Tuesday, December 4, 2007
When you've been hurt by the church!
You go to church thinking all is well. You picked this particular church because either you knew someone who attended there, it was close to where you live, it was the denomination you grew up in, or you have heard great things about the pastor and the youth program. You are excited to be a part of such a loving family of believers. You eat up everything they offer to you. You go to all of the sunday school classes, you volunteer your time with the youth, you go to every Bible study they have and you sit in church drinking your coffee while the pastor gives his sermon and you feel as though you are on top of the world. You feel good when you leave church. Everyone tells you to have a nice day and they will see you next week.
That was me! And it quite possibly is you too. Sounds good, doesn't it? The only problem is, you have this inner sense of not being fulfilled. Something is missing. You don't feel any different than you did before you came to church. You hear Scripture being read. You hear great stories that "really relate" to your life. You hear the story of the "pig with the wooden leg" and you know that it just has to go with the Scripture that is being read. And you are right. The sermon title is: "Are you walking around with a "wooden leg?"
You go home that day from church and you can completely remember the joke about the pig with the wooden leg. But what was the sermon about? What was that Scripture that was read this morning? It had something to do with being persecuted as a Christian. From all of the people I have talked to in my church (pastor included), none of them had ever really been persecuted as a Christian. Is that just because we live in America (the land of the free?). I would rather think it has more to do with the fact that we as Christians are not doing anything that bothers Satan. We have become so comfortable in church. Let's take our lawn chairs, some pepsi and potato chips and let's listen to what the pastor has to say today. When the sermon is over, let's pack everything up and go home and watch tv. See you next week Pastor!
How long have you gone to church like this? I went for years. Hey, I ever was a pastor and held services like this for 5 years! You know, it has to do with entertaining the people, (just like I learned from watching Willow Creek Church services!), it had to do with telling stories so that people would see they needed to have a purpose in their life (just like Saddleback Church). I wanted to have a church service like everyone else was having. After all, that is what the people wanted at this particular church. As far as the last church I attended, that is what they want there too.
But something happens. You come across something that totally changes your life. For me, it was coming across Way of the Master. It changed my life. No longer do I just "go" to church, but I truly want to hear God's Word being taught "word by word." I want to not only say WWJD? But rather, I want to know what "did" Jesus do?! The first one wwjd, has to do with trying to interpret what you think Jesus would do in a given situation. The second one, wdjd, is something you can validate by reading God's Word. You can open the bible up and see exactly what Jesus did do! That is a much better way of doing things, it takes all error out of the equation. Anyway, as a newly saved person, I flooded myself with God's Word. The difference this time is this ---
I WAS OBEDIENT!
I had never been taught that I had to be obedient to God's Word. I heard a lot of feel good stories, I heard a lot of jokes (I can still remember many many of them!!) but I never was told that I had to repent of my lustful thoughts, of my lying, thieving ways. I always just figured all I had to do was just say, "sorry God, please forgive me." And I would go on my merry way. Off to commit the very same sins day in and day out!
You will be amazed by this but when a Christian decides to become obedient to God's Word, you can bet that he or she will finally see persecution. Unfortunately it will come from the least likely source. Many times it comes straight from your church family. They start to look down at you like, "who do you think you are to become so self-righteous?" I myself, had not become self-righteous, I became humbled by my total depravity. I finally "got it!" Jesus died on the cross for me. Not just because I was a "sinner," but because I was a totally depraved man so deep into sin, a breaker of all of God's Commands, and definitely not worthy to enter into heaven based on anything that I could do myself.
See, when you become obedient to God's Word, you realize that you need to truly repent of your sins. You can't just go through the motions of being a Christian. You have to actually die to self and pick up your cross and follow Jesus. Where will He lead you (many people will say we don't know but we will follow anyway). I tell you I know where He will lead you -- STRAIGHT TO HEAVEN! He will guide you along that narrow road that few will find.
PERSECUTION -- WHAT NOW?
So what do you do when the church brands you as "one of those 'super' Christians?" Someone who feels they have attained such a high level of godliness that no one can relate to them. Here is your answer...
You do what God's Word tells you to do. Be loving, display the fruits of the Spirit, thanksgiving, repentance, love, long-suffering, patiences, etc. You do what the Word tells you to do...
You get out and reach the lost for Christ. You evangelize to people. 150,000 people are dying each and every day, the time is now! Get out of your chair. How many of you reading this right now, spend more than an hour at the computer and don't spend a single minute out trying to reach the lost the way Jesus did? How many of you spend hours watching TV, but don't spend a second, being a Good Samaritan to someone by pointing them to the cross? I have personally witnessed to over 300 people this year and that just seems like such a small number to me. And that was after going YEARS without witnessing to a single person! I am not talking about inviting people to church, no, it is presenting God's Law to them then following it up with the wonderful grace of God! Just one person per day (not one person per month as some pastors goals would indicate!), and it is not enough. I do not want anyone, regardless of who they are to go to hell.
So, what do you do when the church has hurt you? Do what Jesus did...
Honor thy Father in heaven! Go into all the world preaching the gospel to every creature. Can you do just one person per day? Try it! Once you get in the habit of doing it daily, you will want to increase the number. Will evangelizing the lost get you saved? No! Will it make God smile?
Yes! Give Him the glory in everything you do. Praise His wonderful name. We are here to glorify Him and for His good pleasure. Let's bring people to Christ, regardless of what members of your own church are saying about you. Be faithful and don't give up! And if you want to hear the pig joke, just send me an email!!