Monday, January 30, 2012

Denying Self

One of the books on my reading list this year is Radical by David Platt.  Amazingly, this was one of the textbooks used for a class that my husband took at Southeastern Seminary last semester for an ethics class.  Although I have not read the book yet, my husband would read enough excerpts from it to me to peak my interest and to start us talking at length about what biblical Christianity really looks like.  We have had these conversations before.  It is as if the Lord is bringing us to the realization that this western culture is very foreign to the real cross carrying, gospel centered, selfless service type of Christianity that Christ speaks of in the Bible.

So much of what we do here is so very ME centered.  Our hobbies, our sporting events, our spare time…all revolves around us…what we enjoy…what makes us happy…what we feel we have earned the right to do.  When I read about the life of Christ and His disciples however, I never see this ME centered living.  You don't see Paul running off to the nearest Olympic event to watch his favorite athlete compete.  You don't see Peter saying, "I worked my whole life as a fisherman…I did my time…Now it's time for me to enjoy my days!  I've earned it!"  You don't see the early Christians carting their children all over God's earth to the next event, or competition, or party…or whatever so they will be well-rounded and have all these accomplishments behind their names.  One could easily argue that this is because these types of things didn't exist in the early days of the church, therefore they couldn't.  Well, that is partially correct.  Sports have been around since then for sure!  We got the concept of the Olympics from the Greeks!  But, that would not be my question.  My question would be, "If they were around then, would the early church have been participating?"  I think not…at least not to the extent we do today.  The early church's philosophy was cross carrying…think about it.  A cross was not a pretty thing.  Oh, we wear them around our necks and hang them in our houses…because today they are a symbol of true salvation for us.  But, back then…the cross was a symbol of execution, of death, of pain!  And Jesus tells us to take this cross and carry it daily.  What does that mean?  Are you dying daily to your desires for those of Christ?  What cross are we carrying?

“We are settling for a Christianity that revolves around catering to ourselves when the central message of Christianity is actually about abandoning ourselves.” 

Now, before you think I am too radical, let me tell you what I am not saying.  I am not saying that having some activities is a wrong thing.  But, we need to ask ourselves…why do we do these things?  Are they all about us, or are they about Him?  As a disciple of Christ, shouldn't everything be about Him?  We make sure our children are involved in all these activities that we deem to be beneficial, but how many times do you make sure they have a chance to share the Gospel, work in a kitchen serving the homeless, visit a nursing home, pray outside an abortion clinic, give to orphans and widows?  Todays kids get their latest video games and DVD's, Kindles, Ipod, Ipads, etc., but when was the last time they were the hands, feet and voice of Christ to a lost and dying world?  When was the last time you or I were?
“If we were left to ourselves with the task of taking the gospel to the world, we would immediately begin planning innovative strategies and plotting elaborate schemes. We would organize conventions, develop programs, and create foundations… But Jesus is so different from us. With the task of taking the gospel to the world, he wandered through the streets and byways…All He wanted was a few men who would think as He did, love as He did, see as He did, teach as He did and serve as He did. All He needed was to revolutionize the hearts of a few, and they would impact the world.” 

This isn't just a problem with our children.  It begins with us.  You know, I would guess that our retired generation today is probably one of the least fulfilled and unhappy in decades.  The more our culture has immersed themselves in their own desires, the unhappier we have gotten.  Remember it was Jesus who said it is better to give than to receive.  Those words are true.  And if we continue to live for our next trip, our next sporting event, our next this or that…we will always come away empty and unfulfilled.  I cringe to think what we American Christians will have to answer for…how much money have we spent on our own amusements when there are people literally dying around the world just for something to eat?  Or our fellow Christians who would suffer great hardship just for a Bible and some of us barely read ours or we have several in our homes and not even give it a second thought?  What about persecuted Christians around the world who need help and medical attention just because they have claimed Christ and risked all?  Where your treasure is…there will your heart be also.  So next time you are heading for the golf course or the video game store or to get a Starbucks coffee…stop and ask yourself…if I just gave this up just one time a week, month, you fill in the blank…how could I take this money and further the kingdom's work?

“But then I realize there is never going to be a day when I stand before God and He looks at me and says, 'I wish you would have kept more for yourself.' I'm confident that God will take care of me.” 
“Radical obedience to Christ is not easy... It's not comfort, not health, not wealth, and not prosperity in this world. Radical obedience to Christ risks losing all these things. But in the end, such risk finds its reward in Christ. And he is more than enough for us.”
― David PlattRadical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream

“We desperately need to explore how much of our understanding of the gospel is American and how much is biblical.”
― David PlattRadical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream


Robin said...

I agree completely - and I am completely guilty! As Americans we somehow feel entitled to be happy and wealthy. Anyone who has values other than these is looked upon as strange. And parents are condemned as not caring about their children if they don't provide them with all of the required "stuff." If we could only give our children a relationship with Jesus, they would not need anything else. This looks like a great book that I'm going to have to put on my wish list!

Chelle said...

Great post. I have thought alot about that lately. With the super bowl being in our state capital. I have seen so much greed. I canot believe people worship sports so much. Not counting all the money they spend. We live 40 miles from the city. I am thankful. We have been telling our children this is not the right thi ng for people to do. Even some church people are so caught up in it.

Camille said...

Yes, indeed. Good food for thought Jackie! Thank you once again for sharing your heart and for pointing us to the Cross. May we all serve HIM daily. For HIS glory alone!

Many blessings,

Yuri Richardson said...

Thanks for sharing this post. We need to get back to that Old Time Religion. That is: the Apostolic Faith of the early church.

I'm encouraged that others (like yourself) are like minded. I was talking with a friend recently and she was asking the question " where are God's true and faithful people"? The thought came to mind that if you look in the mirror then you will have your answer. All true revival and reformation begins with each on of us individually; before YHWH seeking to be filled with His fullness.

Shalom In Yahshua (Jesus)

Joy Liz said...

Great post Mom. I love you.

Trisha said...

Ok, Jackie, I admit I've been skeptical about these kinds of books, so it's nice to read your perspective and portions of the book. And your daughter gets the award for the BEST comment! :) Love and hugs to you, my friend!