Radically, Thoughtfully Courageous.

“See to it, Ione, that none of those around you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.” I have decided to be thoughtfully courageous today and share something that has been burning in my heart for a while now. I wrote this a few months ago and thought I would share it! No offense is meant by this post but I think this is something that needs to be addressed, especially in today’s Christian culture.

Being at a “Christian” school has opened up my eyes to the real issue in our world today. Each day I am surrounded by people who say they are “Christian” but never even try and act like they understand what that means. Being a follower of Christ is no simple task. If you actually let Jesus change your life, you would be living different than everyone else and not just because you think that is what you “have” to do, but because there is just no other way. It almost seems like we do not understand the power and the urgency behind what we preach. Do you not realize that you have access to the creator of the universe? Do you not realize that He sent HIS SON TO DIE FOR YOU even though you mess up every single day? “He himself bore our sins in his boy on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.” Do you not realize that you can talk to God, GOD! every day without stopping? We don’t even realize that we have the greatest gift of all time. Or even worse, we know it but we refuse to acknowledge that fact. We are saved and it’s time us “Christians” stood up and acted like it. Yes, it is work. Yes, I know that people don’t like work but again, do you not realize that this is the only thing that is real? “The point of our lives in this world isn’t comfort, it’s training and preparation for eternity.” Everything else is temporary. Everything else is meaningless. God is forever, heaven is forever. We go to church every Sunday and sit next to that “church friend” that we know claims to be Christ follower yet at school acts the opposite and do we say anything about it? Nope, we are too scared to upset someone, to call someone out even though that is what we need to do. What kind of people are we when we do that? We just sit back and watch everyone around us “fall away” and we stay out of it because we don’t want to make someone feel uncomfortable? That is the most ridiculous thing ever. I see this every day. I am not saying I am a perfect Christian, man I screw up big time every single day. I am upset with myself because I do this same thing. I watch my friends make bad decisions and say nothing because I don’t want to make someone mad at me. Why do we do that? Why are we so afraid? We have access to the powerful creator who can do ANYTHING and has proved so, yet I am too afraid to say “hey, you probably should stop doing that because it is going to hurt you” to someone I care about? Guys, we are in a time in our world where we need to step up. “Brothers, if someone is caught in a sing, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way, you will fulfill the law of Christ. If anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else, for each one should carry his own load.”  This isn’t something you’ll get to eventually, or something you’ll grow into. No. Stop with the excuses, claim your identity, and get ready for battle. We don’t have time to sit around and wonder if we can “feel” God anymore. “You were running a good race. Who cut in on you and kept you from obeying the truth? That kind of persuasion does not come from the one who calls you.” You know He is there, you know He is real, and you know that He has done awesome things in your life so far. Stop letting Satan get in your head and mess with your thoughts. You have to tap into that free gift that we accepted or else what was even the point of accepting it? “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is-his good, pleasing, and perfect will.” This calling is urgent. Our world is falling apart. The Church is so worried about reaching unbelievers that we are forgetting to strengthen those we have already. How can we reach people when we are ourselves don’t even fully grasp what it is we are saying we believe? We know what we need to do. We have a whole giant book that God decided to leave for us because He knew we needed that. Read it sometime. You’ll find that as a follower of Christ, we are supposed to strive to be as He is. So stop messing around and get your act together. You have been saved my friend so start acting like it. Make the effort. Put in the work. You know the reward is well worth it. So just start doing it. Is it easy? No. But we are called to be set apart, to be different because we have something the world does not. That in itself is not an easy road. But would you really want to be a part of the world right now? That place is messed up and crazy. Without real believers, what is even the point? The biggest part of me turning atheist was the discrepancy of believers. I was surrounded by so many people who went to church on Sunday and told me “Jesus loves me and has a plan for me” yet lived as if they didn’t believe that themselves. “It is IMPOSSIBLE for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age, if they fall away, to be brought back to repentance because to their loss they are crucifying the son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace.” Can ya’ll read that again? We are crucifying Christ over and over again when we fall away from the faith, when we don’t live authentically we are bringing Him disgrace. We as Christians hurt more than we help the kingdom when we don’t live our lives straight. So just do it! Stop wasting so much of your time not taking this seriously!

I see parallels in the book of Daniel that relate to us today. Daniel was called to be set apart. It became increasingly difficult as Israel came under Babylonian rule. The king was forcing the Israelite’s to assimilate into their culture and ways even though this was against most of God’s teachings. Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah were called into the king’s service because the king had found favor in them. Despite their higher ranking, they still knew God had called them to be set apart from the rest. They knew that they could not give into what was being asked of them to do because it was unpleasing to the Lord. They tapped into God’s power. I mean, the king almost killed a bunch of wise men because they could not tell him what he dreamed last night. That’s crazy! The king ordered these men to read his mind from a day ago. Daniel tapped into the power of God and God delivered. These guys did not give in or make excuses while the culture around them pressured and pressured them to do so. They stayed true to God through all of it, even on the walk to the giant oven. God will always take care of us and we always can trust that yet we don’t. We shy away, all the time. It would be so much easier to just give into what the rest of the world is doing right? If Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego had just done what the king and the people had wanted them to do, they could have avoided all the pain and inconvenience. But being a follower of Christ is not an easy road, as so many try and sell it like that. It is tough. It requires a lot of strength, mind, body, and soul. If we tried to do it on our own, we wouldn’t last. We HAVE to stay connected to the energy source. We have been called to be different you guys. Set apart. We live in this world but we are not of it. We have a gift unlike any other yet choose to live like we don’t. We make the same mistakes over and over and over again. We make excuses, we say “well I’m only human” or “I’m not perfect” but is that a good enough excuse to stop trying (trying being the key word)? We aren’t idiots, we read the Bible, we go to church and we know exactly what it is we are supposed to do. So…do it? I just don’t understand how someone can claim this lifestyle that they clearly are not living. Listen to this, “Praise be to the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who has sent his angel and rescued his servants! They trusted in him and defied the king’s command and were willing to give up their lives rather than serve or worship any god except their own God.” Amen! I would love to have someone yell this about me. Wouldn’t you? Wouldn’t you want to be so fully devoted to God that it is obvious to everyone around you? This is how we should be living!

I want to challenge those who claim to be Christians. I want to challenge you to mean what you say. This shouldn’t even have to be a challenge yet it is. Being a follower of Christ means you give up yourself guys, for Him. He did that for us! It is a commitment, a devotion, a lifestyle change. “You, however, did not come to know Christ that way. Surely you hear of him and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.”  Jesus is not just some guy who died a bunch of years ago, and rose from the dead. Like why is this so dull now? Why do Christians not understand that He ROSE FROM THE DEAD! Imagine if that happened now. I think Christians need to stop just sticking a label on themselves. What is the point of calling yourself a Christian if you don’t even want to put in the effort to back that up? All I am trying to do here is share what has been hurting my heart for a long time. I am heartbroken to see people living their faith in lukewarm water, with no idea how much of God they are missing out on! “Therefore, each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body.” This is all I am trying to follow. God really put this on my heart to share with you all.

 

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