Christianity in a World of “Church”

It appears we have it drastically wrong.   Church is being redefined in the 21st century to match the culture around us.  The church was designed to be a light to the world, but all too often, we just blend in with the rest of society.  Our human selves still desire the comforts and pleasures this world has to offer and thus there is no difference between us and our unchurched neighbors.  But God has called us, the church, to live differently than society.

what-is-churchThe 1st century church knew this well.  Without any human power to speak of, they grew from less than 200 believers into a movement that spread throughout the world.  But how?  Well it sure wasn’t by building megachurches and providing worship services to rival a rock concert.  They were transformed from the inside into individuals willing to sacrifice everything, even their lives, to preach the gospel of Jesus.  The cities that Paul, Peter, and the rest of the disciples preached to were no different from our cities today.  There was just as much sin in the world of old.  Yet the response to the gospel was tremendous because those Christians were decidedly counter-culture.

We must be wary that we don’t automatically assume we’re not the Pharisees of today, thinking we have all the answers.  We, in fact, may be far from what Jesus envisioned when he established the church.  We must follow His example of love and dying to ourselves not so we may simply live moral lives, but so we live a life worthy of our calling (Ephesians 4:1).

Attitude is Everything

“Attitude is everything!  Have a good one.”  You can find these words written on my class rules poster in the fourth grade classroom I teach.  Amongst all of the other rules about raising your hand to speak or bringing  your materials to class every day is this rule about attitude.  Attitude truly is everything both in life and in our Christian walk.

attitude-is-everything-post-it-notes

But what does a good attitude look like?  How should a Christian think and act to be considered having a good attitude in the eyes of God?  The Bible gives us some insight into where our hearts should lie and our motivation for being a follower of Christ.  Naturally, we should seek out the wisdom and guidance of God through his word.  Even more importantly is allowing that word to change us from the inside, molding our attitude into one God can use.

The apostle Paul, in Philippians 1:27, gives us a clue of where our attitude should be.  “Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.”  We carry around with us the knowledge of this great gospel of Jesus Christ, so we should respond to life’s circumstances as he would.  Sounds pretty hard to do considering that Jesus responded perfectly to all that life threw at him.

Where we can learn from Jesus is in the love he showed through humility.  Jesus never sought to fight for his own agenda or serve just his needs.  He was about his Father’s business (Luke 2:49).  He served others and gave his life to pay our debt (Matthew 20:28).

The only way to make a real change in our attitudes is to be transformed.  “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God-this is your spiritual act of worship.  Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:1-2).  We were created to be something greater than who we currently are.  We were created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.  “Put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its evil desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:22-24).

We must relinquish control and be made into a new creature; a creature with the attitude and mind of Christ.

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.  Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.  Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus; Who being in the very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.  And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death-even death on a cross!”

(Philippians 2:3-8)

-Joe

I Don’t Belong Here

Have you ever felt like you didn’t fit in, like you didn’t belong?   It happens to all of us no matter how popular or well liked we are.  At some point you will be left out, a person looking in from the outside.  Growing up, I always felt a sense of solitude, a desire to do my own thing, carefree of the opinions around me.  Of course, I would be lying if I said I didn’t care what others thought.  I just didn’t care about the “drama” of childhood.  (Sadly, there seems to be just as much drama to deal with as an adult.)  It seems that the feeling of not belonging is a negative thing.  But if we look at the teachings of the bible, we’ll find out that feeling out-of-place is exactly what we should dwell on.

As Christians, we should stand out from the world.  Even more important though is the fact that everyday we should feel like we don’t belong here.  God has no desire for us to pine after this world. But we want to get closer and closer until those around us would have a hard time telling if we are a Christian or not.  God has imprinted eternity on our hearts yet we live as if this world is all there is.  We chase everything the world has to offer, trying to fit in with those around us.  We talk like the world.  We entertain ourselves like the world.  We chase after the possessions of this world.  And all the while, what we should be thinking of is heaven.

dont belongJesus taught that if we belong to the world, the world would accept us.  Yet, if we proclaim the name Christian, we should actually be shunned by the world.

“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.  If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own.  As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world.  That is why the world hates you”

(John 15:18-19).

Once we accept that we don’t belong here, that we meant for eternal fellowship with God, we’ll live as if heaven were our home.  We are meant to be transformed, to become in likeness to Christ so we may worship him forever.

“But our citizenship is in heaven.  And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body”

(Philippians 3:20-21)

Remember, we are exhorted in 1 Peter 2:11 to live as aliens and strangers during this life.  I don’t want to fit in.  I want to stand out!  I want to be a light that darkness can’t comprehend!  I don’t belong here!

-Joe