I want to share with you some of the discrepancies that exist between Jesus and His Kingdom and the way we do things within mainstream Christianity.
1) Christ and His Kingdom is characterised by something that I would call radical new birth.This is where we receive Jesus and we are changed at the very core of our being. When I was converted, my whole life was completely re-orientated. I came into the Kingdom and Jesus took hold of me and He radically altered my life.
Once I was a guy who took drugs, drank, smoked and was sexually immoral yet the day I received Jesus I was radically converted. Overnight, changed. But we have this thing that has crept into the Body of Christ where mainstream Christianity is quite satisfied with half-hearted decisions. That we allow people to get away with making a half-hearted commitment to Christ. Where Jesus says, "Come and repent, turn around, turn your back on the way you were once living, turn around and follow me. Don't put your hands to the plough and look back, if you're making a decision to follow me, I want you to go all of the way."
Today, we have allowed this half-hearted commitment to come into the church, and what I would say has happened, is as long as you are being conformed to the cultural standards of the church, by and large, you are OK. That is, if you come along to church on a Sunday morning and you are seen to be dropping something into the offering bag and you go along to a Bible Study during the week and you've said the sinners prayer; we have allowed this thing to creep into the Church by which we say that is OK. I want to tell you that according to the Word of God, it is not OK. God is laying His adguage down upon your life and upon the Church and He's saying that what He is seeking is people that are radically converted to the core.
My wife and I are continually dealing with people who have been allowed to sneak into the Kingdom and have roots of rebellion, roots of unforgiveness, roots of selfishness, roots of pride, roots of love for the world undealt with. People have not allowed the axe to come and cut away those things in their lives and so what ends up happening, is so much effort and energy of the Body of Christ is given to those who have not had a proper Biblical conversion experience.
What God is looking for is people who will go the whole way and say, "God you come into my life. I've already made a decision but I recognise that there are roots at the very heart of my being, that I am prepared to let you come and cut away". And then, those in ministry can give their life and their energies to seeing people coming into the Kingdom rather than continually patching up people who will not go the whole way with Jesus.
When you leave the roots unresolved, and unchallenged, what ends up happening is that you can go through the motions of cultural Christianity until a crisis emerges, and when the crisis emerges, that is when the fruit of those roots comes forth. So God wants to come in and cause us to be radically changed from the very centre, the very core of our being in order that there nothing that can rear its ugly head. I'm not saying that we don't need to get counselled and all that sort of stuff, but by and large, the work of the Cross, can impact our lives at the very depth of our being so that we can get on with life, not fearing crises and problems when they emerge, but facing crises with confidence.
2) Christ in his Kingdom is characterised by Obedience.Tragically, main stream Christianity is satisfied with convenience. I will give you my definition of obedience. Obedience is an ongoing commitment to embracing the will of God totally, regardless of inconvenience or the cost. The call of God to obey is not a harsh command of a demanding God but a loving invitation to experience God's best. Let me repeat that for you, the call of God to obey is not a harsh command of a demanding God but a loving invitation to experience God's best. You cannot do anything to earn the blessing. That was provided for at Calvary. When Jesus died on the cross and paid the price for our sin, it says that God has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in Jesus Christ. So, we are not under any legalistic compulsion to do things but I want to tell you that it is obedience that builds the banks by which the blessing of God can flow into our lives.
You can't earn blessing through effort and through striving but what you can do - by obeying God's will, by yielding your life, by adjusting your life so that you conform to the pattern of the King and His Kingdom - is build banks. You build channels by which God's blessing can flow into your life. Simple yielding, simple responding to God and His Spirit, enables the blessing of God to flow to us. Whereas this thing of inconvenience, says, that if God's will happens to cross my will, God can say what He likes, but ultimately, I am the author of my destiny and I will make up my own mind. Or "I will submit to God if His will happens to come into line with my will, Yes, at that point I will obey". That is the life of conveniently bowing your knee to God when it is suitable to you. If that is so, then who is Lord?
I struggle with bringing this message because we are so used to believing that we're the ones in charge and God is at our beck and call and to make a simple statement like, Jesus wants to be Lord of your life, I feel like its an intimidating thing. What has happened to the Church when to make the simple statement, 'Obey God regardless of the inconvenience or price' I feel like it is going to threaten believers.
To say to you, "You need to conform your life and submit to the will of God regardless of the cost" I have this fear in the back of my mind, that there are people who won't like that and so they will go off to some other place where that challenge won't come forth. Now that is part of my insecurity, but I believe this subtle thing has crept into the Body of mainstream Christianity today where there is this underlying current of, "Please don't challenge me, please don't ask me to submit my will to the will of God".
What we need to do is take hold of the will of God because embracing the will of God in its totality will bring blessing to your life. That is what you are looking for. In the place of inconvenience, there is no blessing. That is the most amazing thing. In the place of you doing your own thing there is no blessing but in the place of saying, "God, I bow my knee, I submit myself to you, whatever you say, I will do", that is the place where the blessing flows.
Go To Part 3
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Unless otherwise stated, all scriptures quoted in these articles are from the New International Version of the Bible, © New York International Bible Society, used by permission. Other versions referred to are: KJV (King James Version), NKJB (New King James Bible), TLB (The Living Bible), Amp (The Amplified Bible) and The Message. All versions used by permission.
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