Monday, 26 August 2013

For Christ's Sake!

"And every one that has forsaken houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands for My name’s sake shall receive a hundredfold and shall inherit eternal life." Matthew 19:29 (Jubilee Bible 2000)

It's hard to imagine what it must have been like for the first century Christians when we live in a 21st Century Western Society. They were put into situations where they lost everything for the sake of following Jesus. Paul notes that even a husband or wife may not be someone they keep in their lives if it means compromising their faith. Today we intermarry with unbelievers, we miss whether people are actually born again or if they just make the right sounds. It's hard to spot because of how the World has learned to imitate the language of the Church. Actually, it's more that the church (note - small "c") talks a language so filled with the World as to be impossible to separate them, or jargon so hard to understand that it drives away everyone not raised in the church - and to complicate matters, not all churches use the same jargon.

Jesus was a simple man with a simple message. He spoke in a simple manner to the ordinary people and they followed Him in droves. After the resurrection and ascension the disciples were endowed with the Holy Spirit. That resulted in Power being released. 5000 added by Peter's first sermon. But then the believers did something incredible:

"Now the multitude of those who believed were of one heart and one soul; neither did anyone say that any of the things he possessed was his own, but they had all things in common. And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And great grace was upon them all. Nor was there anyone among them who lacked; for all who were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the proceeds of the things that were sold, and laid them at the apostles’ feet; and they distributed to each as anyone had need." (Acts 4:32-35)

For the sake of the Gospel, Jesus's sake, they willingly gave up their posessions so all the members could be fed, clothed, housed. All who were landowners, not some. Later, when 2 followers pretend to give up the full price when really holding back, they were struck down and died when confronted with the Truth.

The key to the early Church was in Acts 4:32. They were of one heart and one soul. Unified in a way that the denominations can't match within themselves, never mind collectively. Unity is the central theme of the Gospel. Unity between God and Man, unity between believers. A new union where restoration of relationship is not only possible, but, from what we see in the early chapters of Acts, was spontaneous and crossed boundaries of class and status. Slaves and owners shared as brothers and sisters and the relationships were built as equals in Christ.

We need to get back to the basics of that Spirit led life. The World has fallen to Satan long ago, but restoration has been given. As far as we know, at no point in history have so many individuals lived on this small blue planet as do now. And we're more divided than ever.

Denis Leary did a sketch a while ago where he suggested Christ didn't return because of the number of people wearing crosses, likening it to wishing JFK's widow well while wearing a pin replica of Lee-Harvey Owsald's rifle. Whilst he may have been trying to shock and may even been trying to be blasphemous in his act, it made me think about what the Cross actually means, what it stands for in my Faith, and the mess we make of trying to show Christ to the World. That which should be uniting us drives us apart because of the ludicrous interpretations and meanings spun into the simple teachings of Jesus intended to draw us to Him.

We don't give ourselves the chance to be united by Christ because of the smokescreen blown across our minds by the Enemy. His plan to divide and conquer has proven to be disturbingly effective for 2000 years. We have lost the simplicity of the message of Christ and with it we have lost the unity that gave the first century Christians their passion and power.

So for our sake, we need to do reclaim the simplicity of the message for Christ's sake!

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Politically or Biblically Correct

I follow the Christian Musician Carman on my facebook page. His music has inspired me for mor years than I care to admit I can remember some days, and a dear friend of mine over a decade younger than me when we were discussing Christian artists a while ago asked "Who's he?", which since he's still active REALLY made me feel old!

Today he posted a picture on his page:

 I clicked "like" automatically, but it's been on my mind ever since.

We compromise our faith every day without thinking about it. We apologise for offending people with Biblical Truth, and worse, we say nothing when our beliefs are minimised.

Burger King recently opened up in South Africa. McDonald's and KFC have been here for some time. Now when I lived in the UK I used to really enjoy a Bacon Whopper. In Cape Town you can't get one because it's not Halal.

Seriously? Not Halal? McDonald's and KFC are also Muslim friendly and have been deemed Halal places to eat.

I realised today that I compromise when I eat there now. If you google halal food you can find a list of requirements of what makes this meat halal. One of these requirements is that the phrase “Bismillah” (In the Name of Allah) should be invoked immediately before the slaughter of each animal.

Every piece of halal meat has been sacrificed to an idol.

Now I'm probably going to put noses out of joint by saying this, but if you're offended by this comment, why are you reading a Christian writer's Blog in the first place?

Food is food. But why should we be forced to eat halal food? Allah is a false god and we still find ourselves doing the politically correct thing of having Western owned commercial giants changing their foods to suit a minority.

Now this is a small example, obviously, but it's something that we must be aware of if we are to live in a Christ-like way. I buy halal meat from time to time if there's no other available, but most of my cooking includes a drop of wine or a dash of brandy in the process, rendering it no longer halal anyway, b ut that's beside the point.

We have a problem in that we live in a way that subtly undermines our Biblical principles. The genocide in Rwanda, the ethnic cleansing of central Europe caused an outcry, but there is a point where life starts - in the womb - where it has no value. The baby, a human created in God's image, is "aborted" in the name of convenience. 

And each year hundreds of times the numbers killed in the Nazi death camps are exterminated.

My wife is a doctor. A GP. I couldn't do her job, and she struggles sometimes. Her job requires her to give the World's perspective on sex. Use a condom. She is not supposed to say "If you don't have sex you won't get pregnant, AIDS, hepatitis, syphilis etc". I couldn't do that job. The simple statement "Wait for marriage" is deemed to be judgemental and antiquated by the World. Man's "wisdom" says "make sure you're sexually compatible before taking the plunge". God says "Wait for marriage"

Man is now saying "marriage between two people irrespective of their gender is the same". Christians I know have voted for the legalisation of same-sex marriage. It's not Politically correct to take a stand for God's values. God says a marriage is between a man and a woman. But if we voice this we are laughed at or accused of homophobia. I'm not homophobic. I have no fear of homosexuals. But my marriage is a Sacred Covenant ordained by God, and the World seeks to diminish it by saying it is equal to a homosexual partnership.

When it happened in Sodom and Gomorrah, it didn't end well for the cities. The Sin that made God destroy those cities wasn't homosexuality per se. It was that homosexuality was no longer considered to be a sinful act. We hear cries of "I was born like this" or "I was made like this by my upbringing". 

Sin is Sin. If God said "no", why do we allow ourselves to say "maybe"?

"It's not practical", "you can't control young people", "it's normal". The statements corrupt Biblical correctness at evey utterance. Especially with sex. My wife and I hired 5 different TV series this week: 2 1/2 Men, Burn Notice, Dollhouse and Sanctuary. Sex plays a dominant theme in all of them. Subtle in some, less so in others, but the message is the same. Consequences of sex are never touched on because it's not Politically correct. When an actor in a show starts to question the morality of his own series he is derided for it. I can't think of a single TV series I've seen in the last 20 years that doesn't feature sex as a theme. It even permeated things like Star Trek and Stargate.

We need to take a stand. Biblical Correctness over Political.

It permeates everything. When I was at school we were taught the year was BC or AD according to history. Now it's BCE and CE - because Anno Domini is offensive to non-Christians. And we sit here and take it. CE or Common Era should be offensive to Christians. We should be allowed to have our voices heard. The date system wasn't changed, so why change the label? We still measure time from the estimated date of Christ's Birth, so why not BC and AD?

Politically Correct but morally corrupt.

In one song, Carman sings "when people would rather come out of the closet than clean it, it's the sign the judgement of God is about to fall".

Let's move back to being Biblically correct. Yes, we'll be persecuted for it. But maybe we need to be. We've got soft. The first century (AD) Christians were killed rather than be politically correct.

It's time we took that stand again.