The Christian Who Fell

A Christian friend of mine recently posed this question to our men’s group, “Can professing Christians fall way, proving that they were never truly in Christ?” That is a HUGE question, but what I felt like he was really asking was this, “once we are saved are we always saved?” Or, the ultimate way of asking that same question is, “once we are saved can we no longer go to hell… ever?” Again, these are some huge things to ponder.

The writer of Hebrews said this, “If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left.” So I would start answering his question with one of my own; “What is sin?” When confronted with the question, “what is the greatest commandment (or law to follow)?” Jesus has this to say; “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. And… Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.” So what I gather from the words of Jesus is this; sin is the selfishness inside of us all that stands opposite of both the love of Christ, and the love he asks us to have for one another. With that in mind, here’s my thought on the original question…

Because truly living is being fully present in the moment, if we spend even one of those moments worrying about heaven or hell, it’s a waisted moment. Jesus asked this question, “Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” So why spend our time worrying about heaven or hell? In my opinion the best question is this, “is my moment filled with love?” because if not, Christ is not ok with that moment. Another great question would be, “Am I justifying why love is not in this moment?” The act of selfishness or love can bring either heaven or hell into our current moment. I believe that once a person learns what love looks like but refuses to do it, God is displeased, no matter who they are, or how long they have been “saved”, because to deny love, is to deny Christ himself.

So I would say “YES!” professing Christians can fall away from Christ, because “God is love” and there is no scenario in which he will ever justify the absence of that love.

What Are We Left To Trust?

WHAT ARE WE LEFT TO PLACE OUR TRUST IN BUT GOD?

Should we put our trust in humans who are borne to other humans, who live and then die like all others them before them? Who lie and cheat to get by? Or, can we trust in the sun and moon, earth and water? We have no control over those, they do as they were made to do, day in and day out, year after year and decade after decade.

So what then, what do we have to put our trust in but God? Will he let us down or turn a deaf ear when we cry out to him? Will he leave when we come running? Sit and watch from a distance while we lay broken and crying? Maybe, he’s done it in the past when those before us came to him in arrogance, demanding he give to them what they thought they needed. So how then do we approach this God whom we so desperately need; this God that we are left to put our trust in?

What is it you think you need from him? What request do you bring to his feet? Who is this God to you? Is he the God of luck and fortune? The one you will finally make time for once things are approaching rock bottom? The God to whom you have ignored every one of his cries? The God who is ever speaking, calling, and reaching out? “How?” you say, “how is he ever speaking, calling, and reaching out to me?” Isn’t nature itself evidence enough for you? Do you not see the sunset and sun rises?! Do you not hear the song of the birds?! Do you not feel the rumble of the thunder? Are you deaf, and blind? What if there were no more sound but that of the other humans and the things they have created? What if the sun burned out and there were no more light? What if the dew and rain dried up and the trees withered away? What if God took away all of his handy work from you and I? Is not the gift of these things love in and of themselves? Did you earn the sun to rise or the rain to fall? Did you call for the birds to sing their songs? No! This was given to us by his great love! You did not earn it!

We sit in our arrogance say, “WHERE IS GOD! I need him and he is nowhere to be found!” Yet the sky still gives you it’s beautiful colors morning and evening, and the trees and plants yield to you their oxygen.

“Where is God!?” He is where you left him. He is at home, in his place of order. He is doing what he does best, loving all of us together, yet one at a time. He is there, calling out to you, reaching, and hoping. Hoping that you will get up from your place of self indulgence, isolation, and self pity. Why, oh why I wonder do we hurt so deeply, and cry so many tears when there is a God! And not just a God, but a God of love.

To some, love is just a word that negates the requirement of work for what God has already freely given to all of us, even the murders and pedophiles. That free gift is salvation from all that would destroy us. Many of us though, some Christians as well, refuse to take it. We are too busy trying to make our own way in this life, and where has that gotten us?… angry, and full of fear!

We lash out at those who don’t vote for the other human who will also die one day like all the rest of us. We lash out at those who believe in things that don’t line up with our beliefs, and somehow, we believe God approves… HE DOESN’T!

We are consumed by fear as we watch nature unfold around us and capture the entire world in its grip. This very nature that Jesus commanded “be still” and then turned to His disciples and asked, “why didn’t you speak to it?!” I want to know one thing, WHERE ARE YOU AND WHY ARE YOU SLEEPING!? Can we trust God, YES! What else is there to trust! Will He answer? YES! He is only waiting for you to start asking the right questions. Wake up you arrogant Christians! Wake up you fool who claims there is no God! Wake up those who claim there is a God but He doesn’t care about the fate of the world! Rise like a new day! Walk in the power of His love, and live like you never have before.

Religion…So What’s The Problem?

Re·li·gion: Belief in and reverence for a supernatural power or powers regarded as creator and governor of the universe. A cause, principle, or activity pursued with zeal or conscientious devotion.

Religion, while having many problems, has a lot of great things to offer, the greatest of which is family; however, is it just me or does it seem like many people are becoming disgruntled with all sorts of things concerning religion?  People are ultimately, walking away and claiming no real allegiance to any religion at all.  In all honesty, I’ve noticed myself growing a bit jaded with religion and what it has come to; but unless I can be honest with myself and see my own faults, how can I contribute to the mending of what is becoming broken?

The Real Problem

You see, the real problem isn’t religion; it’s us, the people! We’re the ones with selfishness, pride, and greed. We quickly point fingers of contempt and disapproval at the ministers who ask us to do things we feel aren’t entirely biblical or reasonable. We gather our friends together and share our complaints and disapproval in hopes of saving them from a ministry of wrong teachings. We complain when the church asks us for money because we feel like we’ve worked hard for that money and we’re barely making it the way it is! Then we go and trade our 22-inch televisions for a 44-inch flat screen. We complain of the teachings of modesty because we want to go on vacation, or let our kids go to school and “fit in” by wearing what all the other girls are wearing at school or on the beach. Then unscrupulous men, who have a problem with pornography,  look at our daughters with sick and twisted sexual desires. We complain about the pastor not being in touch with reality, while we make ridiculous statements like, “If my boss would just give me a raise, I would work harder.” We have the audacity to complain about our pastors “not preaching it hard enough” on subjects we think he should. And then we sit at a restaurant, stuffing our faces, and conveniently push away the Scriptures that clearly tell us gluttony is a sin.

I too, as a minister of the gospel, have sat with fellow ministers and felt justified to speak against other ministers and the way they go about ministering. I’ve spoken against, preached against, and even made fun of other religions that don’t believe like I do. I’ve gone as far as claiming that, “If you don’t like what you are hearing here, you can go down the street to one of the other churches where they will let you do whatever you want.” Why would I say such things? How could I feel so justified to speak against a fellow minister, or another religion? Can I honestly say that they don’t love God with the same level of passion, simply because they don’t serve God the same way I do?

Yes, I am guilty! I too, as a minister of the gospel, have made statements like “Well, the one thing we can do is eat!” I too, as a minister of the gospel, have not given to causes when God specifically told me to because I was thinking only of myself and what I wanted, or of my own bills that needed the money, only to get up and “preach it hard” about giving. I too, as a minister of the gospel, have been a guilty party, causing religion to be riddled with problems and too few solutions.

Look at this warning the Lord gives to Ezekiel,  “As surely as I live, says the Sovereign Lord, Sodom and her daughters were never as wicked as you and your daughters. Sodom’s sins were pride, gluttony, and laziness, while the poor and needy suffered outside her door. She was proud and committed detestable sins, so I wiped her out, as you have seen.” (Ezekiel 16:48-50 NLT)

The Answer

The truth is, any of us can sit around and talk about what we disapprove of.  Any of us can pick up rocks and throw them at those we don’t like or don’t understand. And any one of us can continue to live in denial about the fact that there is a real problem with religion as we know it today. But the sad fact will still remain. Who will be a part of the solution rather than compounding the problem? When will those who are not being loved start to feel cared about? When will the child who cries himself to sleep at night be loved and embraced by the very hands that now are filled with rocks of ungratefulness and contempt? How long will we ignore the fact that the new babes who come into our churches are seen as little more than “one more that we can get on our side” or “another to add to our clique”? How long will we ignore the fact that our churches, US, WE THE PEOPLE OF THE CHURCH, AND US PASTORS AND EVANGELISTS, have left our passionate love for others behind only to grab hold of our own selfish causes, and conveniently hide it under the banner of “truth?”

Is it enough to keep “fighting for the truth” and say such things as “Well, at least we still hold to the truth,” even though we’ve lost our deep, intimate, passionate connection and love for both God and others? We ignore the problems in society that rage all around us because we’re too caught up in fighting for our causes. Does it really fix the problem to walk away from a church or religion and say, “They just don’t understand how things are! They don’t care about me, or even love me, because if they did they wouldn’t ask such things of me!”

Is there a real problem? Yes! But saints of God, the real problem isn’t religion or every pastor, it’s you! Pastor and Evangelist, the real problem isn’t the people you pastor or preach to, it’s you! It’s me! It’s our selfish pride and ambition! We don’t want to say the words, “I’m sorry.”  We tell ourselves, “He’s the pastor, he should know better! Let him come to me first,” Or “I’m the pastor! They’re the rebellious sheep! Let them come to me first!”  WHEN DO THE SHEEP GET LOVED IN EITHER OF THESE TWO SCENARIOS?

We can live with denial all we like, but one day, selfish saint, selfish pastor, and evangelist, we will give an answer to God as to why we let religion become this way! Anyone can point out a problem, but few are willing, or even care to know how to fix it. Some who read this will focus on one or two lines and will twist the words and meanings so that they will be justified in being angry, and not have to fix what is broken in their own heart.

Write this letter to the angel of the church in Ephesus. This is the message from the one who holds the seven stars in his right hand, the one who walks among the seven gold lampstands: “I know all the things you do. I have seen your hard work and your patient endurance. I know you don’t tolerate evil people. You have examined the claims of those who say they are apostles but are not. You have discovered they are liars. You have patiently suffered for me without quitting. “But I have this complaint against you. You don’t love me or each other as you did at first! Look how far you have fallen! Turn back to me and do the works you did at first. If you don’t repent, I will come and remove your lampstand from its place among the churches. But this is in your favor: You hate the evil deeds of the Nicolaitans, just as I do. “Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what he is saying to the churches. To everyone who is victorious I will give fruit from the tree of life in the paradise of God.” (Revelation 2:1-7 NLT)

You have heard that our ancestors were told, `You must not murder. If you commit murder, you are subject to judgment.’  But I say, if you are even angry with someone, you are subject to judgment! If you call someone an idiot, you are in danger of being brought before the court. And if you curse someone, you are in danger of the fires of hell. “So if you are presenting a sacrifice at the altar in the Temple and you suddenly remember that someone has something against you, leave your sacrifice there at the altar. Go and be reconciled to that person. Then come and offer your sacrifice to God.” (Matthew 5:21-24 NLT)

Useless Until Broken

If Pride equates to wholeness, and Humility brokenness: then I truly am useless until Broken.

Pride the Bigot 

Why does humility so easily elude us? Is it because no matter how much we desire humility it’s impossible to achieve by our own strength? No matter how much we deny self, self always rises back up again in conquering victory. It seems to me that even when I feel as if I’ve conquered pride and have finally allowed humility its proper place in my life, I become proud of how humble I am! Even the times I write or speak about humility, trying my hardest to help others out of the dangers of pride, I find myself repenting deeply. After the writing was done or the sermon was over God exposes the root of pride in my own heart. There it was, written between the lines, hidden within the words of the sermon, attacking, accusing, beating down those I thought I was helping to overcome pride.

I notice groups of people everywhere trying their hardest to live a life of humility; so much so, that they have gone to great lengths to separate themselves from the rest of us. But all I see is more pride. I even find myself working so hard to live the Christian life of separation, only to fall deeper into the deadly trap of pride. The trap so easily concealed under the comparison of myself to those around me. I begin feeling like I’ve reached the mark of true holiness only due to the fact that I’ve become more separate from the sins of this world than my fellow Christian. Oh the foolishness and folly of such comparisons that I make!  The holiness I give to God must spring from my very own desire to please Him, not to be better than my brother or sister.

“For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.” (2 Corinthians 10:12 KJV)

Learning Humility

Could it be that the only way to truly preach against pride is to live humility out-loud? And could it be that the only way to live it out-loud is to have love for those who have given up the fight or have never really known how to fight in the first place? Or to continue to lift up those around us that are also fighting the fight of faith? Paul said this, “We are human, but we don’t wage war as humans do. We use God’s mighty weapons, not worldly weapons, to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and to destroy false arguments. We destroy every proud obstacle that keeps people from knowing God. We capture their rebellious thoughts and teach them to obey Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:3-5 NLT)

Moses, the man of Humility

I’m reminded of Moses, the man of whom the Bible had this to say;  “Now Moses was very humble—more humble than any other person on earth.” (Numbers 12:3 NLT). It was during a very trying time of Moses’ leadership that the Bible makes that statement. His very own brother (Aaron) and sister (Miriam) no longer believed in his leadership and in rebellion spoke out against him. God was angry with them and cursed Miriam with leprosy. But Moses, being humble, prayed for her and begged God to heal her.

Time and again Moses prayed for those who angered God by speaking out against the two of them, and thereby bring trouble and even death upon themselves. It was his prayers for those who didn’t understand how to fight, even when they hurt him that earned him,Moses, the title, “the most humble man on earth”.

“Therefore I do not run without definite aim. I do not box like one beating the air and striking without an adversary. But like a boxer, I buffet my body, I handle it roughly, discipline it by hardships and subdue it, for fear that after proclaiming to others the Gospel and things pertaining to it, I myself should become a castaway.” (1 Corinthians 9:26-27)