Safe Religion?

People who are fervently committed to a cause can be difficult to be around. They won’t bend or compromise. At your family table this Christmas there will probably be one or two who will take the conversation in a direction that leaves the rest of the people uncomfortable. It might be their ideas about what to eat, or the best way to use money, or their political persuasions that demonize one party and canonize the other.

Do you serve Christ Jesus with a fervent, uncompromising commitment?
Do you serve Him with single-minded devotion, every other decision formed by your desire to follow Him?

Some of you may well be thinking, “Oh, Jerry, I don’t want to be one of those people, those ‘true believers’ who obnoxiously push their religion on others.” Nor do I! But, I do not want a safe religion, a tame God, or a Jesus that is just for Sunday School stories for children.

Radical is not always a bad word, especially when it comes to faith. A carefully contained, neatly packaged religion may offer us some comfort, to be sure.  Are you one of those Christians who seeks ‘balance,’ who wants just enough “Jesus” to quell any fear of judgment, but not an all-encompassing relationship with Him that shapes your daily choices?

Paul writes to us to say – Do not put out the Spirit’s fire; do not treat prophecies with contempt. Test everything. Hold on to the good. Avoid every kind of evil.” (1 Thessalonians 5:19-22, NIV)  As you read that do not necessarily think that God is requiring you to sell your home, abandon your job, and move to some remote place to share the Gospel with an unreached tribe. That’s often the caricature of radical faith that forms in our minds. In reality, knowing Jesus in a revolutionary way starts right where we are, in our familial relationships, how we treat others, where we look for joy.

The Spirit of God is speaking to every Believer, every day, but it is possible to stifle His voice. How?
Lots of activity that leaves no time for prayer and reflection will do it.
Focusing too much on ‘what I want’ will surely do it.
Starting to think that you can make yourself right with God with excessive religiosity is definitely a way to quench the Spirit.

So, how do we let the fire burn in us?  We listen, love, and learn.

Marriage is a great illustration for the way to know Christ wholly. A marriage that remains alive and warm must be tended by two people who make their relationship a priority. They do not smother each other, jealously possessive, but they keep their relationship exclusive, look for ways to please their spouse, pay attention to the subtle cues about the other’s needs, offer affection and affirmation.  They endure the up’s and down’s of emotions, weather storms, and know that passion ebbs and flows in all relationships. Overall, they define themselves by that singular relationship with their spouse – ‘married,’ turning the ‘me’ life into the ‘we’ life.

IF we want to know Christ, we will give ourselves to Him intentionally in much the same way. No longer will we think of owning ourselves. He owns our affections. We will make worship, prayer, and meditation an important part of life and will pay attention to what the Spirit says. When God speaks to us we will not contemptuously brush Him off.  Nor will we become silly, gullibly eating up everything that somebody says God told them. We will be wise and we will make the choice to embrace the best, the highest, the pure – for Jesus’ sake.

Here is that word from the Word again. I pray you will marinate your mind in this practical word of the Spirit, praying to make Christ the center of all of life.

Don’t suppress the Spirit, and don’t stifle those who have a word from the Master. On the other hand, don’t be gullible. Check out everything, and keep only what’s good. Throw out anything tainted with evil. May God himself, the God who makes everything holy and whole, make you holy and whole, put you together—spirit, soul, and body—and keep you fit for the coming of our Master, Jesus Christ. The One who called you is completely dependable. If he said it, he’ll do it!” (1 Thessalonians 5:19-24, The Message)


Build My Life

(What is your foundation?)

Worthy of ev’ry song we could ever sing
Worthy of all the praise we could ever bring
Worthy of ev’ry breath we could ever breathe
We live for You

 Jesus the name above ev’ry other name
Jesus the only one who could ever save
Worthy of ev’ry breath we could ever breathe
We live for You
We live for You

 Holy there is no one like You
There is none besides You
Open up my eyes in wonder and show me who You are
And fill me with Your heart
And lead me in Your love to those around me

 I will build my life upon Your love
It is a firm foundation
I will put my trust in You alone
And I will not be shaken

Brett Younker | Karl Martin | Kirby Elizabeth Kaple | Matt Redman | Pat Barrett © 2016 Martin, Karl Andrew (Admin. by Arkyard Music Services Limited)

Kaple Music (Admin. by Bethel Music Publishing)

Bethel Music Publishing

CCLI License # 810055

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