This week we will look at the steps involved in seeking a transition in our lives. What does it take to get us to be willing to take a stand against the evil of a secular world that seems to have ‘captured’ a government that at one time found Judeo/Christian principles a foundation for guidance and laws? It is a decision we must make if we are going to be the Christians God’s Word intended us to be. We must decide if we are going to take a stand for God’s Word or are we going to sit back and let someone else carry the burden…a burden they may not care to carry…or are we just going to sit back and say we will let God concern Himself with the problems this nation now faces. How many times in the Bible did God expect His people to make a stand with His support? Today many so-called Christians need to go to work on seeking transformations in their lives. They need to be able to discern when it is time for God to act and when it is time for them to act with God’s guidance.
Jesus’ final command to His followers was to make disciples of people. Possibly we have intellectualized discipleship to its detriment. So often we perceive that process to be about transmission of information. Through experience we have come to recognize that those with the most information are not the people who make the biggest difference. Likewise, possessing a storehouse of spiritual information does not automatically produce transformation. Knowing Bible content is valuable, but simply possessing knowledge about the content does not produce fruit unless that knowledge is applied. Research has shown that the major obstacle that keeps most Christians from becoming the person God made us to be is accepting brokenness. Numerous studies conducted by the Barna Group have revealed that while tens of millions of Americans have uttered the “salvation prayer”, only a small fraction have allowed God to break them of their addictions to sin, self, and society. [George Barna, Maximum Faith: Live Like Jesus, New York:SGG Publications, 2011]. Most American Christians try to have it both ways, attempting to satisfy God by saying the right words while at the same time living a secular-minded life that the culture recognizes and rewards. We know intellectually that it is not possible to live with one foot in both worlds and satisfy God, but we fool ourselves into thinking that we can successfully walk the fine line between these two warring camps. One way to escape the responsibilities of Christian citizenship and try to live in both lifestyles, is to say that politics and the church are two separate areas of life and should not be mixed. That way, when the laws of man conflict with the laws of God we can justify living comfortably two lives.
Make no mistake about it, God wants and deserves all of us. He will not settle for anything less. His terms are nonnegotiable. The prevailing notion among many American Christians that we can be a transformed, mature followers of Christ without being fully broken, surrendered, and totally committed to God is one of the most insidious and widespread lies of this age. But not to be embarrassed, the Bible addresses the Nicolaitans…a group of ‘christians’ who tried to live two lifestyles, ‘holy’ yet reaping the rewards of Roman citizenship and all the sinful acts that included. There are a variety of stops on the path to wholeness. They include such stops as: Confessing our sins and embracing Jesus as Savior; being broken of our sins and selfishness; submitting our will to Him; surrendering control and our agenda in favor of His authority and guidance; loving Him unconditionally; and allowing Him to love other people through us. Unfortunately, research shows that only one out of ten Americans ever gets more than half way to these simple but profound behaviors. [George Barna, Maximum Faith: Live Like Jesus, this text provides data and analysis from more than 17,000 interviews regarding how people grow spiritually and the nature of the journey].
In our culture-driven confusion we focus on deprivation, sacrifice, pain, suffering, hardship, and persecution that God injects into our experience as His route to grasping our attention and causing us to reconsider our ways. We mistakenly assume that once we believe nice things about God and invest a few personal resources into the development of our faith, the appropriate response by our Father should be continual affirmation, comfort, pleasure, rewards, and happiness. That’s primarily because we understand neither the nature of God nor the power of brokenness. Bottom line, we are called to become like Jesus. Jesus suggested that true transformation is about letting God rewire four areas: our minds, emotions, behavior, and spirit. Like the lukewarm believers in Laodicea, we typically allow God to alter one or maybe two of these four centers, but not all four. Unless all four centers are altered we can become comfortable living in a world where God’s principles for living are ‘trumped’ by man’s laws. We can pretend that it is not our responsibility to say something when we see God’s will being trashed. That’s how we have arrived at the government we have today. It has been a slow but focused effort by an evil, secular world to make our Judeo/Christian foundation appear to be evil itself. If this is ever going to change we must invite God to transform us in all four dimensions. With that transformation we can come to the realization that we have obligations to both God and our fellow man. When one is drowning, encouraging words are just not enough. Next week we will look at some suggestions as to how we may let God change these four areas. It requires a deep desire and dedicated effort.
– Bob Munsey