What a Beautiful Church!

“Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you have a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you” (Colossians 3:13).

Faithfulness, steadfastness, loyalty don’t shine in comfort and plenty. These are virtues that shine most brightly and is most beautiful in conflict, affliction, scarcity, and uncertainty.

Before I go on I want to make clear that there is an exception to this rule. When one is dealing with heresy, toxic and abusive behavior, this rule does not apply. When you are in an abusive situation, get out. When there is toxic behavior, call it out. Don’t tolerate it. When there is heresy, do as Paul commands, “Hand him over to Satan.”

The word for ‘bear’ in the Greek means to hold up, bear with. It means to endure, have patience with, suffer, and persist.

Not only does ‘bear’ mean those things, it is written in the present participle. This means that bearing with one another is a never ending, on-going act. The best way to translate that would be to say something like, “Keep on bearing with one another…”

Not only are we called to keep on bearing with one another, but we are called to forgive. The Greek for ‘forgive’ is also written in the present participle.

The trait of disciples and Christ-followers in the church is the refusal to quit on each other. It is an on-going, never ending bearing with one another, forgiving each other along the way. That’s the way of the church.

And when the church demonstrates that in the midst of conflict, affliction, scarcity, and uncertainty, the love and the grace of Jesus shines brightly. The church is truly beautiful.

Let’s be a beautiful church!

Take Up the Cross and Follow Me

“Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me” (Mark 8:34).

“Take up the cross and follow me,” said Jesus.

So, how did taking up the cross thing go for Jesus?

That doesn’t sound like much fun does it.

Jesus tells us that there are three things required for those who want to be disciples, or literally followers of Jesus:

  • Deny yourself
  • Take up the cross
  • and Follow me

All three verbs – ‘deny’, ‘take up’, ‘follow’ – are written as imperatives. These are commands, not suggestions.

Also, these verbs are written in the aorist tense. The Greek had multiple ways to express the past tense. Aorist past tense verbs mean on-going action. So, when your child says, “I brushed my teeth,” the understanding is that not only did he brush his teeth before bed, but that he will brush his teeth again in the morning, and again in the evening. Brushing one’s teeth as a one time activity leads to cavity. Besides, that would really be disgusting.

When we think about denying oneself and taking up the cross, we imagine these things to be heroic or legendary things. That’s what super duper Christians do. Wow! Look at those super duper Christians denying themselves and taking up the cross! Wow! What studs!!!

But that’s what is wrong with us. These are not heroic or legendary things. These are normal, everyday things for disciples! This is what is expected of every single disciple who calls themselves a Christian. That we have gone away from this truth is a problem.

Every day, every moment, we are called to deny ourselves and take up the cross. This is the practice and acceptance of duties and responsibilities that we may not like. It’s not about what we may like. It’s about doing what God calls us to do.

Remember? Deny yourself. Take up the cross. So you can follow me.

Let’s get following!

The Bible and the Christian – Part 5 of 5

“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

All scripture is God inspired and is useful for four things:

1. Teaching – knowing truth
2. Rebuking – knowing when and where we err
3. Correcting – knowing how to live correctly
4. Training in righteousness

What is the aim and purpose of right teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness?

“So that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

God created us with a purpose. God created us and birthed the church so that through the church and his people God can establish his kingdom here on earth as it is in heaven. God created us for good works.

Jesus said, “Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify the Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).

The Apostle Paul wrote to the church in Ephesus, “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:9).

God created us to be a blessing to the people around us. God created us to be agents of God’s peace and love so that the people around us cannot help but be drawn to the Christ we adore.

If you are a disciple of Jesus Christ, you adore, study, and read God’s word. Loving God starts with loving his Word. You cannot love God and not love his Word.

The Verse of the Day is a good start. I encourage you to go deeper in God’s word. Commit to hearing God’s word preached through Sunday worship and commit to studying God’s word together in a small group. I say this for your benefit, for this is how you grow up and mature in the faith. Just because you study God’s word doesn’t guarantee you will grow up and mature in the faith. But, there is no way you can grow up and mature in the faith without studying God’s word.

The relationship between God’s word and the Christian is essential. One cannot be a disciple without loving and obeying God’s word.