Monday, December 31, 2007

Be a Revolutionary in 2008

(The River Raisin in Monroe, taken from the back of our property)

Want to do something radical and revolutionary in 2008? Why not follow Jesus?

I am not talking about being a “Christian.” Can we admit that there are a whole lot of people in America, and probably right here in Monroe, that call themselves “Christians” but do not really follow Jesus? Personally, I don’t think the word “Christian” is worth a lot anymore. As the atheist Nietzsche said years ago, for him it was Christians who gave Jesus a bad name.

Just follow Jesus. I am not talking about perfection or a holier-than-thou-ness. None of us are perfect. Being imperfect is not being hypocritical. Calling yourself a Christian and not following Jesus, not actually following Him and embracing Him and worshiping Him - that is hypocrisy. Hypocrisy hurts the cause of Christ more than atheism does.

I am talking about the heart. My heart, and your heart. A heart that is passionate about… Jesus. A heart that longs to know Jesus. A heart that longs to make Jesus known to others. A heart that has come to Jesus and been flooded by living waters. A heart that knows Jesus. Jesus rejected the superfical self-righteousness of the Pharisees. He always went deeper than that. He was going after the heart. My heart, and your heart. Your heart was made by Him and for Him. He wants your heart. This can be you!

I am not talking about intellectual “knowledge.” In the Bible, “knowing” is an intimate experiential thing. Do I know my wife? Oh yes. Her name is Linda, she’s 5′6″ tall, she loves sushi, she plays piano, she grew up in Illinois, etc. etc. ad infinitum. But of course that kind of knowledge is superficial knowledge, and if that’s all I know in regard to Linda both I and she are in trouble. The real question is: do I know her heart, and does she know my heart?

Do you know Jesus? Not… “know about” Jesus. The demons know about Jesus, maybe more than you or I do. Are you close to Jesus? Does Jesus have your heart? There will be some to whom Jesus says, “I never knew you.” Meaning: “you never got close to me and followed after me.” Where are you with this?

I am not talking about using Jesus to find “prosperity” for your own self. That’s neither revolutionary or radical. That is not the real Gospel. How do I know this? You can see this for yourself simply by reading Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. A lot of what is on TV in the name of Jesus is not really about Jesus. It’s just American materialism co-opting the message of Jesus to advance their own earthly kingdoms. Reject that. Find it truly dull and uninteresting. Jesus is far, far more radical and revolutionary than this.

Why not join Jesus’ real family in 2008? What might that mean? Jesus Himself said that whoever does the will of God are His brothers and sisters. It’s all about following Jesus as King and Lord. It’s all about being a disciple. If someone is not a disciple, an actual follower, are they a “Christian?” More and more, I doubt it. Of course I am not the judge of any of this. But again, read the 4 Gospels and show me where someone is a “Christian” and not a disciple. You won’t find it.

Obey Jesus. To do this you’ve got to die to your own self. You’ve got to deny your ego-self every day and take up the cross and follow Him. But must we be flawless in this? No. Remember, it’s all about the heart, your heart. Does God captivate you? Does He fascinate you? Do you hunger and thirst for God? Is it #1 for you to seek after the kingdom of God and His righteousness?

Personally, I want to be a better, truer follower of Jesus in 2008 than I have ever been. I want God to use me to release people from the darkness of going after money, sex, and power. I want to be further released from the dark power of these things in my own soul. And I want the “Christian-religious” stuff cast out of me so that I might be encountered by the Living God. The more I read the actual words of Jesus the more I see the distance between what I understand and my flawed heart. Yet, because I (and you) are hugely loved by Jesus, I am drawn to be more like Him.

Reject the false gods of Money, Sex, and Power. They enslave. They are not radical, but commonplace. Increasingly I find them boring, tedious, and harsh. They create addicts who are never, ever satisfied in this life. Show me a money-addict, a sex-addict, or a power addict who got satisfied and achieved contentment - I don’t think you can. Personally, I have known addiction, and I want out. I am more interested than ever in the way out of that kind of slavery. I believe the way out is found in Jesus. It’s all about freedom, and Jesus said, if we follow after Him, we will know the truth, and the truth will set us free from our dark addictions.

Be a radical in 2008. Be a revolutionary. If any historical figure was, surely it was Jesus of Nazareth. Follow after Him. Put down all the Christian books for a while and read the original documents. Read and re-read Matthew, Mark, Luke and John in 2008. Discover Jesus. be discovered by Jesus. Don’t compare your life with with any mere human (like me or anyone else); measure yourself by the Real Jesus. He is the light of the world; indeed, He is the light of life. He is the way, the truth, and the life.