Six weeks ago we started a series I like to call Church is Not a Red-Carpet Event. I began by giving you my background and my past hangups with church as well as what I believe is missing in church based on my study of Acts. In the five weeks that followed we looked at engaging our culture with the message of Jesus, just another term for making disciples. Let’s review:
Embrace your identity. Though my beliefs are in stark contrast to that of a radical Islamist, the fervor with which followers of this religion live is noticeably missing from the average Christian. One of the reasons Islamists experience success in their endeavors is that they have completely embraced who they believe themselves to be-followers of Mohammed with the goal of eradicating the infidels. Until we live as if our existence depends on Jesus, we will be hard -pressed to persuade others of their need for Him.
No is always a choice. God is a God of freedom, freedom to follow Him and freedom to reject Him. He could have created a world full of robots but instead He gave us the freewill to choose Him or not choose Him. Upon coming to Him for salvation, we have opportunities everyday to say no to one thing so we can say yes to God, thereby enabling us to live the calling He has placed on our lives.
Gift of the Holy Spirit came next. Attempting to drive a car on fumes and no gas is senseless and will get you nowhere. The same holds true for a believer attempting to engage her culture without tapping into the power that is hers through the Holy Spirit. Why do we attempt to live out God’s purpose for our lives without His help?
Assess the damage and assess the need. We don’t have to look long and hard to see the damage sin has caused, nor do we have to wonder at the solution.
“’The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.’ Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone were fastened on him, and he began by saying to them, ‘Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing’” (Luke 4:18-21, NIV)
Get up. This involves actually giving ourselves away-our time, our money, our attention. Getting up involves obedience, delayed gratification and total abandonment to the will of God no matter how we’re feeling at the moment. And finally, the last letter, “E.”
Eternal perspective. This is the nuts and bolts of it all, the nitty gritty, where the rubber meets the road. Perspective is what will free you from the distractions of the world and set your sights on the task at hand. Eternal perspective gives us the will to embrace our identity, the courage to say no to things that hinder the working of God in our lives, the ability to see who the Holy Spirit is in light of our calling, the eyes to see the urgent needs of our culture, the ability to get up and give away with purpose beyond morals and ethics.
Eternal perspective is what I’m desperately trying to pass on to a friend of mine who is entrenched in feelings of hopelessness and questioning. It’s the one thing that her religion with all of its rules and regulations has failed to give her. Without it she is left wondering if God is really there and if He really cares and if all her work is meaningless.
Eternal perspective gives man a reason to live. It’s the natural mindset of a redeemed sinner, the hope of what’s to come, the knowledge that the worst experience we have on this earth is the worst experience we will ever have if we know Jesus.
Eternal perspective is the message of the Bible. It’s the meaning of “seek ye first the kingdom of God,” of the promise “I am going to prepare a place for you.” It’s the shadow cast over our lives, the sieve through which all we believe and do and say and are is filtered. It is this:
“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of thins has passed away.’ He who was seated on the throne said, ‘I am making everything new!’ Then he said, ‘Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.’ He said to me: ‘It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life. He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be my son’” (Rev. 21:1-7).
Perspective is everything. I wonder how we would engage our world with the message of Jesus if we saw each person in light of what is waiting for them if they only believe?