As we enter the month of May, I sat here thinking about what to share. There are always things that go through your mind on what would be encouraging, challenging, or uplifting.
So I decided to share a few random thoughts about our world, the Christian faith, and, well, whatever else comes to mind as I write.
I regularly get emails from organizations whose focus is on reaching out to the persecuted church around the world. Christians in many nations are suffering greatly for their faith. An example of that is seen in the recent bombings in Sri Lanka where not only Christians, but people who happened to be out for the day, were killed. The number of deaths and injuries is staggering.
In places like Nigeria, China, North Korea, Pakistan and Iran, Christians are under incredible pressure and many have paid for their faith by being killed. Yet, in spite of all the things happening that break the heart of God and fellow believers, the Christian faith is growing in so many places around the world.
Even in some countries that have increased pressure on Christians, like China, for example, the Christian church is exploding. This is God at work in the midst of challenging situations.
It also makes me stop and think about my own faith and relationship with God. I mean, I have it pretty good here in America. I can go to church, teach the Bible, and at least at this point, not have to worry about being thrown in prison or shut down by the government.
Sadly, there are attacks happening in our country on fellow believers, but they are not a systematic attempt to drive us out, per se. Culture and society has obviously raised up against moral absolutes with agendas that are, at their core, destructive, and Christians need to stand up and speak out against these things.
I do think Christianity is purposely, by many, being pushed to the borderland of society, or at least the attempt is being made to do so.
With this in mind, I had to stop and think about what I believe and what that belief has done to make a difference in my life. Let me explain what I mean.
I think that there are those in the Christian community who treat their faith like a consumer. In some instances, they jump from church to church looking for the next great thing, or trying to find that elusive “perfect church.”
They treat Christianity like a spiritual buffet, picking and choosing what they want to hear and believe. They treat being involved in the body of Christ as a hobby, not as a part of being a Christian. Sometimes they want a God of convenience, One Who is there when they need Him but when they are doing well, or don’t need something, well, not so much.
The Christians in the early church, and many throughout history, including a number that I know today, don’t have this approach to Christianity. They take their faith seriously. This does not mean that they do not enjoy life, because I think Christians should be the ones smiling and full of joy because of what Jesus has done in their life. After all, Christ came to give us life in an abundant way according to His own words in John 10:10.
We should, as followers of Jesus, smile and laugh, and be joy-filled along with having fun. But these individuals who enjoy what they have in Christ, also take their walks with God as an integral part of their lives, and don’t treat it as a hobby or add-on to everything else.
I don’t know about you, but I do not want to get caught up in treating my Christian faith as a casual part of my life. I refuse to treat God as a magic genie Whose job it is to make me happy and give me all that I want.
I want Jesus to be my all-in-all. Think of who we are as followers of Christ – adopted as His children (Ephesians 1:5); forgiven of all our sins (Romans 4:6-8); given the Holy Spirit, Who is also God as the Father and Son are, to live in us and change us (Ephesians 1:13-14).
We are a new creation (let that sink in) in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17). We are loved unconditionally (Romans 5:5). We have been given spiritual gifts to be used in serving the Lord and others (1 Corinthians 12).
The list could go on but we get the picture. God’s incredible work in the lives of His children is beyond human explanation. We should desire to live for God, not so He will love us more, or so that He will accept us to Himself by what we do. He already loves and accepts us if we are His children through faith in Christ.
We should live for Him because we love Him and are thankful for the things He has done and is doing in our life. When we choose to follow the Lord Jesus with our lives, our view of our Christian faith goes from seeing what God can do for us to what we can do for God.
He does bless us. He does touch our lives. But He is not my divine vending machine who I pull the handle on when it is convenient or I need something.
We will struggle in our lives as believers, there is no doubt about that. Christians being persecuted for their faith around the world have tough times and probably ask many questions. But they are often resolved in their minds that the God Who loves them is Who they desire to serve, and despite the things happening, it seems the majority stand firm and grow deeper in their relationships with God.
It is time for us as believers here in our country to grow our roots deep in our Lord, to hunger and thirst for His righteousness (Matthew 5:6), to pursue Him with our hearts and to reflect Him and what He is really like – a God Who wants to bring people to Him and into His kingdom.