Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Going Deeper with Christ

As I sit here in Boone, NC attending my church's District Conference I am challenged by the theme of this year's conference, Going Deeper.

We must go deeper in our devotion to Jesus, our determination to seek Jesus, and our dependence on Jesus.

Rev. Mitchell Gregory, Pastor at Cary Alliance Church, shared with us last night from Colossians 3:1-4. We were reminded that we have been raised with Christ (this is a past event), we are hidden in Christ (this is our present status), and we will be revealed with Christ in glory (this is our future).

As we strive to live the Christian life, we often struggle with what that should look like and how we should define a true disciple of Jesus Christ. With so many people defining discipleship in different ways, it can at times be hard to know if I am truly living up to what is required as a disciple of Jesus.

With this in mind, I have come to firmly believe that the Christian life is simply living out what is true about us in Christ.

As you read Colossians chapter 3 you will soon notice that it is only after we are told about who we are in Christ that we are then told to consider ourselves dead to sin (v. 5) and put on Christlikeness (v. 12).

In other words we must understand who we are in Christ before we can begin to live out our Christian life.

Therefore we must go deeper with Christ. We must seek Him more earnestly. How does one do this?

Colossians 3:1-2 tells us that we are to seek the things above and not things of this earth.

The bottom line is that we are to live fixated on Christ.

Let's go deeper!

Thursday, February 15, 2018

The Foolishness of the Cross

As a Christian I know my faith in Jesus Christ is counter cultural; it doesn't mesh with the way of the world. 

I have preached on many occasions from John 15:18-20 which says, "If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, 'A slave is not greater than his master.' If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you."

When an unbeliever speaks out against Christians in general or my faith personally, I am not surprised by this. Jesus said this is the way things would be. This does not mean I let the world trample over me. I will take a stand for what is right, but I won't be surprised if the world doesn't understand or even mocks my faith.

Just this week Omarosa Newman, the Trump administration’s former director of communications for its Office of Public Liaison, spoke out about Vice President Mike Pence's faith in Jesus Christ and how not only does he talk to Jesus, but Jesus talks to him. This caused a big splash in the media. Joy Behar, co-host of The View, spoke out this week in response to Omarosa's comments and had this to say: "It’s one thing to talk to Jesus, it’s another thing when Jesus talks to you. That’s called mental illness."

As I thought about this, a verse came to mind. 1 Corinthians 1:18 - "For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God." The gospel is foolish and offensive to many in our world today. They would rather rely on their own wisdom than the message of the cross.

So what should the Christian's response be? If Jesus tells us to expect the world to hate us as His followers and to expect that we will be persecuted, what should we do?

1. Reflect the love of Christ. We must avoid the temptation to fight back and be harsh. When we display the love of Christ, God is glorified, and our witness is made stronger.

2. Take joy in persecution. I know what you are thinking: This guy has lost his mind. 

Consider this: Jesus said in Luke 6:22-23"Blessed are you when men hate you, and ostracize you, and insult you, and scorn your name as evil, for the sake of the Son of Man. Be glad in that day and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven. For in the same way their fathers used to treat the prophets." 

Or how about 1 Peter 4:14, 16 - "If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you ... if anyone suffers as a Christian, he is not to be ashamed, but is to glorify God in this name."

Jesus promises those who suffer for Him eternal rewards. It only makes sense to pay the price in this life and experience Christ's joy and rewards in the life to come.

So the next time you hear of Christians being mocked or you yourself experience a certain level of discomfort when you stand firm on your convictions and in your faith, count it a privilege to be a follower of Jesus Christ and reflect His glory to the world.