uphold moral standards, endure suffering for My sake, or even be burned at the stake for your faith. This is all part of taking up My cross.
"You can do all these things in My name, but if your affection for Me does not increase in the process of doing them, if I am not becoming more and more the one great delight of your heart, then you have left your first love. If your affection for Me is no longer a matter of great concern to you, then I have something against you.""
Earlier today I shared briefly with grief I have had in my heart. The article itself would have made a poor sermon, though. As Tolkien once put it through the character of Bilbo Hobbit: “books ought to have good endings.” We could probably apply the same ‘principle’ to sermons or other textual or spoken forms, more or less homiletic in character. For what more than a disgruntled lament would any sermon, article or speech be if it did not offer hope, a solution and a cry for change? Therefore immediately after publishing my article I decided to write a sequel as soon as possible.
Again, I do not dare to claim to offer a perfect and detailed solution, nor do I intend to. Moreover, I doubt that it is possible to offer a detailed solution befitting every Christian who hungers for more. What I can do, though, is to share with a solution that certainly seems fitting to me and many more, however general or ordinary it might seem.
I wrote that we see too much of seen, too little of unseen and we covet what we see. Apostle Paul - I believe no one will argue with me on this - was a man of no compromise. A true hero and giant of faith. He wrote: …for we walk by faith, not by sight. (II Corinthians 5:7)
Clearly, he did not fall for the temptation of seen and temporal, because he walked by faith, that is the conviction of things not seen. We need little faith to acknowledge or lust after things that are seen. However, if we are to strive after things yet unseen, we are in desperate need of it. Now faith is a gift of God that comes from hearing of God’s Word.
How to end this deadly game of compromises? I suggest shutting our eyes and ears to Satan’s garbage, setting apart from this World and opening our hearts to what God has to say. In practical terms, turn the TV off, open your Bible. Pray instead of idling. Read books written by godly men and listen to music worshipping God rather than reading and listening to just about anything. Go to your church instead of clubs or shopping centers. Be extremely careful and picky in your choice of friends and things that feed your soul.
And I daresay your faith will grow ever stronger and you will fall in love with imperishable things yet unseen instead of things seen and perishing. Last but not least, you will be ever less willing to accept any compromise offered by the Temptor. And the result of such attitude? “And he (Jesus) returned in the power of the Spirit…” (Luke 4:14)
We have heard many opinions, insights and truths on today’s washed-out Christianity. We keep waiting and praying for awakening, we cry before the Lord and we fast. Yet, it seems that Christianity is lacking its power in the West. Of course, we understand it is not Christianity itself, but its professors who has the problem.
I have no time to think too deeply here and now. But as I observe my own life and lives of others, either with the help of [a]social networks or in person, I am starting to doubt there is much need in searching for a deeper or more complicated resolution to the problem than this:
Christians of the West constantly and perseveringly make compromises these days.
I see Christians watching movies that profit none. I see Christians listening to music worshipping [wo]men - or worse. I see Christians reading articles on the Internet written by persons called fools by the Bible. In short, I see Christians feeding their souls and hearts with things that - from eternity’s view - are junk. Even worse, I see Christians worshipping things that - from God’s view - are abominable and rubbish.
Small wonder than, that it is culture (or ‘the World’, if you like) that impacts Christianity, slowly changing it to its own likeness, instead of us impacting the culture and getting the World saved.
As of why do western Christians compromise, I can only say that we see
and we covet what we see.
When our lord Jesus Christ, whose name we bear, had been filled (or baptized, we may say) by the Holy Spirit, the Spirit led Him to the desert. There the Temptor came to Him and offered Him all seen goods in change of what was unseen. Refusing the offers, Jesus withstood the test. The result was that He left the desert full of the power of the Spirit.
See, that is exactly what we lack. The power of the Spirit. Why? Because we compromise. Unlike our Lord. Satan knows that we would at first refuse an offer too audacious, so he offers compromise. If he can’t kill us straight away, he first tries to get us rid of the power of God.
Instead of porn, he offers us romantic movies. Instead of occultism, he offers Harry Potter or Twilight. Instead of all the riches of the world he offers us some silly little thing to lust about or covet. Instead of downright rebellion against God he offers us negligence of God. And we take it all.
May God have mercy on us!
"Sometimes I wonder how God ever could have looked down on us and loved us. We are so unlovable, so mean sometimes, so unworthy. But in His mercy He says to each of us, “I want you, I choose you, because I want to be a Father to you!"
I wanted to share several great sites every Christian, seeker or even a sceptic can benefit from:
*update: i’ll update the list time to time O:-)
(in no particular order)
I’ll Be Honest, http://illbehonest.com/
HeartCry Ministries, http://www.heartcrymissionary.com/ (Especially the ‘resources’ section.)
The Gospel Coalition, http://thegospelcoalition.org/
The Resurgence, http://theresurgence.com/
Bible.cc, http://bible.cc/ (A great interlinear Bible feature.)
Alright, to be honest, not everything on these sites is a 100% guarantee of goodness, yet, if you cut the Internet down to these (and maybe some Twitter, tumblr ;) ), life would be much more jolly.
Oh, and please, if you’re a calvinist, or another kind of reformed Christian, don’t say pentecostals got it all wrong. The same goes for a pentecostal. We have much more in common than we do not and the main and core thing there is: we preach the cross, we preach Christ and the Trinity, we preach repentance and life of holiness, we preach the whole Bible.
When Paul describes the sins of his own people in Romans 2:24, the climax of the indictment is this: “The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.” What makes sin sin is not first that it hurts people, but that it blasphemes God. This is the ultimate evil and the ultimate outrage in the universe.
The glory of God is not honored.
The holiness of God is not reverenced.
The greatness of God is not admired.
The power of God is not praised.
The truth of God is not sought.
The wisdom of God is not esteemed.
The beauty of God is not treasured.
The goodness of God is not savored.
The faithfulness of God is not trusted.
The promises of God are not relied upon.
The commandments of God are not obeyed.
The justice of God is not respected.
The wrath of God is not feared.
The grace of God is not cherished.
The presence of God is not prized.
The person of God is not loved.
The infinite, all-glorious Creator of the universe, by whom and for whom all things exist (Rom. 11:36) – who holds every person’s life in being at every moment (Acts 17:25) – is disregarded, disbelieved, disobeyed, and dishonored by everybody in the world. That is the ultimate outrage of the universe.
~ John Piper
And this is the writing that was inscribed: Mene, Mene, Tekel, and Parsin. This is the interpretation of the matter: Mene, God has numbered the days of your kingdom and brought it to an end; Tekel, you have been weighed in the balances and found wanting; Peres, your kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians.
~ Daniel 5:24-28
Society and morals in present age are very similar to those of Rome before its infamous fall. And they were similar to those of Babylon in days of Belshazzar king. History tends to be very repetitive:
What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun.
~ Ecclestiastes 1:9
And so we can see that this spirit of Babylon always starts to show itself when people become more and more immoral. Incredible amount of earthly riches, incredible arrogance, incredible immorality. All of these happened in Babylon’s final days. All of these happened in Rome in its final and not-so-glorious days:
What has become of those laws which checked extravagance and ostentation? those which ordered that not more than a hundred pence should be allowed for a dinner, that not more than one fowl and that not specially fattened should be served, which removed a patrician from the senate, because he had ten pounds weight of wrought silver, on the ground that this was a notable proof of ostentation, which proceeded at once to destroy theatres as they rose for the corruption of morals, which did not allow the badges of office or noble birth to be employed lightly or with impunity? (I ask these questions) for I see dinners, which can only be called centuries from the 100,000 sesterces they cost, and whole mines of silver worked out into plates, a small thing if they were the property of senators only and not of freedmen or of those who are still liable to be flogged. I see too that one theatre, or a theatre open to the sky, is not enough for each town; for doubtless it was to prevent their immodest pleasure from being too cold in winter, that the Spartans first invented their cloak for the sports. I see too that there is no difference left between the dress of matrons and that of prostitutes.
~ Apologeticum, Tertullian
And we see that God, after a time, weighted Rome and saw it wanting, unworthy, lacking. It was destroyed.
We should wary. “Mene, Mene, Tekel and Parsin!” This is a warning, a message God is now speaking to this morally depraved, ungodly world! He is coming again, Christians! And when He comes, will He find us holy or wanting?
"…Let the evildoer still do evil, and the filthy still be filthy, and the righteous still do right, and the holy still be holy. Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay everyone for what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.”
~ Revelation 22:11-13
A Roman lawyer who converted to Christianity, Tertullian, once wrote:
Should man dislike a god, he will no longer remain a god and man has to plead for his favor no more.
Very true. But we, Christians, don’t take part in this heathen game. Our God is the Alpha and the Omega. The One who was, who is, who will be and who is coming. Our God does not change. Three and yet One. It matters not whether there will or will not be anyone praising him. He will always be God, as he has always been.
But do not be deceived! If we shall not praise his Name, who will? It is written the rocks will! And “I ain’t gonna let no rock outpraise me”!