zondag 24 november 2013

Another gospel

1 Cor. 9:22-23

22 When I am with people whose faith is weak, I live as they do to win them. I do everything I can to win everyone I possibly can. 23 I do all this for the good news, because I want to share in its blessings.

Col. 2:20-23

20 You died with Christ. Now the forces of the universe don't have any power over you. Why do you live as if you had to obey such rules as, 21 “Don't handle this. Don't taste that. Don't touch this.”? 22 After these things are used, they are no longer good for anything. So why be bothered with the rules that humans have made up? 23 Obeying these rules may seem to be the smart thing to do. They appear to make you love God more and to be very humble and to have control over your body. But they don't really have any power over our desires.

I am someone who easily adapts to different cultures, circumstances and people. For me to be a Jew with the Jew and Greek with the Greek is actually something I enjoy. However, there is a big pitfall there and often I have fallen into it. To be able to adapt is good but one should be careful what one adapts to, and for what purpose. Paul’s focus was Christ and the Gospel of Christ. With that focus in mind he was willing to give up a lot of his personal freedoms and preferences in order to save some. However, we should not adapt to other people’s wishes and preferences simply for the sake of wanting to be liked. Nor should we adapt out of fear of rejection or abandonment.  This is one pitfall I have often fallen into and in the process also compromised my walk with Christ. The word of God warns us not to become unequally yoked with unbelievers. This does not just mean those who are not Christians, but includes those who call themselves Christians but do not live a Christ-like life. It also includes those who follow a different gospel than the gospel of grace and love taught by Christ.  I have realised that in relationships, even within Christian ministry I have often compromised and adapted too much and gotten myself entangled and unequally yoked with people whose gospel consists of ‘don’t do this’, ‘you shouldn’t have done that’, ‘you must do this’, ‘you must be like this....’. Such a gospel may have the appearance of godliness but it is characterised by self-righteous perfectionism, pretending to be better than thou. The followers of such a false gospel condemn or look down upon those who err, magnify the errors of others but hide or down play and even deny their own wrongs. It is a false gospel which sadly can be found in virtually every Christian tradition. Those who live according to the gospel of grace and love, and the gospel of no-condemnation for those who belong to Christ (Rom. 8:1ff) should be careful not to get unequally yoked with them. If we take their heavy yoke upon ourselves rather than the yoke of Christ (which is light) as we adapt to their rules and demands we may end up heavy laden or emulating their judgemental attitude which has more in common with the Pharisees than with Christ who in compassion and grace says, I do not condemn you, but go and sin no more.

woensdag 20 november 2013

Be born again

Being-born again is not a magical process which changes you from an unsaved law-less person to someone who follows a set of religious rules and regulations which befitting a middle or upper-class gentleman or lady. Being truly born-again means that our inner philosophy, the inner conviction we are driven by is changed by the Holy Spirit who fills us with the love of God. This love is poured out by God’s Holy Spirit in our hearts when we surrender our lives to Christ in response to the gospel of God’s love, grace, mercy and forgiveness for us. This love then enables us to live in accordance with the Great Commandment of Jesus Christ. Sadly many self-confessed born again Christians are actually driven by other driving forces/motivations than the love of Christ. They may in truth be driven by idols such as a desire for status, respectability, success, control, influence, power, money, possessions, material security, being liked, being admired, being loved, sex and so on. No-one who is an idolater can be full of God and the love of God, for God is a Holy God and He does not share our hearts with idols.

zondag 10 november 2013

Do we need revolution?

In a world where government structures are often oppressive many people want to fight the system. However, the more we fight the status quo, the more likely we are to embrace it for by our very fight we validate its existence and affirm its powerful influence. It is the same process that makes it more likely for children of alcoholics becoming alcoholics themselves even after having vowed never to do so. So we see marxists becoming even worse capitalists than the ones they fought and liberation fighters and anarchists becoming worse dicators and setting up more oppressive systems than the ones they fought. Victims become victimisers and so on. Jesus, however, did not start a revolution fighting the system but he provided us with a different way of viewing and living reality from the perspective of the Kingdom of God. It is when we learn to view and approach all things from His perspective we ourselves will be revolutionised and make a constructive impact in the world.