It sure is nice when it’s hot to have someone offer you a ice cold drink isn’t it. Or if it’s bitter cold, a steaming mug of coffee or hot chocolate is wonderful. But what if someone gave you a cup full of worms, maggots, filth and told you to drink it, would you? What if it was offered by someone you loved and cared about? You’d probably question your sanity for loving them, and definitely question if they loved you. But what if you were given the option of seeing your loved ones and friends, people you care about die, or drink it? Could you do it?
I don’t like to think about whether I could or not, but I do have to think about the cup Jesus was offered. Think of that cup filled with every filth, every evil deed and thought, every immorality, every lie, every murder, abuse and hurt; mean, spiteful and greedy act or intent, every bit of malicious gossip, back biting, hateful, hypocritical and corrupt infliction done… every unfair, thoughtless and perverse, mindless and willful behavior and every insensitive, uncaring and angry, lustful, inappropriate, pathetic responses and conduct ever perpetrated… or let the world die in their filth.
I thank God, that Jesus drank that cup for me, so I wouldn’t have to. A cup that was meant for me, for all of us to drink and yet He who is so pure and spotless basically said, Give it here. I will drink this.
People might question God’s love for His only begotten Son, or for us that He required a sacrifice acceptable enough that would wipe all our sins away, but it’s because of His love that He required such a sacrifice so that we could be reconciled back to Him who made us.
It’s been said that Jesus won the victory at the cross, and that He did- by defeating sin and death, but He won the battle in the Garden that night over 2000 years ago, when He agonizingly considered that cup of every sin and shame, and said, nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.
Lets switch gears for a bit, and consider a few things going on in the world today concerning the Christian faith. One, there are quite a few people who have publicly declared they’re leaving the faith, and no longer consider Christianity the only ‘truth’. The more I read about these people and their stories a few things jump out at me, because they are so similar. The main reasons they leave are: Christianity is only one way to the same God and who are they to say their way is right; Christianity is oppressive; they just don’t feel real living their Christian lies; and because they got hurt, and God didn’t stop it.
Many of these folks come from semi religious upbringing, meaning their parents were luke warm, but as kids, they went to church, most even went to youth group. Many of them Catholic or hard core Pentecostal or fundamentalist independent. Another similar point made by many of these formers, are that you wouldn’t find anyone more zealous, fundamental, stronger in the faith, or active in the church than they.
I find all of these things in years of looking at studies and articles interesting because it tells a lot about the state of the church today in the west, and a lot about what people really believe Christianity is. To many Christians, they don’t have a real sense of why they are Christian, just that they are- then point to the many things they ‘do’ as proof.
I’ve heard it asked before that if someone was going to try and convict you of being a Christian, how much evidence would they find to convict you?
Going to church every week, once, twice or every time it’s open doesn’t make you a Christian. Going to Bible study or youth group every week doesn’t one a Christian either, anymore than sitting in a garage studying an auto guide makes you a mechanic.
What else. Hmmm… feeling all spiritual during ‘worship’ time definitely doesn’t make you a Christian, and feelings aren’t proof of the Holy Spirit either. Other religions also have speaking in tongues, feelings of euphoria and being caught in a spirit. One needs to understand spiritual warfare and how the enemy disguises himself to understand what separates Christian faith from other beliefs. That difference is Jesus, Who He is and what we believe from His Word.
But even reading the Bible every day doesn’t make us Christian. A Christian is simply one who follows Jesus. And to follow Him, isn’t always going to be an attractive, lucrative, comfortable, warm and fuzzy, or even glamorous thing to do.
Following Jesus means to model ourselves after Him, trusting Him to help us become more like Him, the author and perfecter of our faith. Believing His Word, and being obedient to His Word.
Be Holy as I Am Holy. Deny yourself, pick up your cross and follow me…
The Word of the Word is one of the things that helps those discerning the true followers from those who are Christian in name only. They are sincere in their faith- and might even believe that they love Jesus, but if they loved Jesus, they would follow Jesus- no matter where He led them to. They would understand that hardships, trials and hurts in life aren’t necessarily caused by God, but used by God to mold us into stronger and more faithful people who can learn from and use our hurts, failures and struggles to help others go through the same.
Following Jesus is following in His steps, which aren’t easy, but is victorious and rewarding. Life isn’t easy, but it’s a whole lot better going through it knowing without a doubt that He is with you every step of the way.
Being a Christian believer, a disciple and follower of Jesus isn’t about feelings, because love isn’t all about feelings either. People who expect to feel the love, in order to believe or love Jesus back need to think for a minute about human love and relationships- I don’t care how perfect a marriage or best friendship is, there will be times through those relationships when you don’t ‘feel’ all the emotions one feels when they love and care about someone. Its the same thing in our relationship with Jesus. We can love Him and know we’re loved by Him, but not just because we feel it.
The point is, not enough Christians consider the cost of what it takes to follow Jesus, and the cost is often high. I could repeat quote after quote that tells this truth, but one only needs to look at the persecution many believers have and still go through because they build the foundation of their faith on Jesus, and are willing to suffer what He suffered for His sake and the sake of His Word.
Too many (and I was one for a long time) Christians don’t understand or consider the relationship, and how one has to work at a relationship in order for it to grow. And in any relationship, there are times when you have to do things you don’t feel like, or want to, because you want to please or help the person you love. While Jesus doesn’t need our help, we help others in His Name, as His ambassadors, because we want to please Him and because we care enough about people to want them to have a relationship with Him too.
Too many people believe that being a Christian means living a good and fulfilling life now, by being a good person. And that the more giving you are, the more you’ll get back, and that God wants us happy. Yes, He wants us to be joy filled, but does it always come with material things? Maybe sometimes, but not always. Paul teaches us that we can rejoice through all circumstances, whether in times of plenty, or lean times, times of persecution and times of hardships. Life isn’t going to be full of material blessings once you become a Christian. Blessings come in all shapes and sizes and while material ones are good, it’s not what we should be striving for.
Following Jesus isn’t easy, and talking about following Him in truth and obedience is something most people draw the line at. That’s when they come up with every excuse to deny the Lord and blame it on Christianity.
To follow Jesus, we need to really think about Him as well as considering all that He did and all He gave for us.
Jesus isn’t religion, and He’s not Christianity. I feel bad for those who think they have broken free from Christianity because of religion, because religion and Christianity isn’t the Savior who loves them.
Christians aren’t perfect, and Christian leaders are not perfect, only Jesus is perfect and worth following. Only He is worthy.
But He loves us anyway…
Have a blessed day all.