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.