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section 7


John 20:31 But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. To expect ourselves to function in full ‘agape’ (God-like) love in such a finite condition as we are in, mentally, physically, and emotionally, is an exercise in frustration. The answer then, is purely spiritual. This is our only hope for Life. Believing in Christ connects us with God, and gives us the hope of life where there once was death. Callous indifference is a kind of death, because it is the death of our interest.

We will never be Perfect, but we can do what we are capable of even if what we do seems small and insignificant to us. In the Gospels, there was an unnamed man who could not stop Jesus’ crucifixion, but he did help Him carry his cross to the site. He could not change events, but he did what he could. He was moved by compassion and certainly was not a worthless goat.

By stepping outside of our own self-centered and self-sufficient world, we can exercise our new ability as Christians. The most Christ-like thing we can do is doing acts of love that we are not guaranteed some benefit from. Giving sacrificially or without anyone knowing, doing favors without being asked, praying in our closet, complementing or serving people who have no power to advance us or return us the favor, being a friend to the friendless, all of these are the kinds of acts I speak of. In fact, I will be so bold to say that anyone who has stopped doing these types of things has stopped being Christlike.

By being selfless, I do not mean be prove this by sacrificing ourselves by serving our idols ad nauseum, which may include anything from shallow religious causes to being enslaved to worthless people who would victimize us and take advantage of us. There is an end to sacrifice for man, because man is not God. The letters from the apostles are peppered with cautions about unwise sacrifice, especially toward nominal Christians or deceivers.

But as for our altruism, it should be as pure a sacrifice as possible. Keeping that in mind, let us consider how we shortchange our paid professional pastors or 'prophets' by guaranteeing certain returns that will make them stumble: for instance, receiving a title, being center-stage (all the time, no less), the garnered admiration of others, and an unending supply of unaccounted for money. This is ridiculous, because such benefits are certain to attract the most unaltruistic and insincere amongst us, and corrupt them even more. Are we insane to do this? We must be!

If over-the-top (unscriptural) benefits are expected (and worse, if they are demanded) then we have reduced acts of "love" into a king's right. Even a permanent salary can be considered foolishness, especially the way that we do it: requiring extra-Biblical credentials such as a college education (as if that guarantees brains), requiring ordination or 'discipleship' from an 'acceptable' source (the apostle Paul would have FAILED), requiring the submission of resumes (as if we can cull the bad guys from THAT), requiring a 'good word' from someone or over someone (they could have fooled them), and then rewarding these hoop-jumpings with the grand prize of a job description and the expectation that they bring in money for their denomination (by asking for it, no less). By doing this, we have substituted a process and formula for a lifestyle of faith. We have trapped people into educating themselves and then performing for something like a secular job, rather than something of the Kingdom. It is little wonder then when the journey is peppered with altars of compromise and detours of bondage to man, because the journey itself could be the detour away from the God's path, itself.

It may shock some to hear this, but truthfully we are stunting these poor servant's growth as Christians when their service is never really and completely altruistic done by the whim of the Spirit, because it risks the spiritual emptiness of no pure sacrifice to the Lord. We risk them being out of touch with the common man, because they do not have to work with their hands. Worse, there is no time clock to punch in while they are serving man for his salary, and no time clock to punch out for the times they are being brave Christians of the pure sacrifice. Is it any wonder they become confused? Later, we wonder how they became superficial as to never ruffle the wrong feathers, how they became so empty inside as to placate their soul with adulteries or drugs, or how they came to feel so worthless as to commit suicide.

God is not a hard taskmaster for these men and women. It is not acceptable to take and take and take from them without giving back, yet it is not acceptable to throw them into the bondage of a copy of the secular world system. To stand against the tide in this day and age, we might consider what our service should be like. According to what the Lord has shown me for these times, it is better to throw off the shackles and serve the Lord differently, for the times are evil and they deserve a raising of the standard. We should place greater trust in Him for our provision and agree with Him to serve according to that provision.

As for our salvation and 'perfection' (maturity), God gives us all the tools, power, grace, and counsel to both begin and complete the process. He is there with us and for us, all the way (Phil. 1:6). As for wrath and judgment, it is no mystery how to avoid it. He tells us to believe (Mark 16:15) deny ourselves (not be self-seeking or self-serving), take up our cross, and follow Him (Mark 8:34-35; Luke 14:27; Romans 2:8-9) God is ready to pour out His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit to anyone who asks (Romans 5:5; Luke 11:9-10). He makes it possible to both understand God’s love and demonstrate it. Any time we express His love out of pure altruism, we are expressing Christ. We are certainly walking in the Spirit, because the Spirit would certainly direct us to these types of activities (Gal. 5:16-17).

Some Christians talk a lot about the gifts of the Spirit, and these are very important, though they are empty and useless without love (1 Corinth. 13). However, just as there are gifts of the Spirit for the common good (1 Cor. 12:7), and just as there is a sense of destiny we feel as we follow the Spirit's will for the hour while in that spiritual gift, there is something else we need to know. That is, there are good works that God has planned for us to do ahead of time:

Eph. 2:8-10 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God-- not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. In other words, every one of us has a pre-ordained purpose for our lives by God: We have works that each one of us –we, and only we--can do, and fruits that only we can bear. By this we please God, and by failing, we displease Him (Matt. 3:10; Matt. 25:14-30). Simply becoming believers and waiting for our reward in heaven does not get us that award (1 Corinth. 3:10-15). The rapture or Christ’s return should not be our primary preoccupation. There is a world around us that desperately needs Christ, as well as fellow believers we can bless and minister to.


Jesus gives Life to those He is pleased with:

John 5:21 For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son gives life to whom he is pleased to give it. We cannot sit back as some do, and simply declare that "Jesus will build His Church" while we excuse ourselves from being His extension on earth. By extension on the earth, I am not talking about preaching Jesus and only Jesus, and it is all about Jesus, and that pointing to Jesus makes one holy. Anyone can talk about Jesus, and some can even do it eloquently, but how passive are we to be while this "Jesus" (you know, the risen one up in heaven) builds his Church? Indeed, I have both met some people and have known of others who preach this spiritualized, mystical message, and yet under observation, they fail to show even the simplest of love or courtesy when they have every opportunity to do so. Indeed, they may even return evil for good, or be engaged in things that deserve rebukes and oustings!

They are not prophets and this is not a prophetic message from them. If they cannot be engaged in 'basic' Christianity enough to produce the first works of Christianity, how are they worthy of giving any message at all? Too many are naked and have not put on their wedding garments already, do we need more such people preaching Jesus at us? I think not!

In truth, consigning everything to a mystical Jesus is just as good as turning away our brothers and sisters from the door, as we tell ourselves that somehow 'Jesus' will provide. Jesus does build -- through us. Jesus does work—through us. Jesus is the Head—and we are the Body. How good is an inactive Body to the Head? I dare say, not much! So, while it is always true that we can do works by our own self-will or participate in things apart from God (James 4:13-15), and that these things can be more a monument to ourselves than to Christ, we must remember that "love never fails."Therefore, we don’t have to excessively wait for instructions on what we are "called" to do before we are willing do anything, because we are always called to be Christians. That means we are always called to love one another, and in doing that, we never fail spiritually! (1 Peter 1:21-23; 2 Peter 1:1-12)

It may be impossible to please man but it is not that difficult to please God. That is why God did not accept fear as a good excuse from the man who buried his one talent in the Parable of the Talents (Matt. 25:24-30). His response to God was one of resentment and of blaming God for his fear, but the real motive was self-centeredness and slothfulness, and God knew it. His is yet another example of foolish apathy. Most of us have no idea how much burying our part hurts ourselves, other people, and the Kingdom as a whole. But God has an idea of what was missed, and so His anger.

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