Monday, March 11, 2013

Faith Expressions of a Christian

            If a spiritually relaxed Christian (Chillin Christian) is one who relaxes much after receiving blessings from the Lord, then, I submit to you, there is another - an ignorant one.

            An ignorantly chillin Christian is the one whose faith expressions are obligated attendances to a weekly worship service of a church, daily prayers aimed to please God and receive blessings, and a self enforced participation in Godly activities to receive heavenly brownie golden points. Please allow me to elaborate.

            If going to church makes us a Christian, then going to a garage should make us a car is a bizarre yet humorous quote (paraphrased)! Regular attendance to a church worship service is not salvific. Sadly many Christians live in this quicksand belief to constantly drown themselves and their protégés into ignorance. If a gentleman believes he is saved by virtue of regular church attendance, then he is yet to study and integrate God’s Word in this context. But let us be gentle with this gentleman! Many church leaders intently dump this notion into minds only to have a full show in their church. A packed church whose worship is an unbiblical perfunctory performance is catastrophic. Today, a packed church is considered a spiritual church – a juvenile thought (Cf. Matthew 18:20)! A well decorated, regular church attendance where the body is stationed inside but mind either drifting into unconsciousness or unmindful of worship amounts to zilch.

            "Jesus did not give the Lord’s Prayer with the intention that it would be repeated mindlessly" said R.C. Sproul. Many fall into this sinful and mindless pothole! There are prayers ranted and raved as a frightened ritual, as if God would pour HIS wrath if we did not pray. Then there are prayers splitting the heavens with ocean-load of petitions to satisfy one’s hedonistic tendencies for the present and posterity. Oh, but let us be gentle with this group as well, for there are church leaders who delude people with their greed-centered enticements. They play mind games with their members through veiled threats and enticements to pray more to give more (Cf. Luke 6:38; 2 Corinthians 9; Galatians 6:7b)!

            A few years ago, I heard a very famous evangelist advertise for finances by prayerfully promising donors a place in his golden tree - the more one prayerfully gives, the higher his placement in the tree. A friend once humorously quipped that the pastor who prayerfully preaches material-prosperity gospel is the one who elevates into material prosperity, whereas his abundantly generous and prayerful congregation will plunge into material obscurity!

            Are prayers meant only as rituals to receive material blessings? If your honest answer is yes, then your Bible study needs to roll on the right track, else you will continue your stroll deep into Christian wilderness.

            Every Christian is graciously given spiritual gift(s) (Ephesians 4:7-13 et al.) Unfortunately many of us do not realize that the graciously given gift is to build God’s people for works of godly service. Some assume this gracious gift as a lottery for self-aggrandizement. They use spiritual gifts to build their own kingdom instead of God’s, and wax eloquent about their spiritual successes. Some serve in church programs with blinded arrogance implying God would suffer in their absence. Their motive is to delight God with their competent service because they are so full of themselves. In their distorted fullness, they think their service scores heavenly golden points for a greater reward. Must we not be foundationally involved in Christian ministry out of sincere love for God and man?

            These spiritually gifted Christians strive to erase Luke 17:10 through their vain boast. Instead of unworthiness and servant-hood, they proclaim sole ownership and lordship (Cf. Matthew 20:25-27; 1 Peter 5:3). The body of Christ (church) becomes their playground, Christians their primary victims; thus Christianity morphs into a godless and heartless tyranny!

            We live a lie if our church attendance, our prayers, and our service to God and man are as above. The question is, “where is our heart?”

            But, this is the truth. We regularly attend church worship to worship and glorify God in the community of saints by sharing God’s love and grace. A church worship encompasses preaching and practicing of the glorious “unity in diversity”, and souls are enlightened of God’s presence and activities. Vertical (God-man) and horizontal (man-man) relationships are strengthened in the church, and the community of believers learns and strives to obey the commands and commission of the Lord. The believer grows in holiness so to be presented holy and blameless in the Father’s presence (Cf. Colossians 1:22; Jude 1:24). If our church worship actively integrates these components, then our presence and worship is indeed in spirit and in truth. Our heart should crave for the Lord.

            Worshipping in spirit and in truth is a 24-hour pursuit. Prayer is an integral component of our worship. Thus, prayer is a constant endeavor (1 Thessalonians 5:17); prayer and worship cannot be compartmentalized. We pray to glorify God (Psalms 50:15; John 14:13) and to commune with HIM always. Prayer is an act of love, a desire of our soul to align ourselves with God’s will for our life. We pray in all circumstances for we (are to) love the Lord with all our life. Our heart should yearn for the Lord and HIS will for our life.

            Money is essential for existence, but greed is sinful (Cf. Matthew 6:24; 1 Timothy 6:10; Hebrews 13:5). Giving to a godly cause is a blessing, but giving to receive more is business! We are not called to transact business with God. The Bible preaches sacrificial giving (2 Corinthians 8:1-7). I shall share my thoughts on this subject later.

            Love is foundational to serving God and man (Deuteronomy 6:5; Leviticus 19:18 et al.). We serve God only to glorify HIM, but as unworthy servants in utmost faith and cognizance that HE will sustain what HE has begun in us. We serve as empty vessels filled by the Spirit and power of God, knowing all glory and praise is due to HIM alone. As we serve HIM and HIS people, our constant and conscious endeavor is for us to become lesser and for HIM to become greater (John 3:30). We serve as mere donkeys carrying our Lord Jesus in our body, which is HIS temple. All accolades poured out are for the Master but never for the donkey (Matthew21:1-11). We serve for our heart loves God and man.

            Therefore, let us not mindlessly chill, but may we be donkeys on fire for the Lord, this we ask in Christ’s name. Amen. 


Sarah Bhuyan said...

Unmindful church attendance is something we learnt from childhood,seeing others doing and this fear that God might punish if we did not. In the end result , church is little like a local club where we meet up with people we like and ignore people who are different from us.

This mindset will change when people know God or rather known by God and develop a meaningful, personal relationship with god.God's word will start prompting us to change and obedience is the key to change. Without faith and (obedience) we cannot please God.

Having said that I am reminded what God said to Elijah, that in the midst of all these God has placed a remnant who are real worshippers by his grace. The question we ask ourselves is , ' which category I belong to 'a real one or false ?
I want to confess that I belonged in the past to ' false one.' , but by his grace he has moved me. I think we will be patient as God is, and praying that people will move from false to real.


Sam Carr said...

Raja, the forms of worship are things that many Xtians are brought up with. I therefore prefer the term Xtian for such who have imbibed a culture from early childhood and can scarcely be blamed for this. The Holy Spirit reaches out to each individual and some will respond. This ends up having nothing to do with what we call the Church which is actually a human organization that purports to point us towards God, but in effect distracts us in its efforts to build its own membership.

Raj Richard said...

Hi Sarah, You are so right, for we carry our childhood far too long, so to even be unmindful of the Spirit's leading. Having said that, we do drift into sins now and then...but by HIS grace we are delivered constantly....

Church as a local club - isn't that so true!

Your thoughts are very encouraging...thanks, Sarah.

Raj Richard said...

Sam anna, I think we are all responsible for what we do. I don't subscribe to the view that nullifies our responsibility. I think you are also of this belief, since you said that only some will respond to the Spirit's leading.

The church? I agree with you that many churches of today have been relegated to a mere human organisation.

Years ago, I think, "Time" magazine carried a cover page stating "God is dead." Let me submit that the church played a major role in this so called murder.

Thank you for your valuable thoughts :)

Sarah Bhuyan said...

In all what we say, I am unable to eliminate the mystery part ie., God's choosing and my responding. God makes the first move and I respond. But I wonder how different people respond at different times in their lives. I mean, some people respond very early in their lives and some people at a much older age. That particular time is known to God only and not even the person concerned. Hence, we are unable to look at anybody and say that so and so is beyond God's saving power. We might get frustrated looking at the cold, traditional way, but God is carefully, lovingly working out his plans in a wise and skillful manner. I think, we cannot get someone to be that donkey on fire, for the wind blows where it pleases and that specific moment, a person truly turns to God. Jesus himself looked at Jersusalem and Korazin and lamanted that they did not listen to him. Let us convert our
'lament' in to a prayer so that God's grace reaches out to hearts and minds of people.

Thereafter, the Holy Spirit has to teach people about the depravity of our human hearts and God's perfect purity and the necessity of The Cross. The Cross has to change people.

Benjamin Durairaj said...

I have to show this to my dad. I am sure he will enjoy it and agree with it as well.

I was reading Sara's comment i have to say that i couldn't have put it in any other better way....Local club is so spot on right !!!...exactly What my dad calls my

Politics, greed, jealousy, pride has led to spiritual dryness in so many churches.

But as Christians we have to be blameless and pure in the eyes of our lord. Let him take care of the rest :D

Raj Richard said...

Hmmmmm Sarah...There is a free will that is at play in our lives. One cannot keep the ball in God's court always. Man needs to bear responsibility for his actions. Even the verse you quoted Luke 10:13 has an appeal to the freewill of man. God has made HIS move, and continues to make HIS moves, but the big question is about our response.

If the ball's in God's court and if freewill is even remotely negated, then the final judgment would be out of the picture, for if judgment stays in focus, then it would amount to God judging HIMSELF.

Just thinking :)

Raj Richard said...

Benji, thank you so much for your participation.

Just one thought though, our blamelessness and righteousness is ONLY because of Christ and HIS perfect, one time sacrifice. Outside of Christ, we cannot be blameless & righteous.

Hope your dad read the blog :)Would be interested in knowing his comments...

God bless :)

Sarah Bhuyan said...

Hi Raj,

I am totally with you reg God's sovereignty and man's choice .

My emphasis was on the mystery part about that specific moment when a person turns to God or makes that choice. I sat in the pew for many years, but that particular moment was something I did not know, but it dawned on me by God's grace. God kept me alive for that moment and he was patient with me. Hence we would be patient with people, praying for them so that the Gospel which is the power of god for salvation will reach the hearts and minds. The Gospel which worked in you and me will have to work in them too, by God's grace and power.
We cannot make them do that choice.

In the meantime, we will get distressed when we see unmindful lip service. We are also reminded that we were like that once. Hence a distress about what we see and reminder about what we were...
That moves us to pray for them. Whether they will respond or not is again a mystery which is known to God.

I hear people saying , "I have prayed for so and so and God will definitely save that person." I will say, I do not know, but god knows. Because it is a mystery for me. Again, it is not my panic or distress that will work, but God's enabling and man's choice.

So my point in summary was patience in view of god's patience. May be my post is more clear.


Raj Richard said...

I am with you 100% on this, Sarah. Thanks for the clarity. God bless you much. :)