When I wrote about breaking church over a year ago, I couldn’t have imagined what that would look like. Welcome to the new normal in a land of lockdowns and social distancing. Our church is now streaming over the internet every Sunday and Thursday. The cool thing for me, is I now get to invite my friends who don’t live here to join us on Sunday. Also, Sunday is recorded and available the rest of the week, so if you miss it live streaming, you can catch service later. For the longest time our church has been opposed to live streaming of service. We have recorded audio for several years… but video was not an option. Our pastor reasoned that God specifically gave him input (sermons) for our local congregation and therefore it wasn’t for the world to criticize and pick apart. It’s hard to imagine people picking apart and criticizing sermons, and yet, go on youtube and check out all the videos criticizing and calling out every sermon/pastor/preacher/church/believer/denomination/non-denomination/pre-trib/post-trib/mid-trib/with instruments/without instruments… the list of Christian on Christian criticism goes ever on! I can’t believe people have nothing better to do than to point out all the perceived flaws in other people. Kinda reminds me of a quote in red I heard once: Matthew 7:3-5 “How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye?”
For every belief, there is a critic and for every believer, there is seemingly a critic. I have found over the years that there may be several critics, and sometimes they join forces in an attempt to really let you have it. The internet is rife with people who want to steal the joy of other people, who want to put out the fire of others. The reason I do not allow unmoderated comments on this site is because I don’t want spam in the comments, and I don’t want to listen to someone lambast my personal experience. As I figure it, please get your own blog and share your viewpoint with the world. God is doing a work in me, as he is in everyone who chooses him (Jesus). It is God’s heart that none will perish… He made a way for that to be true, and we get to choose. In Deuteronomy Moses advises the people that there are two ways they can go, they can choose the way of blessing or cursing, life or death. Moses admonished them to choose life. Arguing about who can and can’t choose life is not pointing the way to Jesus.
We are called to create disciples not make followers of teachers. I am reminded of Paul in Philippians 3:4-8 which ends in ’Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.’ Once one enters into true discipleship, the Holy Spirit becomes our comforter and teacher. I can rely on Jesus himself to answer my Biblical questions. We are referred to as ‘friends of God’ and ‘beloved’. Wouldn’t our best friend answer our questions? Of course God can and will if he is sought. Sometimes, admittedly, I don’t like the answers because the answers show me where a part of the self-made man is hiding out in my life, or a nook & cranny where sin might be trying to get a foothold. But Christ did say of us disciples that we needed to pick up our cross daily and follow him. Jesus died a rather quick death on the cross compared to the criminals who were crucified along side him. The cross is a one way ticket to death – and for this discussion, the death we are talking about is to ourselves. The cross is painful and it takes a while to finally pass on (die). It is agonizing pain and having our flesh killed is inherently painful. I don’t know why so many Christians think our lives are all roses, ponies and rainbows. Jesus promised we would have suffering. 2 Timothy 2:10-13 says:
“So I am willing to endure anything if it will bring salvation and eternal glory in Christ Jesus to those God has chosen.
This is a trustworthy saying:
If we die with him,
we will also live with him.
If we endure hardship,
we will reign with him.
If we deny him,
he will deny us.
If we are unfaithful,
he remains faithful,
for he cannot deny who he is.”
We serve the God of love who gave everything to bring us into his presence forever. Real love looks like exactly what Paul wrote to the Corinthian church in 1 Corinthians 13 4-7:
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
I realize this post is all over the place, but I literally had to get something new up today. The time of our Lords return draws near. Jesus is coming back. He will return to us in the clouds – so keep your eyes up and stay alert. Keep your eyes firmly fixed on Him and he will make your paths straight. God is with us. It’s time to tell others the truth. It’s time to shine. It’s time to truly die to ourselves and come alive in Christ. I know there are a few of you out there that need to be encouraged. Don’t fear, for there is no fear in love: perfect love casts out fear. Pray. Listen. Ask, Seek, Knock. Jesus will answer, be found and open unto you.
Until we meet again, in this life or the next.