Saturday, July 8, 2017

Are You a Jesus Admirer?

This whole thought arose because I was asking the Lord for the key to Christian motivation. It has bothered me a lot that I meet many Christians who are by and large not very motivated for the things of God. We are told to make disciples but I have found that many aren't really into this, that somehow it is so hard to motivate Christians into becoming disciples, let alone disciple others. The Matt 28:18-20 model, 

Matthew 28: 18 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen. (NKJV)

what we call the Great Commission, is simply something that is not doable with many such Christians. So I asked the Lord, I felt this question arise in my heart: 

"Do you admire me?" "Sure, Lord, I love you."

Again, I felt the same question, with a deeper resonance on the same word: "No, but do you admire me?"

As I mulled on this question, it was like someone suddenly turned on the spiritual floodlights lights in my mind. Of course! We are supposed to be disciples! The end product of a disciple is that he should look, sound and feel like his master. That's why the early believers were called Christians in the first place - "little Christs". Everywhere they went, they reminded people of the Jesus that they admired so much! They brought the fragrance of His knowledge (2 Cor 2:14-15) to everyone. They didn't just try to look or sound like the Man - they actually smelled like Him!

It's one thing when we call ourselves "Christians". It's another when we take on to being His disciple. (see "I am Not a Christian") A good test of where we are headed is if we see that from within our hearts we increasingly really desire to be like Him. Paul did ask us to imitate him as he imitated Christ (1 Cor 11:1) and to be imitators of God (Eph 5:1).

But herein lies the problem in 2 steps. To imitate, aspire and learn to become like, to manifest the qualities of another person, we need to: 
1. Come to know this person, and know him well. The more we know, the better we can perceive his character, his qualities and his traits.
2. Admire him - be convinced that these characteristics, qualities, traits that he carries are the very ones we need and desire for ourselves.

We ultimately cannot follow or become someone we don't know or admire. If the one we are trying to be a disciple of is far away and vague to us, and the merits of his character and nature open to question, we will fail. Invariably, we will make poor disciples and we ourselves will have a miserably unsuccessful time making disciples. And this is why I suspect the Great Commission isn't going the way it should be (see "Two People Needed to Save the World").

Another thing about admiration is that it cannot be forced. Religion can mandate that we sing hymns, recite prayers, pay dues and homage to a god we claim to worship, but it is only in admiration born of knowledge that we truly praise, worship and desire to become like our Jesus.

Jesus did say that eternal life is all about knowing Him:
John 17:3 And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. (NKJV)

His death on the Cross settled for us the issue of sin and separation. His resurrection meant His Spirit could come back into us to enable us to once again live the life we were meant to live, the Christ-life. That is why when Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life", He truly meant it. His way is the only right one, His life manifested the truths we need to know and embrace, and with His Spirit in us, we can become like Him and enjoy His life. 

That is why the Word tells us
Psalm 34:8 Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good; Blessed is the man who trusts in Him! (NKJV) 

We need to open our mouths, volunteer our wills and taste and to trust in Him, realizing the goodness of His nature. 

Like Paul, we need to be convinced:
Roman 8:38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (NIV)

And in this realization, we become like Him:
Ephesians 3:19 to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. (NKJV)

So the question I ask of all of us believers today is very simple: do we know Christ enough that we truly admire this Man-God and actively desire to be like Him? Not just to do His acts, but manifest His very character, His nature. Are we convinced that He is the greatest guy that ever lived and that if we could ever live our lives like His, all our questions would be answered?

So do you admire Jesus?

Thanks for reading. I pray you are blessed and I'd love to hear your thoughts on this, both here and on Facebook!

Referenced verses:

2 Corinthians 2:14 Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place. 15 For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. (NKJV)

1 Corinthians 11:1 Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ. (NKJV)

Ephesians 5: 1 Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. (NKJV)

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Clearing that Faith vs Works Argument

James 2:17 Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. 18 But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. (NKJV)

Some will say it is faith alone that saves us, other will say that we need to have works, so which is it?

I'll use these analogies. Let's say the point of belief is not about something spiritual but something here on earth, say about healthy eating - perhaps going on a vegetarian diet. If you have read much about it and SAY that you are convinced by it, the proof of the pudding will be when your family and friends see you changing your diet from (say) pizza, coke and ice cream to raw veg, avocados and alfalfa. You get what I mean. You can say everything about how you agree that a vegetarian diet is good for detox, great for shedding those extra pounds, wonderful for health, but as long as you continue to snarf down burgers and fries, it simply means that you don't believe.

Or let's say it's exercise. I can tell my friends all I want about how exercise is good for me, how it's great for my health and all the good things about working out, but as long as they see me on the couch with the remote control most of the time, instead of in my shorts and runners, they won't be convinced that I really believe what I say.

This is FAITH without the WORKS. The World calls it "NATO" - No Action, Talk Only.

James 2:17 Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

HOWEVER, there may be times when, because, for whatever reason, it's cool to be vegetarian (all my friends at this party are eating the stuff), or because I want to be "in" with a certain crowd that exercises, I might force myself to eat veggies or do exercise. Or maybe I'm just trying to prove a point to justify what I say, not because I'm truly convinced. However, when I'm alone, I eat junk food or neglect to exercise.

This is WORKS without FAITH.

James 2:18a But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.”

But if one is TRULY convinced about the benefits of a certain diet, you will see that person adopting it as his lifestyle, forsaking the "bad" food. If one truly convinced about the benefits of exercise, he will get out and doing his exercise, regardless of the lack of external influences. He won't need to be in a crowd doing the same to do either. It will come from within.

You've met people like these - they eat healthy no matter what, or get outdoors no matter the weather. You see, these guys are CONVINCED.

It's all about the heart, being convinced, the renewal of the mind.

Romans 12:2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. (NKJV)

Once we are convinced about God's will, His way of doing things and we see the benefits, we will do as needed.

That's why

Romans 10:17 So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. (NKJV)

The more we are exposed to the Word, the more we will be convinced and the more it will manifest in our lives.

James 2:18b Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.

It comes from getting convinced that God's way is the right way and doing it out of a repentant (changed) mind. The WORKS will MANIFEST from the heart of BELIEF.


WORKS without being convinced by the Word of God, not coming from the heart of a repentant mind, are DEAD WORKS. Once the external influence to perform in a certain manner ceases (not in the company of Christians, outside of church, when no one is looking, guilt appeased etc.) the work ceases. We can behave right, do right, even serve in ministry etc. simply because we want others to think we have it altogether, not because we are convinced and convicted by the Word.

So there we have it - the Faith VS Works argument in a  simple nutshell. I hope that made sense to you. If it did, if you find this makes sense to you, please feel free to refer, cut and paste, share on Facebook etc. with others!

Peace and Joy.