He executes justice for the oppressed and gives food to the hungry. The LORD sets prisoners free, the LORD gives sight to the blind, he lifts up those who are bowed down, the LORD loves those who live justly. The LORD watches over the immigrant and sustains the fatherless and the widow, but he frustrates the ways of the wicked. -Psalm 146:7-9

Monday, May 18, 2009

The Right Perspective

"We do need to be born again, since Jesus said that to a guy named Nicodemus. But if you tell me I have to be born again to enter the Kingdom of God, I can tell you that you have to sell everything you have and give it to the poor, because Jesus said that to one guy, too. But I guess that's why God invented highlighters, so we can highlight the parts we like and ignore the rest."
— Shane Claiborne (The Irresistible Revolution: Living as an Ordinary Radical)

Why is that so?? How in the world do we manage to say we read the bible yet, go against some of the very things that JESUS himself preached on?? Why is it so many believe living in the hood is much more dangerous or more "holy" vs living in Africa and doing the LORD's work?? Hmmmmm

You know, we my husband and I knew from the beginning that we ( we meaning staff or whomever decided to get involved) would face opposition of SOME sorts when we decided to follow the Lord's calling. I have been reminded so much over the past couple of weeks, this battle that we are in is no earthly battle. The war is between two kingdoms. As I was visiting a friend over the weekend I walked away with a couple of reminders: opposition is good. Persecution is GREAT(hahah, yea, I said it) Oh, and suffering, suffering is fantastic!!
Whenever you decided to LIVE counter CULTURAL you will be persecuted. Whether you decided to live counter cultural in your parenting, the way you love your husband, take care of your home, love your neighbors, corporate worship( oh, especially this one- because you know how we can tend to get a bit legalistic in how we believe one should worship the LORD, but that's another topic!!!!) to where you DECIDE to live or people you hang out with for ministry purposes. Man, you will be PERSECUTED, and that my friend REALLY is a great thing.

Now, I only believe so because of what the bible says in 1 Peter 3
Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing .For, "Whoever would love life and see good days must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from deceitful speech.
He must turn from evil and do good; he must seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous
and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil."Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. "Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened." But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.
But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. It is better, if it is God's will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.

I was telling a friend a while back that, "I don't want to be like this world. I don't want to look like a "normal" christian.. I really want to stand out.." I want to REBEL against the culture, not conforming to the ways and patterns of this world, but to be transformed by the renewing of my mind. I know its hard, I will be the one to admit, that, persecution,( and let me just throw in parenting while I am at it..ahahha) which is a part of our sanctification is not comfortable. But isn't that the point of it all
for us not to be so comfortable with this life here. Not hold such relationships, people, so dear, so close, to our hearts. Christ wants that spot, and dog on it, I am so ready to give it to HIM...COMPLETELY!!

I was listening to a sermon on 1 Peter 4 by John Piper that said:
"Arm yourselves also with the same purpose, because he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin." I'm not completely sure, but I believe what this means is that if you trust God enough to suffer for doing what is right (as 3:17 says), then you have made a decisive break with sin.
In other words, choose suffering because if you don't, you will choose sin. But if you do, you will prove that your bondage to sin has been broken. Get the thought and the purpose in your head that Christ is worth suffering for; live out that conviction when the choice comes between suffering and sin; and in suffering sin will be defeated and you will be triumphant. If you come to the point where you suffer for righteousness' sake, you have ceased from sin—not perfection, but a clean break with the past of sin."

We are called to suffer, this is the calling of a disciple of Christ. We will suffer in our parenting, in our relationships with others, with our finances and with our possessions. We will be persecuted, the question is not "will we", but when. But when we do, I desire to do it without complaining, and with gentleness towards those involved. Not looking for the FASTEST and EASY way out. For all of our sufferings, and persecutions are ordained by the LORD. And as a friend reminded me before she left my home, all of these trying times are times to show our children, and others what a REAL christian and most importantly JESUS looks like! Oh how I long for us to be like the saints in the bible :(

My prayer and exhortation to us all (including myself) is for us all is to grow deep and strong by also embracing the teachings we are not comfortable with and that are hard to understand with the confidence that God has not taught us anything false or harmful in the Scriptures.