Drop The Religious Pants

Drop The Religious Pants

“I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”

-Mohandas Gandhi

The idea of this post came from a conversation I was having that later led to a status I posted about a week ago. It said, “We are called to unbuckle the Bible belt and drop the religious pants.” Its humorous, but so true at the same time. I want to expand on that thought a little bit.

Lets start with a story:

Back when I was in college, there was a high school boy who was killed in a motorcycle accident. The boy happened to be a homosexual. The funeral was taking place outside on the actual burial site. A few of us from my university got word that people from the Westboro Baptist Church were going to picket the boy’s funeral. We also got word that many of the locals from Tulsa were going to be unifying, and building a human-wall to keep the people from WBC out. So we hopped into our cars, and started heading towards the funeral. We finally arrived and our mouths dropped as soon as we saw hundreds of people everywhere starting to form this massive circle wall. There were at least 600-800 people taking part of this wall, so we jumped right in and joined the group. There were even biker gangs that showed up with their bikes, and they were revving their engines as loud as possible in preparation to cover the horrible comments about God’s lack of love for homosexuals that the people from WBC would be screaming. After standing for over an hour, the people from WBC finally showed up. They did a quick drive by to see if they could get in and I kid you not, many of them stuck out their middle finger and said “F@#* You!”, and then they drove off. Suddenly there was a big roar of people cheering and clapping. It felt like a victory. The family was able to give their son the respectable funeral he deserved. At the end of the ceremony, the family came up to all of us in tears thanking us for our love and compassion.

This is obviously an extreme case of religiosity, but the point of that story was to highlight two things that everyone who took part in the human-wall had in common: love & compassion. Strangers rallied together showing compassion, and showing love to a family they did not even know. How is it that a group of strangers, who most of them were probably not saved, can show more love than the religious people of our day?

How many Christians make signs that say “God Hates Fags”?

How many Christians turn homeless people away at their church doors?

How many Christians see a need and ignore their ability to help?

How many Christians engage in gossip verses closing the door on rumors?

How many churches lift their Pastor in prayer if he has an immoral fallout?

How many Christians forget they live by grace?

How many Christians see church as just another item on their checklist?

How many Christians observe worship rather than engaging in the glorification of their Savior?

How many people go on missions trips, take pictures with little HIV children, and then leave without ever knowing their name?

How many religious groups actually hurt the world rather than build the kingdom of God?

Gandhi answered these questions the best: 

“I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”

Let this post not be a dig on Christians, but rather a challenge for us to think through our actions. Let us filter our actions through the cross of Jesus Christ, and through the message of 1 Corinthians 13:2.

1 Corinthians 13:2 says, “And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.”

Religious people can give religion a bad name. 

Religious people struggle with making works, duties, and appearing spiritual their focus, whether they know it or not. Although, religious groups do have the potential to change the world if they would only follow the example of Christ. The simple solution to this problem is for us Christians to adjust our worldview, and filter our lives through the command of love without sacrificing our biblical convictions.

Thirst

Thirst Banner #1

“In the last day, that great [day] of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink.”

- John 7:37

“I thirst for You. You’re the well that won’t run dry. Only You can satisfy. I thirst for You. Living water flow to me. All I ask is just one drink. I thirst for You.” 

- Phil Wickham

In this new year my church is launching nights of worship called, “Thirst”. We are doing this for two reasons: 1) To give an opportunity for those thirsty in our church body to come and be filled, and 2) to create a culture of worship in our church. Our main reason for making this decision was based on the question, “How are we going have a movement of God through worship if we are not offering extra time for worship outside of Sunday mornings?” Here at my church we genuinely desire to be more than just the average church in a city that is full of them. We believe this is one step to becoming something different than the norm.

When we taste something amazing (sweet, rich, flavorful, spicy) we long for it again and again. When we have a favorite restaurant, we count down the days until we get our paycheck so we can feast. So far in Charlotte I feel this way towards Cabbos Tacos, Heist Brewery, and Not Just Coffee. (If you are nearby you must visit these places.)

The Lord is longing for us. If we chose to long for Him we will then encounter Him frequently. It says in Isaiah 30:18, “Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show you compassion. For the LORD is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him!” It saddens me when I hear people say that they haven’t felt the Lord’s presence in years or haven’t felt fired to impact His kingdom. That translates to me saying they have lost their thirst for Him. Of course it is not easy to stay thirsty. There are always dry seasons, but the Lord always has a purpose. He is always teaching us something about Him.

A mentor of mine once told me, “In order to stay thirsty you must be consistently pouring out and impacting others, then you will have enough room to be poured into again. You do not want to be like a cup that is too full to accept any more water.” Some evangelicals like to use the phrase “overflow” into others when referring to the cup metaphor, but I am taking it from a different perspective. I think by not overflowing yourself, you can be intentional on where you want to pour your cup. (figuratively speaking)

I have seen this so many times before. Some people have an amazing encounter with Christ and then they go about their time thinking they are invincible and they lose track of staying thirsty. They stop seeking. They stop knocking. These are the people who usually end up hurt, dry, burned out, or lost. It’s like they forgot about their favorite restaurant that once meant so much to them.

This post is about reminding us to stay thirsty. I have truly found that the Lord is not boring. He is constantly staying mysterious and doing different things. We are called to be a Thirsty Generation. We are called to be a people who desperately seek Christ.

How do we thirst for Christ?

By making the decision in our minds and hearts that we truly want to know Christ deeper than ever before.  

How do we stay thirsty?

By spending time with Him of course.

Set aside some time for prayer, worship, fasting, outreach, studying His word, pouring into others, and even taking walks in nature. 

By thirsting we are expecting to drink and receive, and we DO receive! We might not always know it or feel it, but again the Lord is mysterious and is always teaching with a purpose. My challenge to you is to find that thirst for Christ. Do what you need to do. Spend extra time with Him and get to know Him. It will change your life.

Before you go. I stumbled upon this passage in a book the other day by one of my favorite authors. It applies to this post.

 “Are you not thirsty?” said the Lion.

“I’m dying of thirst,” said Jill.

“Then drink,” said the Lion.

“May I—could I—would you mind going away while I do?” said Jill.

The Lion answered this only by a look and a very low growl. And as Jill gazed at its motionless bulk, she realized that she might as well have asked the whole mountain to move aside for her convenience.

The delicious rippling noise of the stream was driving her nearly frantic.

“Will you promise not to—do anything to me, if I do come?” said Jill.

“I make no promise,” said the Lion.

Jill was so thirsty now that, without noticing it, she had come a step nearer.

“Do you eat girls?” she said.

“I have swallowed up girls and boys, women and men, kings and emperors, cities and realms,” said the Lion. It didn’t say this as if it were boasting, nor as if it were sorry, nor as if it were angry. It just said it.

“I daren’t come and drink,” said Jill.

“Then you will die of thirst,” said the Lion.

“Oh dear!” said Jill, coming another step nearer. “I suppose I must go and look for another stream then.”

“There is no other stream,” said the Lion.

It never occurred to Jill to disbelieve the Lion—no one who had seen his stern face could do that—and her mind suddenly made itself up. It was the worst thing she had ever had to do, but she went forward to the stream, knelt down, and began scooping up water in her hand. It was the coldest, most refreshing water she had ever tasted. You didn’t need to drink much of it, for it quenched your thirst at once.

-C.S. Lewis from The Silver Chair

Beings of Incredible Love

Beings of Incredible Love copy

“With each choice we make for love, the less choices for love we have to make.”

- Gregory Boyd

“Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.”

- Matthew 16:24

What makes us beings of free choice?

What separates us from animals?

What defines morality, truth, love, and freedom?

Many people argue that we were not created from God and that we simply came from the atmosphere that was capable of producing amino acids from inorganic substances. The questions here are, “what created the atmosphere?” and, “who created inorganic substances?”  There is always a cause that causes something else. The first cause ever, just might have been caused by a creator, who is uncaused.

What is the name for an uncaused creator?  

God.

(Who intelligently designs things.) 

Now, I am by no means a scientist or a philosophical professor, so I will go no further in scientific arguments or philosophical theories. I just wanted to open up our discussion with this perspective in mind.

To answer the three questions from the beginning:

Our uncaused Creator gives us free choice.

Our ability to rationalize, know morality, and have intelligence separates us from animals.

Throughout the Bible: truth, morality, love, and freedom are defined.

(please follow the scriptural links below to make biblical references)

Truth - (John 14:6) (John 8:32)

Morality - (Romans 13:8-10) (Mark 7:20-23)

Love – (John 13:34) (1 Cor. 13:4-7) (Romans 13:10)

Freedom – (Galatians 5:1) (1 Peter 2:16) (Galatians 5:13)

All of this to say, we are beings who have the opportunity to make the choice of acting on love. Our Divine Causer, created us in the womb (Jer 1:5). He gave us the mind to rationalize, to make choices, and to understand love. Because of this, we have the power to do incredible things here on earth. We have the power to change someones life. We have the power to make a difference in a dark world. We have the power to love.

Ways of loving can look different for everyone. We can love by helping people out financially. We can love by speaking words of encouragement to people. We can love by listening to people when they talk to us. We can love by giving someone a smile. We can love by giving our hands and feet for acts of service. We can love by feeding the poor. We can love by finding the poor jobs. We can love by not speaking negative things behind peoples back. I could go on. There are millions of ways to show love.

When it comes down to it,  love is an incredible thing and we can be beings of this incredible love. It takes daily dying to ourselves, picking up our cross, and following Christ. Simply reflecting the love of Christ through our actions, here on earth, is a way we can love.

This is just a challenge and an encouragement for you today. We have been given the freedom to make choices. We have been given the freedom to make the choice to love.

How can there be love if there was no choice to love?

Let’s choose wisely today.

-Will