Are We Pretending?
Many will say that they are the followers of Jesus Christ as long as it does not cost them much: as long as Jesus would not ask them personal questions; as long as no loyalty is required; as long as He may remain a popular but lifeless mascot. But the ultimately defining question, that would sooner or later knock at the door of anyone who claims to be a follower of Jesus is – Who do you think I am? It is the way we respond to this question that will ultimately define whether or not we truly know Him, or if we are only pretending.
One of the strongest and most cunning temptations for Christians today is to get dragged into the fight for this or that ‘righteous’ political, national, ethnic, racial and social cause; the one that will, we believe, deliver us all from this or that kind of bondage. But before we engage into our preferred righteous cause let us remember that Jesus did not allow himself to be dragged into any kind of partisanship. He did not let himself be embedded with the ruling Romans, or with morally righteous Pharisees, or with the liberal Sadducees, and certainly not with militant Zealots. The cause of Jesus, although impacting all of them, was not in alliance with any one of them. It was and it always will remain to be above and beyond them all.
By What Authority?
I may try to turn Jesus into a New Age guru, compare Him with Dalai Lama or call Him an Enlightened Master, make Him into a prophet only, or reduce Him into a way. I may cripple or reduce Him a thousand times believing that by doing so I am helping Him to become more attractive, appealing and relevant. But the day will come when I will have to look at Him face to face and answer His question: “By what authority did you do this to me?” Gal. 1:6-9.
Are You Partying at the Wrong Time?
If you are enjoying your holidays on a big cruise ship that safely glides over a calm sea, your focus is on fun, leisure and party activities, and other kinds of enjoyment. But if the ship is caught up in a deadly storm and is about to go down within an hour or two, your priorities change momentarily and dramatically. Instead of continuing to indulge in parties, fun and entertainment, you are now investing all your strength in whatever is needed to save lives – your life, the lives of your family members, and others around you. The urgency changes the priorities. The sad truth is that today many of us are indulging so much into partying that we do not feel the winds or see the lightning, nor do we hear the thunders of the coming storm. Many of us might even be offended if someone dare warn us that the ship is going down.
Obeying God Rather Than Men
It is not given to the powers of this world, whether religious or political, to regulate or control the impact of the Gospel upon society by their laws, decrees or executive orders. It is not given to any earthly power to determine the parameters within which the Word of God will move forward. They have tried to do it again and again in the past. They are doing it today. And they will do it more aggressively in the days ahead – but, in the final analysis, they have never succeeded. Acts 4:18-20. “They… commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John replied, ‘Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God’s sight to obey you rather than God. For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.’” At this age when many are talking about this and that kind of resistance, I believe in the legitimacy of only one kind of resistance – the resistance of Peter, John, Paul and other early followers of Jesus: resistance by standing firmly for Jesus, His Gospel and His Kingdom, without shame and whatever the circumstances.
Judgments of God
We have lost the preaching on the judgments of God. We do not want to scare people into the Kingdom of God. We do not want to offend anyone as if the Gospel of Christ is meant to soothe and pacify everyone. At the same time the strongholds of evil are scheming, plotting, manipulating with our freedoms, and calling good evil, and evil good. And, if for no other reason, we should declare the judgments of God, that are just behind the corner, as a witness and warning to them. They must hear that they are not in charge. They must know, whether they believe it or not, that what they do in secret today will be shouted from the rooftops. Someone needs to tell them that they are the “gods and kings” who will be dethroned and disarmed very soon. They must hear that one day soon they will have to stand in the presence of the living God who cannot be lied to – naked, speechless, powerless, totally exposed.