Sunday, November 21, 2010
Recently I rented a movie on the Iraq war called “The Green Zone”. I wanted to see what kind of reviews this movie got so I searched the internet. One of the reviews I found was by a division of “Focus on the Family” called “Plugged In”. I know that “Focus on the Family” would rather call “Plugged In” a Ministry, but I disagree with that classification. Let’s just call it their “Corporate Entertainment Division” or “CEP” for short. Ok, I’ll just call it by its name “Plugged In”.
As I checked their review of “The Green Zone”, an R rated movie for the obvious reasons most war movies are R rated – violence and language, I noticed that “Plugged In” reviews all kinds of movies, video games, and music. By that I mean that they review movies, music and games that are OBVIOUSLY not appropriate for Christians to watch, hear, or play. Disclaimer: I know what you are thinking, “The Green Zone” is R rated so it also is not appropriate for Christians (Me) to watch. I agree. But, it is R rated because it deals with the realities of war, not because it glorifies violence, sex, drugs & alcohol use, etc…Think about this – Did you see the “The Green Berets” with John Wayne? A good clean war movie, but did it truly reveal the realities of the Vietnam War? Don’t think so. So I believe there is a valid difference between movies that are attempting to reflect the reality of a situation (drug use, crime, war) versus movies that just glorify the same subjects for pure entertainment or exploitative purposes.
But I digress. Let me focus on the movie reviews in “Plugged In”. “Plugged In” reviews movies such as “SAW”, “The Hangover”, “American Pie”, “Friday, the Thirteen”, “The Texas Chain Saw Massacre”, to name a few. Basically, they regularly review horror movies, slash-fest movies, crude teenage comedies, sex filled movies, raunchy humor movies, action/vengeance movies, etc… Now, I can see why a believer would want to read a detailed review of a movie that they may not be certain whether it is appropriate to watch or not, such as crime dramas, war dramas, some sci-fi films, and epics such as “Braveheart”, “Robin Hood”, or “The Last of the Mohicans”. But, do we really need reviews of movies that are OBVIOUSLY inappropriate. Unlike a book, you can judge a movie by its cover, or should I say by its poster and movie trailer. Moreover, the rating system tells you exactly why the film has received the particular rating. If I see a movie poster with a barely dressed sorority girl and a psycho killer holding a bloody knife, I think it is safe to assume that it is not appropriate to watch. I don’t think I need a review telling me the “Positive Elements”; “Spiritual Content”; “Sexual Content”; “Violent Contents”; “Crude or Profane Language”; “Drug and Alcohol Content”; and “Other Negative Elements”. The movie is inappropriate for obvious reasons.
Are “believers” that naïve? Are we that Innocent? Come on, let’s stop being foolish and use common sense.
Mt 10:16 "Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.”
My main beef with “Plugged in” is the fact that by providing such a service under the guise of a “ministry” they are not helping believers make appropriate entertainment decisions, but are actually encouraging Christians to embrace the world system and accept worldly culture. A “Christian Ministry” reviewing R-rated, raunchy films, gives credibility to the argument that “Christians” are no different than the world and just conform to the world.
Romans 12:2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
The name of this “ministry” even hints to the consequences of having a “Christian organization” review such films. It unwittingly “plugs in” believers to worldly entertainment and unintentionally gives it credibility. By reviewing such films “Plugged In” is indirectly giving them legitimacy and creating “excuses” for believers to go see inappropriate films. How, you ask? Well, “Plugged In” encourages “believers” to see inappropriate films by finding “Positive Elements” and “Spiritual Content” in ALL the films that they review. At times it is just plain absurd with examples such as “Crucifixes adorn several scenes” or “One of Jennifer’s victim’s clutches rosary beads in his bloodstained hand”. What? This is positive and spiritual!?!
This in turn creates a false justification for us to go and get our fill of the lusts of the flesh and the lust of the eyes by seeing an inappropriate movie because it contains some “positive” or “spiritual” (whatever that means) aspect. Kind of like when people were finding Jesus and the Gospel all over the “The Matrix”. Heck, Christians wrote books about it and flocked to the theatres because we now had a valid justification for seeing gratuitous, glorified and stylistic violence. I can see the same happening with “Plugged In”. I can just picture it now:
“Let’s go see ‘Jonah Hex’”.
“Honey, its rated R”
“I checked in ‘Plugged In’ and it has Positive Elements such as that ‘When he shoots an antagonist who falls out of a window, …, he offers the bartender a coin to pay for damages’ ”.
“I don’t know honey; it looks very violent and full of sexual content”
“It’s not so bad, it has Spiritual Content such as a ‘mystical healing ceremony’ and the hero has the ability to ‘momentarily revive corpses with his touch’”.
“What about the barely clothed heroine, won’t you be lusting for her all throughout the film? Just like you did when you forced me to go see ‘Transformers’”
“ Uhmmm, the sexual content is not that bad, look ‘Plugged In’ states there is no explicit nudity and the girl must have some moral values, after all she ’longs for a real relationship’”
“What about the language?”
“Look, it is not so bad, ‘Plugged In’ says that they only use God’s name in vain once and Jesus name is only abused three times. They don’t even use the F-bomb.”
“They don’t use the f-bomb! Well why you didn’t say so. This is practically a family movie, let’s take the kids”
Such a conversation sounds absurd, but I am sure it happens as we now have this tool to grade how far we can take our sensibilities and how much we can get away with before we grieve the Holy Spirit. This absurdity led me to write to “Focus on the Family” expressing my discomfort at the nonsense of reviewing obviously inappropriate movies.
“I only have one question. Why do you bother reviewing horror films, films obviously filled with sexual content and crude jokes, i.e., teen flicks, adult comedies or ultra violent action films, etc... Why do you review PG-13 and R rated films that are obviously rated as such because of their improper content. It does not take rocket scientist to know the contents of a film, unlike a book you can just look at the cover or should I say previews.
What a waste of time and resources. I am truly starting to wonder whether you just use this as an excuse to watch all the filth and call it a ministry. I used to give you the benefit of the doubt, but looking at the movies you have been reviewing, calling this a ministry is just absurd. At the rate you are going you will soon be reviewing pornographic movies for their ‘spiritual content’. No wonder Dobson left." [Sorry, but had to throw that last jab in there]
In response, they forwarded me the following pre-made response:
“Thanks, [I deleted my name to avoid the hate mail] for sharing your candid feedback with us. We're glad to have the chance to get back to you.
We've heard from others who share your concern about the fact that Plugged In’s reviewers evaluate R-rated movies. To learn why we feel it’s important to do so, we encourage you to read Plugged In’s “Frequently Asked Questions” Web page.
Again, thanks for sharing your views so honestly. We hope our reply has clarified where we're coming from.
Focus on the Family”
I searched Plugged In’s “Frequently Asked Questions” Web page and found the following response:
Question: Why do you review R-rated movies? Shouldn't the rating say everything I need to know?
Answer: According to a poll of Plugged In Online readers, 70% watch R-rated movies. [Does that make it OK? I don’t care if 99% of their readers watch R rated films, there is still no need to review them]. Additionally, since many R films target teens (especially raunchy comedies and horror flicks), our reviews help families navigate this prominent area of the culture. [You mean “worldly culture?” Is not that what discernment is for?]. By reading our reviews, parents gain a clearer understanding of what Hollywood is aiming at their kids, and what their children's peers are consuming.[Parents who care for their children already know this]. Also, by having a content breakdown of R movies, parents can articulate why a particular film fails to meet the family standard.[I guess parents need advocates in order to be able tell their kids why they object to something]. Beyond observing a "label," this reinforces moral boundaries for adolescents. [I guess the R-rated sticker and the Word of God does not create a firm enough boundary, so it takes a detailed review of the film to draw the line]. A California mom alluded to this benefit when she told us, “Last weekend my son, age 16, saw a very disgusting film at a friend's home. Only after that did I find your website. [Notice she already knew the film was gross and disgusting so where is the need to review such a film]. This created a very meaningful two-hour discussion with him on values and media choices. However, the next weekend he asked to go see another R-rated film.[I guess the meaningful discussion did not go as planned] We said 'no.' [The conversation should have ended there, but because we now have “Plugged In” the son can challenge his parent’s judgment & authority and replaced it with the expert movie reviewers at “Focus on the Family’s” ]. My son then asked, 'How about if I check it out on that website Mom likes?' My husband, smiling, said, 'Sure! [They must know better than us, and our discernment, since all they do is watch inappropriate movies all day long and review them] 'A few minutes later my son emerged from the office and said, 'You guys wouldn't want me to see it.'" [Notice he did not say “I shouldn’t see it” or “it would be offensive to the Lord” he just knew that he would not be able to convince his parents, who already knew better in the first place. I don’t know about you, but this example only taught me that “Plugged In” functioned to undermine the authority of parents who already knew better].
Even with such an inspiring example [not], I would not drink their cool-aid. Sorry, but their pre-fabricated response merely reinforces my position on this issue. The fact that 70% of your readers (whom I am supposed to assume are believers) watch R rated movies does not justify the compromising of Christian beliefs and values by unnecessary reviewing such films. The fact that born-again Christians actually have a higher rate of divorce (27 %) than nonbelievers does not justify me leaving my wife. Moreover, if a parent is doing his job, they would be aware of the “raunchy comedies and horror flicks” that Hollywood uses to target teens. I mean this is no secret, just turn on your TV. Are parents really that naïve or disconnected? Their own example demonstrates that parents who care about their children’s spiritual well-being do not need “Plugged In” to tell them that “The Hills Have Eyes” contains prodigious violence or that “Jennifer’s Body” is simply a film that exploits lusting teens. Heck, the movie title alone tells you so! But hey, I guess since we live in a “modern” society where Christians adopt the world systems and are no different than unbelievers, we do need a service were a “believer” gets to [in sacrificial love] watch a bunch of inappropriate films and reviews them for us. So that we, the poor naïve Christians, are not surprised when we go see the latest R-rated action flick and the drunk anti-hero drops the F-bomb as he shots the “bad guy” in the head, while a half naked stripper dances in the background. God forbid we have to endure by such a scene when all we wanted to go see was some good, clean, R-rated entertainment.
Romans 1:32 who, knowing the righteous order of God, that those practicing such things are worthy of death, not only do them, but have pleasure in those practicing them.
Thursday, October 7, 2010
This year we had the opportunity to take the kids to Disney World. Personally, I did not have an interest in spending my vacation in a crowded amusement park, but we thought that it would be a great experience for the kids, so off we went….
While my kids, in all their innocence, loved the pixies, princesses, and rides, I basically mourned for the state of humanity. Let me not be so negative. I did enjoy some rides and truly loved the time spent together with my kids and wife. But I could not get away from thinking that a place like Disney World reflects all that is WRONG with mankind. There are several reasons why I say this but the main one is that people would rather live in a fantasy world than in reality. I am OK with kids having an imagination and being amazed at meeting an actress dressed as a princess or a big mouse. But when I started seeing adults (20 to 60+years old) jumping in excitement to meet the “fake” princess, or Mickey Mouse (a sweaty guy or gal in a heavy Mouse suit) it disgusted me. Did I mention that the vast majority of these adults did not have children with them or had 1 year old babies which have no idea of where they are at. Yep, these people actually did a 45 minute long line to get an autograph from “the Sleeping Beauty” and picture with a fairy called “thinker”. I was truly tempted to point out to the giddy 40 year old that the “fairy” was normal sized, thereby raising some real questions as to whether she really was “Thinker” from the Peter Pan FICTIONAL STORY FOR KIDS.
I saw this kind of behavior from all types of adults and it got me thinking that most people in the western world behave like this every day! We all do it! We try to escape reality every day. Do you have a TV at home? Internet? Magazines? Fictional Books? Are you a committed sports fan? Do you watch movies? Can you quote a movie by memory? Do you follow a favorite artist/musician? We all try to escape reality by immersing ourselves in an alternative fantasy world. A false “reality” created for the sole purpose of entertaining ourselves! What does entertainment do? What is the purpose of entertainment? To occupy your mind and time in order to forget about the reality called life. Entertainment works like a drug and can be defined as a distraction or diversion. Get it; entertainment is a distraction and diversion from REALITY! Disclaimer: I know sports are “real”, but unless you are employed as an athlete or work for a sports team or organization, being obsessed with a sport, team, or a particular athlete is the same as escaping reality through a fictional character or fantasy world.
How can this be bad? You might say, you go to work, do your job and get a little relaxation through your “entertainment” at home. I wish it were that simple. But the problem is deep, it is spiritual. You see the enemy does not want us to be focused on our condition as sinners in need of a savior or to be spending time reflecting on the Word of God or talking/praying to God. The enemy wants us to be distracted and diverted by the things of this world – whatever that may be in your case.
Heb 12:1 Therefore since we also are surrounded with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight and the sin which so easily besets us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, 2 looking to Jesus the Author and Finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and sat down at the right of the throne of God.
A runner does not weigh himself down before a race. As a matter of fact he slims himself down. Lightweight pants, jersey, shoes. He goes on a healthy diet, and trims himself to be as efficient as possible. Why? So he can run at his best and win the race.
1Co 9:24 Do you not know that those running in a race all run, but one receives the prize? So run, that you may obtain.
Paul describes our Christianity as a race. We are running towards a goal, which is to be with our Lord. But unlike the dedicated runner, we weight ourselves down with “stuff”. We muck up our minds with the things of this world by loading our brain with useless sport facts, pop culture and/or movie quotes. We grieve the spirit with the violent and perverted images we see and the coarse jokes and language we hear during our “entertainment” time. We dilute our awe and admiration of our Lord, by admiring and worshiping false idols, such as movie stars, musicians, fictional characters, athletes, and other entertainers. We replace the true Kingdom of God with a plastic and lifeless “Magic Kingdom.” Can we really run a good “spiritual” race when we are weighed down by all these diversions and distractions? I don’t think so.
Galatians 5:7 You were running well. Who hindered you that you do not obey the truth?
I can attest to the fact that when I close my eyes to pray, images of “entertainment” come up and fog up & distract my prayer life. I can attest that while worshiping, I am not truly worshiping because my mind drifts away to something else, and that something else is usually some form of “entertainment”. I can attest that while reading God’s Word I have been distracted and diverted by some form of “entertainment”. Why does this happen? Because my mind is filled with way more hours of “entertainment” than of Prayer, Worship, and studying the Scriptures.
Romans 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God to present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, pleasing to God, which is your reasonable service. 2And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, in order to prove by you what is that good and pleasing and perfect will of God.
Recently, I was wondering why we do not see the type of miracles that are described in the Bible. The dead come alive, the sick are instantly healed by prayer, sudden rain in a drought, etc… I think part of the reason we do not regularly see these things is because we are so consumed and so deep into our own “fantasy lives” (the pursuit of entertainment, leisure, pleasures) that we do not have the faith to move mountains. When I read accounts of missionaries who left it all (including all forms of “entertainment”) to go share the gospel in hostile lands, or even in our land, there are always accompanied by stories of miracles. Not the “they gave her medicine and she was healed” type of miracle, but the “she was dead and they prayed over her and she is now alive” type of miracle. You see, they are runners who are running without the baggage of the diversions and distractions of this world. They left the world and its “stuff” behind and are running light. They are living sacrifices, holy, not conformed to the world, preserving their mind, heart, and body for service to God. While they run all they carry is Christ, while we try to catch up carrying 200 pounds of worldly lusts in our minds and hearts. (Heck, we can now even carry an extra ton of distraction and diversion in our small hand held TV/Internet/Movie/ Music/video game playing phones.)
2Ti 4:3 For the time will be when they will not endure sound doctrine, but they will heap up teachers to themselves according to their own lusts, tickling the ear. 4 And they will turn away their ears from the truth and will be turned to myths.
While people distract and divert their need for Christ, by immersing themselves in entertainment, leisure, and pleasure, they will never feel the need for a savior. People can easily conceal God’s calling by immersing themselves into a “Magic Kingdom” where “dreams come true”. Seeking happiness, meaning, and fulfillment in a Magic Kingdom, full of plastic trees, robotic animals, false princesses, and large fairies, or in Oprah. Easily ignoring the call to enter through the narrow gate, while merging into that nice wide and comfortable highway that leads straight to hell. Why else do you think it usually requires a tragic event or a scare for people to consider God, or their lack thereof, in their lives? The “event” wakes up the person from their fantasy world of entertainment and temporarily focuses their mind and heart on the reality of life. Once their mind is firmly footed on reality, questions arise such as why am I here?; who made me?; what is my purpose?; why am I so wicked?; what happens when I die?. Basically, the realization of their need for a savior is re-awaked in their lives. Some accept their need for a savior, but sadly others ignore the need or turn back to what they have previously used to plug that need; the diversions and distractions from God and reality called entertainment. Sadly, even those who come to Christ can easily get derailed by the things of this world instead of filling their minds and hearts with the things of God. The pull of the world’s distractions is strong. They make us feel good. They are easy to obtain. They make us forget reality and provide a cheap and instant escape from the inevitable trials of life. On the other hand, Christ forces you to live in reality, to see the sinful fallen world around you, its need for a Savior, and do something about it. But just like we don’t like it when the TV ads of starving kids, disrupt our “entertainment”, we don’t like it when Christ forces us to face reality. We would rather switch the channel and immerse ourselves in a “Plastic Kingdom where all worldly dreams come true”.
1 John 2:15 Do not love the world, nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him, 16 because all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. 17 And the world passes away, and the lust of it, but he who does the will of God abides forever.
Saturday, August 28, 2010
The Old Testament tells us about valiant men. Men of Honor, who were willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for their King. Men who were completely dedicated to their Lord willing to go wherever they were sent and do whatever needed to be done.
David had such Mighty Men
1Chronicles 11:10 And these were the chief of the mighty men whom David had, making themselves strong with him in his kingdom, with all Israel to make him king, according to the word of the LORD concerning Israel.11 And this is the number of the mighty men whom David had: Jashobeam, a Hachmonite, the chief of the captains. He lifted up his spear against three hundred, who were killed by him at one time.12 And after him was Eleazar the son of Dodo, the Ahohite, he was one of the three mighty ones.13 He was with David at Pas-dammim. And there the Philistines were gathered together to battle and a portion of the field was full of barley. And the people fled from before the Philistines.14 And they set themselves in the midst of that place, and delivered it, and killed the Philistines. And the LORD saved them by a great deliverance.15 And three of the mighty captains went down to the rock to David, into the cave of Adullam. And the Philistine army camped in the Valley of the Giants.16 And David was then in the stronghold, and the Philistines garrison was then at Bethlehem.17 And David longed and said, Oh that someone would give me drink from the water of the well of Bethlehem, which was by the gate!18 And the three broke through the Philistine army and drew water out of the well of Bethlehem by the gate, and took it, and brought it to David. But David would not drink it, but poured it out to the LORD. 19 And he said, May my God forbid me to do this thing. Shall I drink the blood of these men who have put their lives in danger? For they brought it with their lives. And he was not willing to drink it. These three mighty ones did these things.
Sometimes I wonder if we still have such mighty men within our midst. I hear stories of valiant men in the Military or in Law Enforcement . Men willing to give up their lives so that others may live. But I often wonder if we still have such men outside a war zone or the mean streets. As I thought about this the Lord reminded me of three Valiant Men. Men who are not in the military or law enforcement. Normal men who have families, hold a steady job, and live a life fully committed to the Lord. Men who go where the Lord sends them to do His will, regardless of consequences. Men who should be imitated as they imitate Christ.
1Corinthians 11:1 Be imitators of me, even as I also am of Christ.
Modern Day Valiant Men
Valiant Man # 1 is a scholar who to an outsider would look fairly un-intimidating. That is until he opens his mouth and gives you a proper serving of God’s wisdom. Valiant Man # 1 has dedicated his life to study God’s word and make disciples. He has passed up several opportunities to make more money or have a more prestigious position in order to have time to love his wife, raise his children and minister to those around him. He has almost no free time as he spends every spare minute preparing himself and ministering to others. He teaches God’s word. He leads men’s groups. He counsels couples. He gives up all of himself so that others, including his family, may grow in their walk with the Lord. He is changing the world of those around him by sacrificing himself for them. He holds no title in his church, yet he is a leader of warriors for the Lord. A Mighty Man of God willing to brave enemy strongholds in order to bring disciples to his Lord.
Valiant Man #2 is a business man who works long hours and has the weight of a national company on his shoulders. He has a family, but always finds time for his brothers in Christ. He is loyal to a fault. Faithfully serving the flock, like a good Shepherd should. He is always the first in and last one out. He does not need to be told where or when there is a need, he’s already on it. He preaches more with his daily walk than a crazy street corner preacher with a megaphone. You can call him at 2:00 am on a week day and he will be there for you. You can ask him to borrow his new Pick Up truck and he will gladly hand over the keys. Even when he is handed a rotten hand he never complains, never grumbles. I have seen this Mighty Man go through a weekend with little sleep for the sake of the flock and gladly go to his regular job on Monday morning. He is the man you want at your side when the going gets tough and it hits the fan. He will roll up his sleeves and not stop until the job gets done. Serving the Lord by serving others is what drives him. Now that I think of it, he is like a good sheep dog, faithful to his Master and willing to lay down his life for his sheep. He will die by your side facing the enemy. He is the ultimate example of a servant for the Lord. A Mighty Man of God willing to sacrifice it all in order to serve his brethren.
Valiant Man # 3 has had many ups and downs in his life. A free spirit who has taken many roads. But once he found the narrow gate he became a champion for the truth, a defender of the faith. He is a compassionate man who truly cares for his fellow man. Even when tragedy struck his family he ministered to those who came to console him. He has been mistreated, hurt, pushed away, but he holds no grudges, nor seeks revenge. He trusts in his Lord and prays for those who have been unfair to him. A compassionate man, a loving man, but a man who takes a stand and holds the line when it comes to his Lord. A Mighty Man willing to open his heart, take a blow and get hurt in order to minister to those who have been hurt.
David had many Mighty Men, but three stood out from the rest. I have met many Mighty Men of God, but these three are more honorable than the others. They are not in ministry full time or work for a church. They hold no titles. They are hard working family men that spend every second of their day and all of their (little) spare time doing the Lord’s work. Discipline. Serving. Ministering.
Like David’s top Mighty Men, these men willingly disregard their wants, needs, or desire in order to serve their Master, King, and Lord. Serving their King honorably comes first, everything else is second. They put us, double-minded men, to shame.
Philippians 3:15 Let us therefore, as many as are perfect, be of this mind. And if in anything you are otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this to you.16 Yet, as to what we have already attained, let us walk in the same rule, let us mind the same thing.17 Brothers, be imitators together of me, and mark those who walk this way, for you have us for a pattern.
Like Paul, these modern day Mighty Men are examples for the flock, and are to be imitated as they imitate Christ. See 1 Peter 5:3; 1 Cor. 11:1; 1 Cor. 4:16.
Sunday, July 25, 2010
A few weeks ago two Jehovah Witnesses rang our door bell on a beautiful Saturday morning. As I walked to the door, my mind rushed with options on how to deal with this unwanted intrusion into my lazy Saturday. I could tell them that I’m not interested and drive them away. I could hide behind the door until they go away, or I could do the right thing and show them love! Well, I decided to take a different tactic and show them “tough love” by confronting them head-on about their mistaken doctrine. I had read in the past about their beliefs and I read my bible daily, so I felt confident enough to challenge them. I opened the door and let them talk for a while. I waited for the right moment to pounce and when they offered me copy of one of their watchtower publications in a self assured, ok, an arrogant, tone of voice I blurted “I believe Jesus is the Son of God and God Himself.” “How do you like them apples?” I thought in my head.
I was sure my “shock and awe” approach would leave them defenseless. I expected them to retreat, lean against the ropes, and take the punches. Or in MMA terms “tap-out”. But, instead of reeling back at my challenge they fought back. Instead of defending their faith, as I expected, they started to challenge my faith, my beliefs and my doctrine. They swiftly counter-attacked by asking me what I believe and why I believe in it. They also wanted me to provide support my responses. I mean they were looking for specifics, answers straight out of the bible, and I was not prepared for that. Even though I had studied the subject, even though I regularly read my bible, even though I am assured of my Christian faith, I was just not ready to address their inquiries in a substantial way.
As I struggled to remember bible passages that confirm the trinity and that Jesus Christ is God, I knew that I had picked a fight I was not mentally prepared to finish. I was out of shape and not prepared for such a test. The information I needed was stored in a dusty, underused compartment in my brain. I thought my previous preparation would just pop up in my head, but it just did not. (Maybe it had something to do with my arrogant attitude as there was no love in my approach.)
Athletes don’t train for a few months and then quit training because they have trained enough. Soldiers do not stop drilling for combat because they have drilled enough. Police and firemen do not stop training and preparing for emergencies because they have done it enough. Teachers and professors do not stop learning because they have learned enough. So why do we, as Christians, have a tendency of limiting our preparation, growth, training, and learning. We seem to believe that a 20 to 40 minute sermon a week, a weekly bible study and a psalm and proverb here and there, is enough to prepare us to go out and live the Christian life.
We study and prepare for years for our careers or jobs. We do extensive continuing studies and seminars for our “professional development”. We do lengthy research and in-depth studies for our hobbies or before we buy a TV, car or appliance. We memorize sport statistics and the specifications of our favorite Muscle car (a blue Mustang GT, but I digress). We can even memorize and quote whole movie scenes. But went it comes to what should be the most single important thing in our lives, and the life to come, our relationship with Jesus Christ, we do the least possible. We are happy with just getting by with a c- or a d+.
The apostles spoke on this subject and encouraged us to always be prepared, to train hard, to always be growing in our faith and to always be ready to provide an answer when it comes to issues of our faith.
1Peter 3:15 but sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and be ready always to give an answer to everyone who asks you a reason of the hope in you, with meekness and fear;
Luke commended the Church at Berea for being inquisitive, studying their bible and checking the facts.
Acts 17:10 And the brothers immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea. They, when they arrived, went into the synagogue of the Jews. 11 And these were more noble than those of Thessalonica, in that they received the Word with all readiness of mind and searched the Scriptures daily to see if those things were so.
The writer of Hebrews reprimanded believers who stayed babies and did not grown in their knowledge of the Lord.
Heb 5:12 For indeed because of the time, you ought to be teachers, you have need that one teach you again what are the first principles of the oracles of God. And you have become in need of milk, and not of solid food.13 For everyone who uses milk is unskillful in the word of righteousness, for he is an infant.14 But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, even those who because of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.
Just like an athlete that stops training will ultimately get slower and not perform at his best, so will a Christian that does not keep training, preparing and learning, he literally stops growing (maturing) in the knowledge of the Lord. Moreover, a lack of growth opens the door to attacks by false doctrines and false theologies.
Eph 4:10 He [Jesus] who descended is the same also as He who ascended up far above all heavens, that He might fill all things.11 And truly He gave some to be apostles, and some to be prophets, and some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers,12 for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ. 13 And this until we all come into the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a full-grown man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; 14 so that we no longer may be infants, tossed to and fro and carried about by every wind of doctrine, in the dishonesty of men, in cunning craftiness, to the wiles of deceit.
That Saturday morning I realized I had stopped training as diligently as I used to. Instead of running each (spiritual) mile as fast as possible, I had settled into an easy steady jog, barely breaking a sweat. It made me feel as if I was still in good shape, but when I was tested, reality stepped in and kicked me in the butt.
1Timothy 4:8 For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable to all things, having promise of the present life, and of that which is to come.
How many of us have done that? …start on fire for the Lord, read the bible, go to bible study, regularly fellowship with believers, share the gospel, and get involved in everything for the Kingdom of God, but as time goes by we slow down, we get fat and lazy, and settle for a Sunday morning sermon and the occasional bible study. We should be training every day as hard as we can so that when the trials, tribulations, and tests come we can be prepared to confront them. So that when someone asks you the reason of the hope that is in you, you can provide an answer.
That Saturday, the Jehovah Witnesses had the upper hand, they had been preparing and were ready for that moment. I was not, so I asked them to come by the following Saturday. That week I studied hard. The preparation not only helped me to provide a reason for my hope, but it also helped me solidify my faith and beliefs. It confirmed the proper doctrine as taught by the apostles, and it prepared me to be able to defend my faith.
The following Saturday, to my surprise, they came back. I invited them in and we sat down in our dinner table, opened our respective bibles and proceeded to discuss the differences between their doctrine and our doctrine. An hour later, the Jehovah Witnesses left. I do not know whether the exposition of the Word of God made any change in their view point, but the training and preparation for the discussion left me with a greater appreciation for our Lord and a deeper conviction of my faith.
Our lives in Christ is a growing process that will only end when we physically die. We are first justified through the blood of Christ, then we go into a process of sanctification. A process which takes up our whole earthly lives, i.e., we should never stop growing in our knowledge and love for Christ. And finally when we die we will be glorified in our new bodies. Therefore, while we are here on earth all we can really do is to partake in the sanctification process, moving from babies in Christ to mature defenders of the faith. Always moving forward, always prepared, and always growing in Christ.
Thursday, June 17, 2010
Last week I mentioned that the Christian believer should behave like a Samurai. This was done in the context of being fearless in the service of your Master, Jesus Christ. As Samurai served his Master with his life. The Samurai did not fear death. The only thing a true Samurai feared was to dishonor his Master. The Samurai would rather perform ritual suicide rather than dishonor his Master and thereby himself.
Like the Samurai we believers have a Master. The believer’s freedom is not a freedom to do what you like. It is not a freedom that is to be abused, or one that carries no consequences. Jesus didn’t just pay for our freedom and let us lose to run wild. He actually made a transfer of ownership. From slaves to sin, to slaves of Christ. Humans, no matter how free they think they are, all have a Master. The question is not whether you serve somebody, but who do you serve?
As Bob Dylan sang:
“…you’re gonna have to serve somebody, yes indeed
You’re gonna have to serve somebody
Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord
But you’re gonna have to serve somebody”
We are all born slaves to sin. Slaves to a cruel master.
Eph 2:1 And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, 2 in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience (satan),3 among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.
Jesus bought us out of slavery to sin at a heavy price. If you accept his payment you now belong to him, hence you should be his servant and be obedient to him as your new Master.
2Co 5:21 “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”
1Co 7:22 For he who is called in the Lord while a slave is the Lord's freedman. Likewise he who is called while free is Christ's slave. 23 You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of men.
Romans 6:16 Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one's slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness? 17 But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered.18 And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.19I speak in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves of uncleanness, and of lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves of righteousness for holiness.20 For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness.21 What fruit did you have then in the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death.22 But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life.
Since believers are not free to do what they like, but actually belong to Christ. They should be like the Samurai, fearlessly loyal to their Master. Ok, now I don’t want to rain on the parade, but put down the Katana for a minute. While we may dream and imagine ourselves as faithful Samurai fighting a spiritual battle for our Lord and Savior, the truth is that we are more like a RONIN.
A Ronin is a master-less samurai. A Samurai that due to the death of his master or after a loss of his Master’s favor or privileged is left on his own, to do as he likes. The word Ronin literally means “wave man”. A term used for a servant who flees or deserts his master’s land. Due to a lack of a Master, Ronin sought employment as mercenaries or served several lords demonstrating no loyalty. Some became robbers and thieves and others joined in uprisings against other feudal lords(Masters).
I think Christians tend to behave more like the Ronin. They may have been a loyal Samurai to his Master (Jesus), but due to the lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, they desert their Master in order to fulfill their personal desires. Thereby, Christians, can be like the Ronin, double minded, unstable in all his ways, like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind, a “wave man.”
James 1:5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. 6 But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind.7 For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord;8 he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.
It’s hard to be a Samurai, while its easy to be a Ronin. The world is tempting, we are naturally attracted to sin, and sin can even be pleasurable for a season. The world system with its nonstop propaganda machine, TV, Movies, Magazines, Music, Video Games, etc..., glamorizes the Ronin. It portrays him as a hero, a rebel without a cause, some sort of an anti-establishment freedom fighter. But it’s all lies, a Ronin is not a hero, he has no Honor, he is lawless, and he is definitely not free. The Ronin serves the worse Masters a man can have… himself, the world, and satan. He is a son of disobedience, much like we are without Christ. Without Christ we are rebels serving ourselves and our desires for pleasure. With Christ we are justified and made righteous, we are made Honorable. Not because of anything we may have done, but because of what our Master has done. His Honor is imputed on us. And like the Samurai we must defend our Master’s Honor with our lives.
So why after being justified and raised in Honor by our Master (Jesus Christ) do we rebel and become double minded, a “wave man” like the Ronin. I think it is because we lose focus. We stop looking at Jesus and start looking at ourselves, our desires, and the circumstances around us and before you know it we are drowning in storm filled seas.
Mt 14:28 And Peter answered Him and said, "Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water."29 So He said, "Come." And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus.30 But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, "Lord, save me!"31 And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, "O you of little faith, why did you doubt?"
A tale of a Samurai and a Ronin.
Judas: The Ronin
Judas Iscariot was one of the original twelve apostles. He followed Jesus through his Ministry and appeared to be a loyal servant of the Lord. The other apostles had no suspicion and no apparent reason to doubt Judas dedication and loyalty to the Lord. But at some point Judas became a Ronin, he deserted his real Master (Jesus) and sought his own agenda.
John 12:3 Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus' feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. 4 But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him, objected, 5 "Why wasn't this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year's wages." 6 He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it.
In the pursuit of his own agenda Judas became a mercenary and started to serve a counterfeit Master (satan) for monetary gain.
Luke 22:3 Then Satan entered Judas, called Iscariot, one of the Twelve. 4 And Judas went to the chief priests and the officers of the temple guard and discussed with them how he might betray Jesus. 5 They were delighted and agreed to give him money.
Judas betrayed his true Master and in realization of what he had done he could not live with himself and ended up committing suicide. Since then the name of Judas has always represented a traitor. A man willing to sacrifice his Master in order to fulfill his own desires. A man without Honor, a Ronin.
Acts 1:18 With the reward he got for his wickedness, Judas bought a field; there he fell headlong, his body burst open and all his intestines spilled out.
Paul: The Samurai
When Paul the Apostle accepted Jesus as his Lord and King he became his faithful servant. Everything Paul did or said was in order to Honor his Master. Yet, like us, Paul had to deal with temptation and our sinful nature/desires.
Rom 7:18 I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. Rom 7:19 For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do-this I keep on doing. Rom 7:20 Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. Rom 7:21 So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. Rom 7:22 For in my inner being I delight in God's law; Rom 7:23 but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. Rom 7:24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?
Unlike Judas, Paul did not give in to his wordly and fleshly desires. Paul did not dishonor or betray his Master. Instead, like a faithful Samurai, Paul looked up to his Master and in selfless service was determined to uphold his Honor.
Rom 7:25 Thanks be to God-through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God's law, but in the sinful nature a slave to the law of sin. 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.
We need to stop behaving like a Ronin and emulate the example Paul set for us. Paul set aside all he had and left behind all he was in his pursuit of faithfully serving the Lord. Paul avoided serving a counterfeit master by dying to self and keeping his eyes on his true Master. Like Paul, we should behave like a true Samurai, faithfully, selflessly, and honorably serving our Master until our last day here on Earth.
Php 3:13 Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead,14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
Monday, June 7, 2010
At Church they have been playing a song by Chris Tomlin titled “Our God”. The lyrics go like this.
Water you turned into wine
Opened the eyes of the blind
There’s no one like you
None like You
Into the darkness you shine
Out of the ashes we rise
There is no one like You
None like You
Our God is greater
Our God is stronger
God you are higher than any other
Our God is Healer
Awesome in power
Our God, Our God
and if our God is for us
then who could ever stop us
and if our God is with us
then what could stand against
As we sang this worship song I could only contemplate how God wants us to be fearless, to trust him in everything or as King David would say “The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; My God, my strength, in whom I will trust; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.” Psalm 18:2.
Being fearless is a hard thing to do because we are selfish; we have an instinct for self- preservation. So many times in order to protect ourselves be it from physical or emotional pain, we let fear rule our lives. Yet, the Word tells us that believers did not receive a spirit of bondage to fear, but received the Spirit of adoption through which we cry out to God, "Abba, Father." Romans 8:15
Our western society fears everything, from natural disasters, to weapons of mass destruction, to diseases, pain, terrorist attacks, crime, economic collapse, etc.. Not to mention the biggest fear of them all. The fear that underlines all of our fears, the big D, DEATH.
Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil,15 and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. Heb 2:14-15.
If we are Christians, truly believing that there is one God, putting our faith and trust in the redeeming Blood of his Son, Jesus Christ, and expectant of eternal life in his presence, why do we live afraid? What should we be afraid of? I believe that by being afraid and living lives full of fear, we dishonor God. As believers our fear and lack of trust make God seem weak, as if the promises in his Word can’t be trusted. Believers could stand to learn a lot from two of the greatest warriors that ever lived. King David and the Samurai!
Everyone knows that King David wrote:
The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. 2 He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters.3 He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name's sake.4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over.6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me All the days of my life; And I will dwell in the house of the LORD Forever. Psalm 23
Many believers and even unbelievers can recite Psalm 23, but do they believe it? King David did. He meant it! He faced Lions, Bears, Giants, armies, enemies within and outside his Kingdom, yet he never feared because he trusted God. David is at times portrayed as reckless. But he was not reckless, he was fearless because of three things: 1) He knew he served a mighty Master, a powerful King, the Creator of Everything, who is in control of everything. Including his destiny!; 2) David knew that as long as he served God, whatever happened, good or bad, was in his hands. That is why David could charge into battle head first, because he knew the Lord would give him the victory; 3) and if for some reason the Lord where to allow him to die in battle, David knew exactly where he would dwell for in eternity! Thereby, he did not fear death.
This lack of fear, specially the fear of death itself, allowed David to do many mighty things. He was not reckless, he was faithful and truly trusted on God’s promises. King David also wrote:
The LORD is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear? The LORD is the strength of my life; Of whom shall I be afraid? 2 When the wicked came against me To eat up my flesh, My enemies and foes, They stumbled and fell.3 Though an army may encamp against me, My heart shall not fear; Though war should rise against me, In this I will be confident.4 One thing I have desired of the LORD, That will I seek: That I may dwell in the house of the LORD All the days of my life, To behold the beauty of the LORD, And to inquire in His temple. Psalm 27:1-4
Believers could also learn a lot from the Samurai. Of course I am not talking about the spiritual nonsense they believed. But the Samurai can teach us a lot of how to serve our King and Master, Jesus Christ.
For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's. 1Co 6:20
Samurai means “To Serve”. A Samurai promised complete loyalty to his lord (usually a wealthy landowner). A Samurai would rather die, even commit suicide, before dishonoring his Master. What made a Samurai a deadly opponent was the fact that they would contemplate death regularly, to the extent that they no longer feared death. Defeat and death itself was irrelevant compared to their desire to fight with Honor on behalf of their Master. The Samurai’s concern when facing an enemy in battle was that if slain his corpse would be facing the enemy!
Like King David, the Samurai were brave because they were fearless and they were fearless because they did not fear death. Unlike King David, the Samurai’s lack of fear was based on an empty concept of dying honorably in battle. But, King David’s lack of fear was based on a substance called Faith; a substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, and the prophets, among others, were all great warriors who through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. See Hebrews 11. These heroes of faith, who lived out their faith in truly fearful times would say “The LORD is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me?” Psalm 118:6. Shouldn’t we do the same in our, comparably, insignificant trials.
Paul exhorted us to be live a fearless life, fearing nothing, including death.
…"Death is swallowed up in victory." 55 "O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?"56 The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law.57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord. 1 Corintians 15:54-58.
For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. 8 Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me (Paul) His prisoner, but share with me in the sufferings for the gospel according to the power of God,9 who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began, 10 but has now been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ, who has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel,… 2 Timothy 1:7-10.
When it comes to living out our Christianity, our faith in our Lord and Savior, the mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself a ransom for all men, we should be fearless. Give, serve, share, live fearlessly. Don’t fear the economy, don’t fear the weather, don’t fear the times, don’t fear war or rumors of war, don’t fear persecution, don’t fear ridicule, don’t fear disease, don’t fear being obedient to the Word of God in a secular world, don’t fear anything when you are in his will. After all he has defeated the biggest fear of all, death.
And who is he who will harm you if you become followers of what is good?14 But even if you should suffer for righteousness' sake, you are blessed. "And do not be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled." 1 Peter 3:13-14.
The Samurai feared one thing, not to serve his master with honor. Like the Samurai, let us fear just one thing, not serving our Master, Jesus Christ, with Honor.
Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. 29 For our God is a consuming fire. Heb 12:28-29.
Sunday, May 23, 2010
Last weekend we attended a local MMA fight. I wanted to go because several members of the Gym I train at were fighting that night. In addition, one of our trainers was fighting for a regional 155 pound title belt. While at the Fights I kept seeing T-shirts with our Gym Logo and the name of a fighter I had never heard of or even seen train in our Gym. It turns out that a local fighter had decided to make t-shirts for his “crew”, “posse”, “entourage”, whatever you want to call people who leach onto others in order to live off their fame. Not that this fighter is famous, he just decided to make himself known by printing many self promoting t-shirts. There is nothing wrong in a little self-promotion for an unknown fighter, but the problem was that even though he prominently posted the logo of our Gym on the t-shirts, he does not train at our gym. He has visited the gym infrequently, but he is not a team member by any means. And, no, he did not ask permission to use the Gym’s logo on his t-shirts.
So what is wrong with some un-requested free advertisement you may ask. In this case, a lot. First the local fighter in question lost the fight one minute into the first round via a choke. Second, after losing, in a very unsportsmanlike manner, he threw a fit and stomped off the ring, showing a lack of respect for his opponent, the ref, and the judges. Third, he had to be escorted by the police out of the venue hosting the event due to his post fight behavior. And finally, I heard that he was arrested later that night for getting rough with his wife. Not good exposure for the Gym. What made this situation particularly sad is that our Gym owner is very particular of who can fight under the Gym’s name. He only wants dedicated fighters, who train hard, are disciplined, respect the sport, are positive ambassadors for the sport/Gym, and are respectful & honorable in defeat or victory. Even though our trainer represented our Gym well by winning the 155 title belt, and being respectful and honorable in his victory, the actions of an “impostor” could have marred the reputation of our Gym.
The same is true with the Church and Christianity. The Church is full of people who appear to be Christians or claim to be Christians but their actions (fruits) are hurtful and negative to the message of Christ and Christianity. They wear the t-shirt, but are not members of the gym. There are many professing Christians who are doing more damage than good. They walk around with their “Christian” logo on their chest, while acting just like every non-believer out there in the world. For example, I just heard of a well known Christian Pop singer, Jennifer Knapp, who “came out of the closet” announcing that she is a homosexual in a lesbian relationship. She promoted Jesus, now she promotes her homosexuality. Christ changes lives. Once you accept Jesus as Lord and savior you are a New Creation, born again. Your life should reflect that change. If Jesus does not make a difference in your life, what difference does Jesus make?
2Co 5:17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.
Ro 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
Col 3:8 But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth.9 Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds;10 And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him:
“Christians” such as these stumble true believers and push non-believers away. Why should a non-believer trust in Jesus when the “believers” themselves don’t trust him. They might profess him as Lord and Savior, but they do not obey his word or his commandments. Professing Christ does not demonstrate faith or trust in him, anyone can profess Christ. Heck, even demons profess and believe that Jesus is the Christ.
Jas 2:19 Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.
Lu 4:33 And in the synagogue there was a man, which had a spirit of an unclean devil, and cried out with a loud voice, 34 Saying, Let us alone; what have we to do with thee, thou Jesus of Nazareth? art thou come to destroy us? I know thee who thou art; the Holy One of God.
Many may state that Jesus is their Lord, but very few truly trust in him. Why do you think the Church has all of the same social problems of the world system? If we were truly living as called to do by Christ, It wouldn’t. But we love the world, we covet, we desire stuff to make us feel “happy” or “good”, we disobey God’s commandments because they are too harsh, we don’t agree, or because I “deserve” it(whatever “it” is in your life), we seek the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, while saying “thank you Jesus”. Why should an unbeliever go to the Church if he is just going to find what is readily available in the World. Saying you are a Christian and wearing a Christian t-shirt does not make you a Christian. Going to Church, frequently or infrequently, does not make you a Christian. Obedience in Christ and his Word, which is shown/reflected by your actions (fruits), demonstrate that you are a Christian.
Jas 1:22 But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.
Ro 2:13 For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified.
Mt 7:21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.
Christ’s logo goes on the inside, it cannot be seen other than in its reflection through your life, your actions, your behavior, your fruits. Don’t tell me you are a Christian, show me!
Jesus wants more than a logo on your chest, he wants you. He wants to change you completely, so that you behave more like him and represent him well to the unbelieving world. Would the US Government keep an ambassador who constantly behaves like a fool and misrepresents the position of the USA? Don’t think so.
2Co 5:20 Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ's behalf, be reconciled to God.
Believers are called to represent Christ here in this World. We are ambassadors, in a sense we wear the T-Shirt with Jesus’ Logo. But, when you profess to be a Christian and behave like a worldly pagan, you are just like the fighter or ambassador I mentioned above. You are wearing the Gym’s logo without the consent of the owner (God), and every action you make reflects negatively on the Gym (Church) and those that attend the Gym (Believers). On the day of the fights, our Gym owner should have confronted the fighter and told him to take the shirts off. But in order to be “nice”, not cause an “issue” or maybe just compromise because the fighter did visit the gym every once in a while, he let it slide and it came back to bite him. Don’t we do the same in Church. We see alleged “believers” openly living in sin, encouraging politically correct ideologies that go against the Word of God, or just being a bad witness, yet we don’t say anything in order not to be judgmental, or because we don’t want to upset them, or offend them, or because we are afraid that they may leave and not come back.
God shows displeasure with those who misrepresent him and takes disciplinary action. From Moses hitting the rock in the wilderness, to the nation of Israel in it’s adultery with the world. Jesus also demonstrated his displeasure with the false prophets and false teachers who misrepresented God’s message to the people. Paul even ordered the men corrupting the Church to be thrown out.
See 1 Corinthians 5:1-13 Expel the Immoral Brother!
Tit 3:10 Reject a divisive man after the first and second admonition, 11 knowing that such a person is warped and sinning, being self-condemned.
2Ti 3:2 For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,3 unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good,4 traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power (going to Church but no believing, disobedient ). And from such people turn away!
2Th 3:6 But we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you withdraw from every brother who walks disorderly and not according to the tradition which he received from us.
2Th 3:13 But as for you, brethren, do not grow weary in doing good.14 And if anyone does not obey our word in this epistle, note that person and do not keep company with him, that he may be ashamed.15 Yet do not count him as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.
Ro 16:17 Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them.18 For those who are such do not serve our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly, and by smooth words and flattering speech deceive the hearts of the simple.19 For your obedience has become known to all. Therefore I am glad on your behalf; but I want you to be wise in what is good, and simple concerning evil.
Mt 18:15 "Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother.16 "But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that 'by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.'17 "And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector.
True believers should stand up to those who claim to follow Christ with their tongue, but deny him by their actions. They should be confronted and corrected with the truth, before they go on a rampage, stumble new believers, and push away those seeking the truth.
In other words, they should not wear the t-shirt unless they are going to do it justice!