Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Black Lives Matter

Black Lives Matter.

I have been reflecting on this statement a lot because it is daily presented to me and I hope continues to be presented to me.

I live in Canada where we like to think prejudice doesn't exist. It may not be as visible or dramatic as what we see in the States but it exists. I know because I grew up beside it in Nova Scotia. I grew up with friends who were black but it doesn't mean I understand what they went through. I saw it, felt it, but I did not experience it. I was never suspected of anything when I walked in a store or down the street. I may not have been rich but compared to my friends I live a privileged life because I wasn't black. It is exactly what they are trying to tell people today.

I also saw it in Europe when I lived there. My best friend was black. I could cross between countries there without even a glance but when we traveled together we were stopped every time. Prejudice and judgement are not unique to the US, although for the moment it is grabbing our attention.

This speaks to the horrible nature that is at the core of being human. We are filled with fear, hate, and prejudice. We are only lying to ourselves if we truly believe that we are free of these things. Just look at the response people have to the statement "Black Lives Matter". To say that "All Lives Matter" is ignoring the fact that our societies believe that some lives have greater value than others, and what is considered valuable depends on the country in which you live. Prejudice exists in every country even if it is a different group of people because of colour, race or religion. But this must not be true of the Church.

Although no follower of Jesus is perfect we must be aware of our sins to give them over to Jesus. To admit our prejudices and hatreds is the first step to have them healed and changed. Just because that is what we grew up with and what we were before Jesus does not mean that is who we are after our re-birth in Jesus. We are a new creation, the old has gone and the new has come. The Word is filled with what we are suppose to be growing into but there is one truth that should describe the atmosphere of the family of Yahweh:

There is neither Jew nor Greek; there is neither slave nor free; nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:28)

This is our family, under the head of Jesus, united by the Spirit, considering each other more important than ourself:

Don’t do anything for selfish purposes, but with humility think of others as better than yourselves. (Philippians 2:3)

There is no skin colour attached to this because the Kingdom of God is about the heart and our relationship with Jesus. We don't judge by sight but by the Spirit of God. If we are still judging people by skin colour then there is something wrong with us. Either we don't have a relationship with Jesus or we are failing to grow into maturity.

We can understand what is taking place in the world because of the sin nature of humanity, but if it exists within the Church it is an illness that must be dealt with by love, teaching and prayer. We tell the world the answer to all these things is Jesus but they aren't going to believe us unless we are willing to allow our hatred and prejudices to be corrected and healed.


Everyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life residing in him. (1 John 3:15)

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The Spirit Is Here To Help Us

If you are a Christian it should come as no surprise that we are living in a hostile environment. We don't fit in and we are not meant to. We are not given to compromise but instead we stand our ground. Not always easy because many of the elements that are against us because of Christ in us are also attractive to our flesh. But we are not alone.

Somehow we need to develop the mentality that we are not alone. Jesus did not give us new birth, anoint us and send us out as secret agents on our own. He did all that in plain sight of the enemy and stands with us. We are not alone because the life we have is in Jesus and he lives in us. We are never alone and we do not fight in our own strength. We do not stand the ground we have been given by using our own strength but instead we use the strength that is lent to us by our Lord. He knows exactly what we need for this fight.

What we can take courage from is knowing that Jesus knows what is going on even when we don't and he understands our limits:

In certain ways we are weak, but the Spirit is here to help us. For example, when we don’t know what to pray for, the Spirit prays for us in ways that cannot be put into words. (Romans 8:26)

Faith is trust. We cannot say that we have faith when we demonstrate so often that we don't trust. We are not required to have complete understanding of every situation but we are required to trust. When we trust we move forward in faith, never turning from the course set out before us. Trust says, "I know I am not in this alone, that I represent the King who I walk with, and that he is my strength and he will see me through everything I face." This is our confidence. This is our joy. This is our peace.

Whatever you are facing, whatever resistance, whatever persecution, whatever hardships, know you are not alone. Know that Jesus is lending you the strength and ability to overcome these things. Know that with Jesus we win. So don't give up but push through; fight on; keep pressing in. The Spirit is here to help us. Trust.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Don't Be Like Them

Being a follower of Jesus, should we live according to our opinion or the instructions of Jesus? Should we be directed by our society or the commandments of the one who we claim as King? Sometimes it seems that somewhere along our walk we get disconnected from the implications of the decision we freely made to follow Jesus. It was our choice. It was our choice to allow him to transform our life. It was our choice to experience the second birth. Yet, somewhere, somehow, many of us have left off our desire to live like Jesus and now desire for ourselves.

We aren't losing ground because our churches aren't big enough or that we don't have enough programs. It isn't because our youth rallies aren't cool enough or our pastors not entertaining enough. It is because we no longer pursue a desire to live for Jesus but instead chase after the priorities of our world. Let's isolate one verse while keeping it in it's context. Jesus said:

Don’t be like them. Your Father knows what you need before you ask. (Matthew 6:8)

The words of Jesus. A message for every age but especially for today. Don't be like them. Don't be like the rest of the world. Don't be like those who make life all about survival, possessions, working themselves to death. Don't be like those who store away treasures that they will never get to spend. Don't be like those who search for escape in the distractions of this world. Don't be like those who seek purpose in things that will have no value in eternity.

Jesus told us not to be like them but instead to spend our days seeking the things of the Kingdom. As citizens of this Kingdom, as children of our Father, we are to pursue and discover the priorities of our God, the things he considers to be important. If this does not attract you or have any interest for you, you should understand that you are not where you need to be with Jesus.

It's easy to get to that wrong place. It only takes a neglect of our relationship with Jesus, a neglect of God's Word, a neglect of prayer, a neglect of worship, a neglect of church. For a while we feel okay and everything seems fine and then we even start to lie to ourselves. But decide to be honest for a moment. Is Jesus still the greatest love of your life? Is your eternity the greatest priority? Is your love for people and concern for their salvation your greatest interest? Is your life about yourself or others? Are you distracted by the things of our society?

Don't be like them!

Now is not the time to faint and fall away. Now is not the time to sit and rest for a while. Now is not the time to become distracted. Time is short. Know the Father's heart and pursue those things.

Monday, December 15, 2014


As the restraints of forced righteousness falls away in our society we should be able to see a clearer distinction between believers and non-believers. Our problem is that believers have gotten so entrenched in the patterns of this world that we have lost sight that we are not part of it. We don't often take into consideration that we are citizens of the Kingdom. It doesn't mean that we are instantly perfect but it does mean that we are maturing in a certain direction. Or, at least we should be but many of us don't even understand the expectations of walking with Jesus. Let's consider one example.

Our walk with Jesus requires a certain level of discipline. In a culture that no longer values such personal disciplines it is easy to lose ourselves in the thought that it is good to speak our mind. We do want to be honest, don't we? The problem is that many of us lack the maturity to control our thinking, or I should say, to give up control to the Spirit. We often "speak our mind" and in so doing hurt the people we are suppose to love.

We are so entrenched in the culture of our age that we throw discipline to the wind and elect to embrace personal expression. Individual rights become the anthem of our age, but such an anthem flies in the face of Christianity, in the teaching of our Lord. James writes:

My dear friends, with our tongues we speak both praises and curses. We praise our Lord and Father, and we curse people who were created to be like God, and this isn’t right. (James 3:9-10)

If there is no difference between us and those who are not alive in Jesus there is a problem. The Word tells us again and again that we have died with Christ and we no longer live, but instead Christ lives in us. It tells us that the life we do live in these vessels we live by faith in Jesus, in what he has promised and taught. He taught that we are more through him, so where we failed in discipline in our flesh, through him we have victory. We are more than we were.

Love is now everything to us. We need to learn how Jesus defined love and how that love defined his actions and thoughts. We are more than we were and that is now defined by the love of Jesus. We know it is wrong to speak ill of anyone. Whether they are with or without Christ they were created by Father and as such are due love and respect. Our desire should be to see them saved not destroyed. Understanding this will go a long way in the discipline of our thoughts.

The thing to keep in mind is just because you think it, does not mean it needs to be spoken. As much as we are growing there is still parts of our old nature trying to hold on. We do not want to give those things life by speaking them into life. If there are wrong thoughts then we need to confess them to Jesus, repent of them and reject them. With discipline these parts that no longer belong to us will die but if we keep giving them life then we will never grow into the maturity to which we have been called.