It All Comes Down to Love

Persuasion, conformity, obedience, discrimination, and other positive and negative social behaviors are all important topics to consider in regards to the Christian faith as we attempt to live like Christ in order to reach others with His truth. Each of these has a unique role in Christ-like behavior.

In order to bring people to Christ, there is a natural inclination to persuade people to believe. The movie God’s Not Dead shows this truth in a rather captivating way. A college student enters a class where the professor is forcing everyone to admit that “God is dead”. The student refuses and is then requested to provide a defense for God in the upcoming classes. The approach taken by the student revolves around scientific facts, like a presentation in a court case. However, there is a twist that occurs at the end of the discussion. All of his points become irrelevant to the ultimate decision everyone must make, which is actually just a decision. There will always be debate over whether God exists or not, so the only thing an individual can really do is decide which side to have faith in. This revelation destroys the initial need to persuade people to Christ. It all comes down to living a life that portrays Christ to others so they can have a desire for God, hopefully making that decision to believe.

Other interesting issues involving social behavior also penetrate the church. Conformity has an interesting role in churches. For many church-goers, their faith is based off of family or friend’s beliefs. They do not have a personal commitment to their faith and miss out on the most important parts of following God.

Like the negative impact conformity can have, discrimination is a huge problem for Christians. Christians are both discriminated against and are guilty of the act of discrimination. In some ways, that discrimination is partly backed by biblical principles, specifically an avoidance of homosexual acts and behaviors (1 Cor. 6:9-11). But at the same time, an overt and hurtful discrimination of homosexuals pushes away potential followers of Christ. There is a fine line between standing up for what you believe in and bringing everyone to God. Discriminating against different races and religions can be difficult for some Christians, but there always needs to be an extension of God’s love through us to all people (1 John 4:7, Mat. 22:39).

Obedience is something God requires of us. The psychologist’s definition of obedience is a simple one—a change in behavior in response to the commands of others. Stanley Milgram’s experiment testing obedience to authority demonstrates an interesting variable in this quality. In the experiment, the participants’ actions showed a certain willingness to follow authority to extreme measures, especially when it is known that any repercussions will not affect them. There is a certain trust in that relationship between the participant and experimenter. Similarly, the trust between us and God, knowing that we can live for Him in confidence, can influence our obedience to Him. “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1).  That creates a special bond between “those who are in Christ Jesus” and Christ Jesus himself. At the same time, we know that this trust cannot be replicated to anyone here on Earth. God is our ultimate authority and we have full trust in Him.

The love that God has for us is amazing. I trust God with my life because I made a decision to believe that He sent His Son to die a horrible death for me, only to be raised to life again three days later. By doing so, he saved me from my sins and conquered death. Romans 8, Ephesians 1:1-14, Ephesians 2, and Ephesians 3:1-13 all illustrate this through amazing words. Paul knew that God’s love for us is like nothing that can be produced here on this Earth, so our love for Him and our trust in Him should be like nothing else we have or could have.

The many negative and positive social behaviors we constantly exhibit are all important to consider while walking with God on our way to God. There is amazing power in what we do and how we do it. Making sure we live like Christ is important in everything that we do. At the very least, God deserves that. He deserves our life long dedication to glorifying and worshiping Him because He loves us so very much. Louie Giglio, the pastor of Passion City Church in Atlanta said it best: “In the end, our worship is more about what we do than what we say.”

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Cheese

I like making weird comparisons, so here is one involving cheese–a yummy, delicious, fantastic, amazing, scrumptious, beautiful, odd, weird, disgusting, crazy, wacko, perfect, awesome, totally rad piece of food which I have decided to relate to the Bible as a whole. BAM!

You know what I am talking about with that title up there… That yellowish, more often whitish, stinky, weird looking, cowified delicious stuff that always surprises my mouth with its goodness is everywhere. Something like that needs to be examined when it fills so many of our favorite dishes. From lasagna, to pizza, to cake (as in cheesecake), to burgers, to crackers (as in cheese and crackers), to the great spray cheese, cheese fills life. When I say “fills”, I mean both literally and figuratively…

Cheese fills my stomach and surrounds my everyday life. So what in the world is it?

No one knows…

But I believe cheese can be compared very easily to the Bible. It is kind of weird, often times white, sometimes weird looking, probably not cowified, but definitely (figuratively) delicious. It surprises me too. It surrounds my life spiritually as it pours out so many truths into my thoughts and beliefs. Something like that needs to be examined, just like cheese. The other thing, though, is that we can’t really tell what it is. Somehow, the Holy Spirit uses God’s word to guide us and help us through our lives. It is a magical, but rational, gift from God which has helped me get a glimpse of who He is.

I know, I am making a weird comparison here, but I like cheese and I like the Bible so I would like to make it okay to eat cheese, some how, from a biblical standpoint. The Bible carries so much weight to it in our lives and we need to take it seriously. Read it, feel it, smell it, (figuratively) eat it, touch it…

LIVE IT.

Micah 7:8:  Do not gloat over me, my enemy! Though I have fallen, I will rise. Though I sit in darkness, the LORD will be my light.

Parties, Summer Jobs, and Love… But No Blue Popcorn

My dreams are usually extremely weird, involving things like blue popcorn, giant monsters pushing me towards a door-stop, talking trees, birds being eaten by dogs, and many other odd occurrences. This wasn’t completely false with the dream I had last night but I did find a way of relating it to God this morning, which is unusual. To explain…

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It all started with me starting to work at my summer job again. I met up with my boss late on my first night. The night sky was seen clearly above us, framed by the trees that make up the mountain woods, yet the camp seemed bright with all the lights that were shining from the buildings. I remember having a conversation with my boss which included giving me my instructions for a task, then walking off in search of my work boots, which I seem to remember wearing at the time of the conversation. I entered a house that apparently I thought held my work boots, or whatever I was looking for, and found a party. I mean a hip-and-cool lights-going-off-all-around food-and-drink (of course non-alcoholic) jumping-grooving-happening party. It looked great. I remember having a quick conversation with someone and then walking into a small room where I found whatever I was looking for. I then returned to the party room and carried on having small conversations with people, having fun in the process. After a while of this I remembered I needed to return to my boss who probably suspected something. I returned. Then I scampered off again and got distracted doing something else. I don’t know what but I’m sure it was fun and exciting and probably involved puzzles…

Wait, puzzles aren’t exciting, and generally not fun either… hmmmm…..

Anyways, it is a dream…

I realize I must return to my boss again who is probably waiting for me again, this time he is probably very angry and will most likely kill me.

That didn’t happen though. I return to him and he gives the final instructions for the night. After finishing these instructions, he said, “Now, don’t be going to anymore parties from now on, okay? Get the work done, then you can have more fun.”

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Can you see what I realized with this dream?

God does the same thing. We start off with God saying, “Okay! What can I do! I am ready! You are my Lord and Savior! I love you and will serve you with my entire life!” And then what happens?

Life happens.

We start out on a mountaintop looking at the entire world with joy and enthusiasm and then we start walking. Then we look up and the scenery has changed. What used to be a gorgeous view of the world has now turned into a valley of despair. We can see one of two things. One, all we see are the giant challenges before us and nothing else. We don’t see the landscape and overall view of the world anymore. We get stuck in a situation that drags us into pain and suffering. Or, two, we find a nice little spot down in the valley that isn’t full of wild animals or terrible thorn bushes. It is just some nice green grass that can keep us comfortable for a while.

The second thing is what I find myself, and most of America, doing today. We find a nice place to settle down and we are just indifferent to the struggles and pain around us. We ignore all the things we should be doing, both in our everyday lives as people and our everyday lives as followers of Christ. This is what I did in my dream. I was with my boss and everything was as it should be. I was doing willing to do my job and get some rewards for it. But then, when I went to do my job, I found something that looked much more pleasing and was much more immediate in its reward.

There are so many things out in this world that do this to me. Friends, music, talents, exciting life events, and other such things are what pull me away from my mission for God and my mission to get closer to God. You might initially think, “those are awesome things though!” Yes, they are, but if I focus too much on myself and my personal gain in relation to those things, it becomes harmful to me and my missions.

Eventually I exited the first fun party and returned to my boss. Sometimes in life, we return back to God and our mission, but then those things suck us back or new distractions enter our lives, as I fell victim to in my dream.

After I returned to my boss the second time, he said that I needed to stay with my work so I could achieve the greater reward, just like God tells us to do with our lives. Living eternally with God and praising His great name because of his love and sacrifice for us is something that I look forward to in this life, but I do get distracted by the immediate things that come up to tempt me in life, even though they might not be inherently evil.

Colossians 1:21-23a (NIV) parallels this dream perfectly when Paul says, “Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation if you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel.”

One of the most amazing things about this verse, and the surprising part about my dream, is that the person in charge, doesn’t hold the sinner accountable for his actions. In my dream, my boss just continued on, just reminding me of the work and reward that was to come as a result. In life, God wiped our entire history for us so we can be blameless and pure. Search histories are often filled with evil things, but God just hit the clear button with Christ. He replaced every single terrible website with Jesus Christ. And, “In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.” (Ephesians 3:12 NIV).

Through Christ, we now stand before God with freedom and confidence. We can return to God from those ‘parties’ or those evil things we have been doing, and He will welcome us with open arms, covering us with his overwhelming love.

Because…

“His love never fails, it never gives up, it never runs out on me.” -One Thing Remains-  -Jesus Culture-