It’s been a while since I posted anything because I have had so many random thoughts, but none of them have developed into what I would consider a full topic worthy of posting. So, while I was sitting here pondering this, it hit me that maybe I should put fingers to keyboard and let if fly. Got your seatbelt on? Lets go!
I’ve spent some time over the last 2 days studying this wonderful passage of scripture. This teaching sermon was specifically for the disciples and was designed to strengthen their understanding of the kingdom of God. But, you can not deny that what was said had a profound effect on the crowd that gathered around to listen in. In Matthew 7:28, it says that the crowd “were astonished at his teaching, for he taught as one who had authority, and not as their scribes.” This made me think about the church as a whole. A pastor puts together a sermon to feed, strengthen and inspire God’s people (the disciples). But the curious, the seekers, the doubters who show up to check it out are always welcomed because you never know when the Spirit-anointed, authoritative preaching of the Word will reach out and awaken something within them and draw them to Christ. But what really got me was the ratio. There was the One, Jesus, surrounded by the 12, the disciples, who were in turn surrounded by a crowd of curious, skeptical, doubting, searching onlookers. We are not given an indication of how large this crowd was, but I’ve got a pretty good idea of why they were there. They had come to check out this man named Jesus. They had heard about him and what he was doing and they wanted to see for themselves.
So, how come it is, that in this situation, there were more curious people checking Jesus out than there were disciples getting a Word from God? In the modern Church, it seems to be the other way around. The Church has a few curious people stop in every now and again and a lot of disciples sitting there hearing the Word. Is it because those of us in the church are hearers of the Word and not doers of the Word? I submit that if we were more involved with doing what the Word says, we couldn’t keep the curious from beating the doors down to find out what was going on with the church. Granted, not everyone will respond, but some of them would.
Have you ever been called a narrow minded individual? I sure have! That used to frustrate me because I don’t see myself as being too terribly narrow minded. But lately, I’ve gotten to where when someone says that to me I take it as a compliment.
Have you ever seen someone who is extremely successful in business? I can think of a few names: Warren Buffet, Bill Gates, Donald Trump, Carol Bartz (CEO of Yahoo), Michael Dell, Oprah Winfrey and Martha Stewart are just a few that I can rattle off. I can guarantee you that not a single one of these people took an open minded approach to getting to where they are now. Can you see Donald Trump being open minded about one of his employee’s sub-par performance? Most of us have seen his stern look as he says, “you’re fired! Go, Get out!” on his reality show. Everyone of the people I listed had to have a pretty defined view of what they wanted and how they were going to achieve that goal. They were focused and pretty narrow minded about it, and look where they are now.
How can it be any less for those of us who call themselves Christians? Our goal is not a worldly goal of amassing tremendous wealth, or big houses, lots of cars, and all the other trappings we associate with success and wealth. Our goal is to become a more fully devoted follower of Jesus Christ, reaching out to a lost and dying world to pull others from death to life so that they can journey along the path with us. Looking back at the giants of faith like King David, the Apostles, John Calvin, Charles Spurgeon, John Wesley, Smith Wigglesworth and Aimee Semple McPherson, they all had a pretty narrow focus. They set their eyes on Christ and Christ alone and some of us are walking in The Way today because of them.
Seems to me that if you want to be successful in either a business setting, or as a Christian, you have to be pretty narrow minded.
Judgment Begins in the House of God
14 So be happy when you are insulted for being a Christian, for then the glorious Spirit of Gods rests upon you. 15 If you suffer, however, it must not be for murder, stealing, making trouble, or prying into other people’s affairs. 16 But it is no shame to suffer for being a Christian. Praise God for the privilege of being called by his name! 17 For the time has come for judgment, and it must begin with God’s household. And if judgment begins with us, what terrible fate awaits those who have never obeyed God’s Good News? 18 And also, “If the righteous are barely saved, what will happen to godless sinners?”
1 Peter 4:14-18 NLT
I’ve known for quite some time that tact and subtlety are not my strongest characteristics. I usually call it like I see it and have found myself at odds with fellow believers in the church on more than one occasion. I have been labeled as hard, uncaring and other terms a little less flattering. I will admit that at times these things are probably true. But, in light of the scripture above, I think a lot of people in the church are getting a watered down, feel good gospel and I will not stand by and say nothing on the issue.
A while back, I had the opportunity to sit down and talk to someone about some concerns and frustrations I had in the church where my wife and I attend. I won’t go into the specifics of my concerns, but they were legitimate issues that Jesus talked about and we have the record of. After I voiced my concerns, I was asked by the man I was talking to if I thought the pastor of the church was a bad pastor. “No,” I answered, “I don’t think he is a bad pastor, but I think a lot of the things that are happening in the church are a bad reflection on him as the leader of the church and they are also a hindrance to future growth.” I was then told that it sounded like I would just start throwing people out of the church because they didn’t measure up to my standards. At that moment, I knew that the conversation would not go any farther. It isn’t so much that people in the church didn’t measure up to my standards as it did measuring up to God’s standard. I will concede that I do not have a grasp on the sum total of God’s standards. I, as well as everyone else, am a work in progress. But when we “settle” for anything less than our best; when we as Christians don’t give our all, we are doing a disservice to the Gospel and our Lord and Savior who gave His all.
I believe with all my heart that if the body of Christ doesn’t get our act together, fall on our face, humble ourselves and seek first the kingdom of God, His judgment will begin to fall on us like what happened to the Israelites when they wandered around in the desert for 40 years. A whole generation had to die, except for Joshua and Caleb, before the people of God could move forward and inherit the promise. I want to be a part of His promise. I don’t want to see a generation of people die before it can happen.
As you can see, I’ve had several things on my mind. Whether you agree with me or not, leave me some feedback and maybe give me a bit more to think about. Be blessed!