Posted tagged ‘following Christ’

Christian Tutorials

January 4, 2018

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                                 January 4, 2018

                 

Recently my son-in-law’s Audi wouldn’t start. One day it had, the next day it didn’t! My daughter lugged the battery to NAPA and got a new one. The new battery, however, didn’t fix the problem. So my son-in-law went online and watched YouTube video tutorials that explained how to fix this problem, and then that problem. Armed with this knowledge and his tools he attacked the stationary vehicle once again.

Finally, the tow truck was called and it was towed to the mechanic where a thousand dollars later hopefully it will be fixed.

Some of that story resonates with me when I think of living the Christian life. Let me explain! Yesterday I was walking amongst the book aisles of Mardel’s, the Christian book store a few miles from our house. One of the long bookshelves was occupied with the best-selling books of the Christian faith this past year. I browsed, picked up a couple for clarification on what they were about, and then went on.

What was revealing to me was the fact that most of the books were written to answer questions, like how to pray or how to be a woman of God or a man of God? They were an assortment of self-help guides as to how to live the Christian life. They were about process and executing a plan. I walked away saying how nice it is to have tutorials for living the Christian life, and yet being a bit uneasy about it as well.

The Christian life is a journey, an ongoing relationship with the Holy. Our tendency as flawed beings is to try to figure out how to successfully live out that journey. The rub, however, is that it isn’t about succeeding. It’s about being.

If I’m focused so much on how to walk with God I will barely experience the walking with God. Like an educated adult, if I’m YouTubing how to pray with power I will detour around the childlike words of a simple faith.

Like my son-in-law’s quest to be an at-home Audi mechanic, sometimes as followers of Jesus we must simply surrender to the fact that we can’t do this on our own; that we won’t be able to figure everything out, establish a fail proof plan for reaching the mountaintop with God, and trust the Maker. There is simply not a way for us, as they say, “to be all that” when we acknowledge that the grace of God is intimately mingled into our existence. It’s difficult to calculate where I am on the journey when I forget where God is on the same journey.

Psalm 46:10 tells us to “be still, and know that I am God.” For many believers there is an immediate jump to “how do I be still?” But you see, it isn’t about us! It’s about us being still and letting God be who he is. It’s realizing that I’m in the passenger seat and the one who knows all and is all is driving the direction of my life.

The Price of Being a Christ-Follower

March 28, 2016

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                           March 28, 2016

 

In Pakistan seventy people were killed and three hundred injured by a suicide bombing that was aimed at a gathering of Christians in a public park to celebrate Easter. A Taliban faction claimed responsibility for the bomb, it’s fifth bombing since December.

The casualties and injured were mostly men and children: 29 children and 34 men.

Pakistan has several Islamic militant factions that are seeking to create unrest and overthrow the existing governmental leaders.

It is another example of Christ-followers in various places around the world experiencing the price of their faith. In 2013 eighty people were killed in a Pakistani church that was attacked by a suicide bomber. On Good Friday an Indian Catholic priest in Yemen was crucified by ISIS militants.

Although the simplicity of accepting Jesus as Lord and Savior is evident, following Christ often has serious consequences. In Pakistan Islamic militants are trying to establish a government that has a strict interpretation of Islamic law.

In essence, they desire that the government be guided, even ruled, by their religious beliefs. In Pakistan being a Christian is not a glamorous experience.

What does it mean to be a Christ-follower, regardless of where you are in the world? Are there common core elements that can bind believers in our nation with the believers in Pakistan?

Coming through Holy Week brings a couple of things to my mind.

Suffering and sacrifice. The cross tells of the sacrifice of Jesus to atone for the sins of his followers. It is punctuated with suffering. We can empathize with the grieving Pakistani people because our faith journey may travel through hardships and trials.

We are familiar with the scriptural “Roman Road”, but there was also a road leading into Rome in the first century that was lined with Christ-followers nailed to crosses. Nero used to light his Roman gardens at night by making human torches out of Christians.

In essence, suffering and sacrifice are elements that have past history and present happenings for those who follow Jesus. We identify and come alongside the suffering, the poor and neglected, oppressed and powerless.

The second identifying element that we have with Christ-followers around the world is “hope!” Just as the cross tells us of suffering and sacrifice, the empty tomb tells us of the hope that we have in our resurrected Lord.

It’s Monday and he is still alive!

It is easy in our culture to get caught up in the Final Four, spring break vacations, the presidential campaign, fashion trends, and the beginning of Major League baseball, but take a pause once in a while to ponder the situations that Christ-followers around the world are dealing with. Some of those are tragic and others are incredibly hope-filled.

And Jesus is Lord of all!

 

 

When a Follower of Jesus Doesn’t Seem To Be Following

June 3, 2013

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                                          June 3, 2013

One of the toughest things for a Christ-follower to struggle with is when someone he knows well…someone who has been a follower of Christ, comes to a time when he doesn’t seem to be following anymore.

It is quite convenient at that point for the committed follower to hold to the belief that someone can lose their salvation. It’s the easy way out. He’s in, now he’s out. He’s saved, now he’s not saved. There’s a bad odor present in that. It smells of judging someone’s spiritual condition on the basis of their actions and attitude.

Granted that the Bible talks about faith and actions, but I’ve witnessed a number of followers who can speak the Godly language, quote scripture like an attorney quotes the legal code, testify to God’s provision…and then hold to racist beliefs or a coldheartedness towards the poor.

I believe it is much more difficult, but scriptural, to hold to a faith that is immersed in grace. Grace doesn’t race to condemnation, but rather stays the course with the follower who has seemed to adopt an attitude of apathy.

So what does a Christ-follower do?

It begins with prayer. Cry out to God! Prayer is the seeking of divine intervention and interaction. Sometimes we fall victim to the idea that we have to fix someone. We strategize and come up with a three step plan. Prayer becomes an addendum to the plan.

Prayer is surrendering the person and our thoughts to the Lord. Perhaps God has someone else who will step into the gap…and it isn’t you.

A second step is having dialogue with the person to discover what it is that he believes. What does he believe about faith, how God interacts with us, and his purpose for this life? There’s a lot of weird stuff out there. Most of us have “customized faiths” that we’ve formed around us that best suit our lives. I may have strong beliefs about being stewards of the environment because I do a lot of hiking and backpacking, but doubt that God desires intimacy with me because I’m not comfortable with a faith that involves my emotions. Each one of us, whether we know it or not, has shaped our faith to embrace what we don’t struggle with.

To dialogue with someone who seems to be more interested in NASCAR than he is in having a God thing happen may reveal things that can be slowly pursued. (I want you to notice that I used NASCAR as the example because I have no interest in it. I can not say the same at certain times about Michigan State basketball, fried scallops, and Sunday afternoon naps.)

A third step is guiding conversations with the person about the faith journey. Instead of asking a lot of questions that begin with the words “Why don’t you…” start conversations, or at least the thinking about, with words like “Did you ever think about…” or “Has God seemed to be quiet lately?” or “Do you ever wonder if God is really interested in us?”

Our well-founded concern for the person sometimes causes us to chase him towards the throne of grace, or “guilt him” towards God. Guilt works well in getting out kids to eat their cooked spinach, but does very little good in having someone rediscover the intimacy of God.

Finally, we must stay the course. We see the immediate, but God sees over the next hill. Perseverance is as much a part of running our own race as it is a part of walking alongside someone who is on a different pace. Remember, there are plenty of people who abandon, but few who are willing to stay the course with the person.

Pray long. Be grace. Stay the course.