Changeable

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

Galatians 2:20

As Fierce As Lions: How Dare You Label Yourself "Christlike"?

asfierceaslions:

There’s this post that’s been on my dash the past couple of days that’s like “if the world doesn’t know you’re a Christian that’s a problem” blah blah but like um if the world knows you’re a “Christian” only because that’s the label you’ve slapped on yourself and wear with pride but no one knows anything of your love and kindness then that’s a MUCH bigger problem and really how dare you label yourself “Christ-like”?

 There are many, many people who are known as “Christians” not because of their behavior, but because of their self labeling. Who cares if the world knows you’re a “Christian” when it’s probably in title only? There are many people who don’t claim Christianity who are far more Christ-like than many self proclaimed “Christians”. Fact of the matter is, you could behave as much like Christ as you wanted, and many people would probably just assume you were a very kind and caring and good person, rather than assuming that you did these things because you’re a “Christian.”

This is, of course, largely because most people don’t associate actually behaving like Christ with being a “Christian” because of self proclaimed Christians acting nothing of the sort. There is very little merit in everyone being aware that you’re a Christian, for many reasons besides this.

I looked up “Christian” in two dictionaries recently. The current Merriam-Webster dictionary (online) defined “Christian” simply as “one who professes belief in the teachings of Jesus Christ.” My mom’s Webster dictionary, published in the 1970’s, gave a similar definition, but it also had a few meanings that many modern dictionaries do not include: “Exhibiting a charitable spirit proper to a follower of Jesus Christ; Christlike”, and “decent, respectable.” 

How things change.

The Barna Group did a study* of Outsiders (non-believers, atheists, adherants to other faiths, etc) between the ages of 16-29 on their perception of present-day Christianity:

  • 87% believed Christians to be judgmental.
  • 85% viewed Christians as “hypocritical - saying one thing, doing another.”
  • 85% thought Christians were “too involved politically”.
  • 75% considered Christians “out of touch with reality”.
  • 70% perceived Christians as “insensitive to others”.
  • 91% thought Christians are homophobic or “anti-homosexual.”

As to positive traits, very few could connect favorable qualities with Christianity:

  • 10% considered Christianity “relevant to your life.”
  • 11% thought Christians to be “genuine and real” people.
  • 16% knew Christians to be “consistently loving to other people”.
  • 19% believed Christianity “offers hope for the future”.
  • 16% considered it “a faith [I] respect”.

I guess that the question I would ask is this: Do you even want to be considered a “Christian” by those outside the faith if that’s how they are viewing Christianity? Just last night, I spoke with a friend who’s been to maybe two churches in her life, once for a funeral, once for Easter Sunday. She had expressed some interest in Christianity as something she might persue when she got older, but that it would be hard to find a community she could fit into because she “couldn’t go to a church that was just bashing gays and lesbians all the time.”

People, this is how the world views you - 70% of your peers views your faith as boring, while 78% consider your beliefs “old-fashioned.”

Just look at the scandal our faith has become - At best, they see little old ladies in floral-print dresses shuffling into a creaking church, singing hymns that are so old-school no one cares to listen, struggling through their hearing-aids to make out the preaching of a text which has no relevance to the lives of anyone under seventy. Or maybe they see Megachurch pastors jetting around the world with their trophy-wives to vacation in exotic locales as their parishioners suck down a steaming latte from the Starbucks conveniently located in the foyer of their multi-million dollar church complex, blissfully unaware of the suffering going on around the world or just outside their doors as they plan their next pro-gun rally or picket a woman’s health clinic. But, at worst, they see the priests, pastors, and elders molesting children and taking advantage of their young, female (or male) receptionists, or else using church funds to buy sex. They see embezzlement on a grand scale. They see people whose heads are in the clouds, grasping for something that doesn’t make sense. They see the intolerant, shallow-minded kids in their highschools shaming gays/lesbians/anyone different than them.

Of course, I’m a Christian, and I certainly don’t believe that this is all there is to our faith, or even that this is mostly true, but this is the perception of the world around us, kids. And the saddest thing is that Christ said “They shall know you are Christians by your love.”

So, instead of making this about being “Christian”, let’s point this all back to Christ. Instead of making this about winning converts (as many believe it to be), let’s make this about being Christ here, now. His hands and feet. His love. 

*UnChristian: what a new generation really things about Christianity … and why it really matter, Kinnaman and Lyons, Baker Books, 2007. pg. 28,29.

(via both-seeker-and-sought)

Spirit-filled

chaispice:

What if being filled with the Spirit has a lot less to do with uncontrollable-ness, staggering or drunkenness and a lot more to do with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control?

What if it’s a lot less about experience and a lot more about life?

spiritualinspiration:

Today let me reassure you that God knows right where you are, and He knows how to get you to where you need to be. Even when things don’t go the way you planned, His hand is on you. Do not be afraid. Trust that God is working behind the scenes on your behalf, and that He will lead you into the life of blessing that He has prepared for you.

spiritualinspiration:

Today let me reassure you that God knows right where you are, and He knows how to get you to where you need to be. Even when things don’t go the way you planned, His hand is on you. Do not be afraid. Trust that God is working behind the scenes on your behalf, and that He will lead you into the life of blessing that He has prepared for you.

(via efci-faithbook)

Ode.

Sorrow is not in contrived verse,

Nor simple rhyme easily rehears’d.

'Tis in the stopping of a little heart

Before it had ever begun to start.

'Tis bitter blood that doth drip black

Streaming down thy arms, thy back,

As tears flow red, veins spill water,

For the unborn, murdered daughter.



If I might shed this shadow’d case

Secure thy sighs in sweet embrace,

Immaterial by darkness’ shroud to bless

Thy fevered mind with coolness, rest.

If by vigor mortal might frailest hope renew,

Could earthly hands unite spine and sinew,

If by faith wounds be undone,

Then thy battle is conquer’d, won.

 

 

But Healing is not born in clever verse,

Nor Love borne by words rehearse’d,

'Tis in the staunching of hematic flow, 

Shielding shattered rib from cruelest blow,

And I’ve no right to say such things,

For the fearful pain they bring,

Yet I wish still to see blessed morning

Innocent of thy innocence’ mourning.

To be all a Savior ought,

To be all I cannot.


Read More

Show me your hands. Do they have scars from giving? Show me your feet. Are they wounded in service? Show me your heart. Have you left a place for Divine Love?

—Archbishop Fulton Sheen (via daydreamenthusiast)

(via mundacormeum)

The heart of God loves a persevering worshipper who, though overwhelmed by many troubles, is overwhelmed even more by the beauty of God.

—Matt Redman

Cast all your anxiety on Him, because he cares for you.

—1 Peter 5:7 

(via carrieisreborn)

J.S. Park: Question: Who Could Ever Love Me?

jspark3000:

Anonymous asked:

I have the fear that no one will ever love me and have horrible self esteem. So I started lying and acting like I am more interesting then I am and now I don’t even know who I am at all. What I like or what I don’t like has become a facade and I don’t know what to do to get back to the core me. Because of this I am horrified and worried that I lied myself into this idea of Jesus and Christianity. Even if I do figure myself out, I don’t know if i could forgive myself. How do I fix me and be God’s child?

 

Dear friend,

Thank you for your courage to say what most of us would dare never confess. 

There are many of us who are faking it, who feel alone, who secretly think this whole “faith” thing is crazy, who see no way forward — and simply act like it’s fine. This is all part of our human struggle, and it does NOT ever mean you’re unloveable. The very fact that you recognize these things makes you even more of a candidate for God’s unqualifying love.

What I’m seeing from you is the honesty to seek something better. But I think somewhere early in your journey, you believed a lie about yourself, and one lie fed into another, into another, into another, and now you’re so comfortable inside these walls that you can’t imagine anything else.  When you believe a lie, it always increases in energy and momentum and darkness until it’s exposed.

So can we start from the top?  Can we start over? Let’s leave behind those old lies.

You are loved by your Creator, regardless of what you’ve done or who you are or what happens from here, and you can’t do anything about that.  Nothing, I mean nothing, can shake how God feels about you.

Faith, then, is not based on religious activity or behavioral change, but being more and more certain of the reality that God absolutely loves you.

And the truth is, even if you had thousands of friends who liked you and cared for you and hung on your every word — you would still be alone somehow, separated by the invisible walls of communication, limited to the tiny space inside our head and our hearts.  The Only One who can intimately know ALL of you also loves you exactly as you are.  

You don’t need to “try to be God’s child.”  Imagine asking your parents, “How can I be your child?”   It is simply a turn of belief. 

Faith is growing in the certainty of God’s love by the proof of Him sending His Son to die and rise for you, knowing that He wants to spend the rest of eternity with you.

 

When you believe this, then —


You are free from the approval and validation of others.  I know that saying “you’re loved by God” doesn’t just flip a switch, and there will be many days when you still wished for someone to show you some affection.  But human approval is such a fickle thing.  Even in the height of good friendships, we are still limited to how much we can give and receive validation.  It’s okay to want human affection, but it’s possible to drain from others what only God can give you.  Our confidence first comes from the infinite wellspring of God.

You are free to be real with people. You don’t have to impress anyone.  You don’t have to bargain with others for your status, popularity, or good will.  You can be awkward, nervous, anxious, and vulnerable, because your life does NOT depend on other peoples’ perception of your value.  You have an infinite value purchased by the life of Christ.  And if someone wants to judge you outside of this, that’s more reason not to base your life off them anyway.

You are free from self-esteem.  I know everyone has a loop of self-talk that replays over and over.  We are either in self-condemnation or self-exaltation.  But God says you are so loved that you cannot be crushed, and also so loved that you cannot make it on your own.  Be free from the lie that “self-esteem” can make you or break you.  The power of humility is that there is no esteem except the undeserved grace of God which He has given you by the gift of His Son.

You are free from fixing yourself. Do we know anyone who has successfully fixed themselves, ever?  I’ve seen people try, desperately, and fail, miserably.  The Christian’s progress is submitting to the Spirit of God so that He would flex His fruits through you in a powerful display of His glory.  God will do this.  Philippians 1:6 says, “Be confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it unto completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”  In every moment, submit to what God would have you do.  Don’t grade yourself on a scale — and sooner or later, you will have grown in Christ without hardly noticing.  

My dear wonderful friend, I love you and I’m praying for you. As much as I love you, God loves you infinitely more. Believe it. Preach it to yourself. And even when this truth is hardly visible in the stormy seasons of life, hold on by faith. We have a God who does not measure how “much” we believe, but by how much He loves us.

 

“Imagine how a man’s life would be if he trusted that he was loved by God. How could he interact with the poor and not show partiality, he could love his wife easily and not expect her to redeem him, he would be slow to anger because redemption was no longer at stake, he could be wise and giving with his money because money no longer represented points, he could give up on formulaic religion, knowing that checking stuff off a spiritual to-do list was a worthless pursuit, he would have confidence and the ability to laugh at himself, and he could love people without expecting anything in return. It would be quite beautiful, really.”

— Donald Miller

 -J.S.

— J.S.

Regularly recasting sin as dysfunction, ‘less than best,’ or brokenness is seeking to remove the offense of the cross.

Jared C. Wilson

Woah - conviction right there, much. I mean, I think there’s some usefulness in describing the nature of sin as “brokenness” in that we cannot fix ourselves, and in a certain sense there are things in this world we are not at fault for, but at the same time, it’s so much deeper than that. It’s death in our bones and the grave in our hearts and a fire in our laps and murder on our lips and deceit in our hearts and it’s everything we shouldn’t be but cannot beat, even if we wanted to.

(via johnnyis)