For several years I directed a missions organization that partnered with ministries around the world working to reach people with the love of Christ. Many were reaching out to impoverished communities and trying to improve the lives of the poor with diverse methods and varying levels of success. I learned a lot during those years and spent hours brainstorming about the most effective way to help the materially poor.Why does it seem that poverty is such an endless cycle for some people? Why does the man I help one week need to keep asking me for money month after month? When I give a needy person something, am I really helping them in a time of need? Or, am I simply enabling and encouraging the poor life choices that brought them to this point?
One of my biggest areas of concern is that churches are losing young people to the world. The numbers are pretty alarming. Barna found that about six out of ten young people who grow up in church leave as young adults. I’m not going to spend much time on that here. If you’re interested you can watch this message on why I think young people are abandoning the church below. What caught my attention tonight was an interview with Louie Giglio on the Christian Post. Giglio contends that young people are not necessarily leaving the church in droves, they are simply moving to new churches that “don’t hit the radar” of the surveys. His reasoning? He sees large events in arenas around the world filled with young people for Passion events, so Christianity must be gaining ground with this demographic.
Mark 10:2-3 (NLT)Some Pharisees came and tried to trap him with this question: “Should a man be allowed to divorce his wife?” Jesus answered them with a question: “What did Moses say in the law about divorce?”Matthew 17:24-25 (NLT)On their arrival in Capernaum, the collectors of the Temple tax came to Peter and asked him, “Doesn’t your teacher pay the Temple tax?” “Yes, he does,” Peter replied. Then he went into the house. But before he had a chance to speak, Jesus asked him, “What do you think, Peter? Do kings tax their own people or the people they have conquered?”
2 Timothy 2:23-26 (NLT)Again I say, don’t get involved in foolish, ignorant arguments that only start fights. A servant of the Lord must not quarrel but must be kind to everyone, be able to teach, and be patient with difficult people. Gently instruct those who oppose the truth. Perhaps God will change those people’s hearts, and they will learn the truth. Then they will come to their senses and escape from the devil’s trap. For they have been held captive by him to do whatever he wants.
How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness, who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, “Your God reigns.” - Isaiah 52:7 (ESV)
Did you know that the word “disciple” does not simply refer to a follower of Jesus? It carries the idea of “student” or “learner.” Certainly a disciple is one who follows Christ, but not merely in a locational or positional way. A disciple of Christ is one who sits at His feet and learns from Him and His other disciples. In Luke 10:39, Martha sits at Jesus’ feet and learns from His teaching. Meanwhile, Martha is distracted by the task at hand, preparing a large dinner. Martha approaches Jesus to ask that He instruct Mary to help with the work. Jesus gently and lovingly rebukes Martha, affirming that Mary has pursued the better thing: learning from Jesus. We need to take time to learn from Jesus through His word. At the same time, we should be learning from His disciples who are tasked with training future generations. In Matthew 28:20, Jesus commands His disciples to make new disciples and teach them what He taught. So not only is learning from Jesus a biblical principle, but so is learning from His disciples. There are many godly disciples who have written down their teaching so others can learn from them. The holiday season is usually spent with family and friends. While we rejoice that Jesus came to earth and paid for our salvation, we must not forget to sit at His feet, and learn from Him and His disciples.
This Sunday I'm preaching a message called "Authentic." We'll examine the problems with hypocritical believers who wear masks of "super pseudo spirituality" and look at what it means to be an authentic Christian. In the course of studying for this sermon, I discovered a test written by Kevin McConaghy which I have adapted and expanded upon below. Give it a shot and see how you stack up!This all started with a group called United in Purpose that collects data about millions of US consumers and uses a points system to identify those likely to be Christians. An NPR story reports that a score of over 600 means you are likely a believer. Points are awarded for things like attending church, homeschooling, being on anti-abortion mailing lists, and liking NASCAR.Of course, the test below is purely satire. For a good study on what it means to be an authentic Christian, read 1 John 1-5 and Revelation 2-3. You'll see positive and negative examples that help us to see what it means to "walk in the light" and be a light in a dark world. Also read John 17 while you're at it for an understanding of what it means to be in the world but not of the world. Jesus says His disciples are to shine as lights in the dark world into which He is sending them.
In case it isn't 100% clear, this is satire, and should not be taken seriously. For a good understanding of Christianity and having an authentic walk with Christ, read the book of 1 John then go through Philippians. Both are full of wonderful insights and examples!
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