Today, I've been contemplating how we as Christians can take the same text of Scripture and end up with two totally different answers. My little math error today, gave me a perspective on one reason why this happens; I had the same numbers on my computer and in my checkbook but the columns the numbers were in were different and it made all the difference in the world.
I think that this sometimes happens with our conclusions about our Christianity. So if you will indulge me I will continue to reflect: Half of our Bible was written BEFORE Jesus died on the cross and brought full life and light to what is the intentions of God's heart. When we read the Old Testament we have to FILTER everything we read through Jesus and the cross; if we don't do this we will begin putting things in the wrong column and ending up subtracting things that belong to us because of Jesus. Our relationship with God and how we are invited and given the right to interact with God is based solely upon Jesus and the cross.
A second area, where I think we've placed things in the wrong column comes to our wealth and success in America. Many Christians feel ashamed and guilty that we have been given so much and we therefore, think that we have to give it all away yet we don't know how to do and end up with a guilt factor hanging between us and God. But I think the guilt comes from placing the words of Jesus in the wrong column. Our relationship with Jesus is based solely on our belief in Him not from the things we do. Therefore, our relationship with God is not dependant upon what we do, however, the things we end up doing WILL come out of our relationship with Him (2 Quotes to Remember).
Most of the church knows about the first half of Mark 10:29
29 “Truly I tell you,” Jesus replied, “no one who has left home
or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel...
and the church spends half the time feeling guilty that we haven't left enough for Christ. But we don't often preach the end of His sentence,
"will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age:
homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—
along with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life."
By following Christ and giving up all, we will end up with even more than we started with. So if our definition of being a "good" Christian is to give up everything but Scripture says we will now end up with even more, we will find ourselves in a constant state of turmoil because we can never give it all away.
So I would like to invite you to step away with me and view things from a different column. Instead of viewing the statements of Jesus as a "debt we owe Him to prove we belong to Him" let us view these statements and more "as a path to our ability to walk in confidence and freedom in this world." We as Christians are told that we are to live in the world not of the world (John 17:15), that we have citizenship in heavens (Philippians 3:20), so we are strangers here on earth (Hebrews 11:13). I think that we as Christians, have put these statements in the wrong column, and have used them as an excuse not to participate and engage in our present circumstances and as a result, I think we are missing out on being who Christ intended us to be in the earth - salt and light! Jesus says, that the harvest is plentiful and that it just needs workers to do the work and that forceful men will take the kingdom. So according to Scripture, the world is ready to be turned upside down and the church should be turning the world upside down but I think so often we find ourselves sitting in our churches discussing "theology" and figuring out how we are not measuring up to the "standards" of a Christian life instead of going out and being who we are in Christ (this sentence was inspired byAn Unstoppable Force by Erwin McManus).
Christianity has turned the world upside down several times - obviously in the New Testament Church but also through the lives of people like Michelangelo, Isaac Newton, Bach and C.S. Lewis. These individuals, I believe, walked confident in their giftings and excelled in their life here on earth and left us an inheritance of things that have lasted and shaped how the world moved forward. But today in America, we almost teach that being a successful Christian is a bad thing. Beloved, we worship the Creator of the Universe - the very One who gave us our brains and intelligence. I truly believe that we, as Christians, are meant to be successful in this world and in the giftings God has given us. Us moving forward confidently through Christ in our giftings will turn the world upside down. The Church needs to stop running away from the world. We do not need to be afraid because LIGHT always overcomes darkness. Scripture states that we are strangers in this world, that our inheritance is not of this world. These things are true. They do not need to be arbitrarily proven. Instead, we need to recognize that we are ABOVE the fray of this world and because of this we are able to move freely, confidently and successfully in this present world. What I am saying is that we need to take the statements of Jesus and put them in the right column. Jesus didn't ask us to store up our treasures in heaven to ensure us our spot in Heaven, rather He wanted us to know that because our citizenship is in heaven - we do not need to be slaves to the world and its systems and He wanted to free us to boldly bring His kingdom because our generous God would take care of the rest (Luke 12:22-32)
Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has
been pleased to give you the kingdom.
Sell your possessions and give to the poor.
Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out,
a treasure in heaven that will never fail,
where no thief comes near and no moth destroys.
34 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
We are on a whole different playing field, a better playing field, and therefore, we CAN engage in this life here on earth in a way that brings LIFE and TRANSFORMATION because we know and serve the One and Only True God.