Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Christ Follower

"A Christ follower". This phrase has been used by many to emphasize true
or authentic Christian living.

Living here in America, one of the richest country in the world, founded
by Christians, and is largely populated by Christians of various
affliations, it becomes apparent to me that "a Christ follower" is a
style of life other of what Christ had meant. One of the most famous
commands can be quoted (and sung) by many, is found in Matt. 16:24.

"Then said Jesus unto His disciples, If any man will come after me, let
him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me."

Today, we all know what the cross symbolizes. For many of us the cross
is a precious symbol of the sacrifice Christ made for all who may
believe and receive eternal life. For others the cross symbolizes
something else.

The cross Jesus spoke about symbolized something very different to Jesus
and those He spoke to at that moment in history.

In a pagan country where Jews were considered foreigners. Execution by
crucifixtion was not only the most horrendous death offered by the
Romans but the most dishonorable. First practiced by the Medes and
Persians, a crucifixtion was preserved for slaves and foreigners. As a
matter of fact, the citizen class of Rome almost never received this
type of punishment. They were usually fined or exiled. The whole
intention of a crucifixtion was not necessarily death, but the act of
dishonoring a body in the most demeaning way thought of. The act of a
crucifixtion was to shame and make a spectacle out of the condemned.

When Jesus declared it, the cross (beam was typically carried by the
condemned to the stake that was already inserted in the ground) was a
reference to the act of bearing the shame, dishonor, pain and eventually
death for His namesake. Persecution is a given if "any man will come
after" Him.

Persecution is the infliction of suffering, injury or death by a person
or persons to others because of their identity or beliefs. Let me
clarify what persecution is NOT:

Verbal Abuse
Being made fun of or laughed at
Being denied something in any way shape or form
Acts of God
Health issues
Emotional issues
Financial issues

I've heard many a pastors cry "persecution" when they didn't get a
zoning permit to build or other relating matters. Its almost funny
except persecution is hardly funny. Its literally a grave matter that
deserves empathetic understanding as we "count the cost". The thought
that repeatedly resurfaces in my ever flowing mind is can American
Christians BE Christ followers under the principle of Matthew 16:24? No,
I'm not speaking of the loosely defined concept that has been
interpereted at will. Are American Christians continually persecuted for
the truth, the Gospel, the namesake of Christ??

I'm hard-pressed to say yes. I'm sorely tempted to believe emphatically,
NO. However I truly believe that there IS a remanant according to the
election of grace of true believers (Yes, in America) that are targeted
and persecuted because they promote wholesome, Biblical principles. Only
God knows who they are. Largely, American Christians do not understand
and/or are unable to understand the solemn undertaking of following
Christ following for these reasons:

1. American Christians hardly read the Word for themselves. Electing
instead to go to a church or church setting to be "fed". This directly
affects their knowledge of TRUTH as they lay themselves vunerable to be
"fed" artifically, and thereby do not evangelize in accordance to
wholesome, grounding principles of scripture.

2. Lay men (general congregation, people who are not pastors by
education) who do not evangelize, consider their beliefs private or
personal. Automatically default Matt. 16:24 because they do not "deny
themselves".

3. Christianity in America is so widespread, devided and populated with
unbiblical teaching that it can easily be considered as "worldly" or "of
the world". Christ is clear that the "world" loves their "own" and
embraces the teaching of their "own" and are thereby embraced as a
"citizen" of "world".

John 15:18-21

"If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you.

If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye
are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore
the world hateth you.

Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than
his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if
they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also.

But all these things will they do unto you for my name's sake, because
they know not him that sent me."

What is a "Christ Follower" by the standards of Christ?

It is a person who lives as a foreigner in this world. Hebrews 11:13-16

It is a person that denies the natural inclination of self preservation
in the name of pain, shame, sorrow and yes, death. Matthew 16:25

It is a person unloved, unaccepted by the "world" for His namesake. For
more examples of actionable "Christ following" read the 11th chapter of
Hebrews.

Are you a Christ Follower? Even Peter declared himself one and denied
Him thrice. As Americans we need to humbly recognize Followers of Christ
who indeed are persecuted for the sake of His Holy Name in countries
where they are the lone voices of Gospel truth, and lend true
consideration of this phrase.

Does this mean Americans cannot be "Christ Followers". That answer is
not mine to supply, but this I DO know. We truly need to wake up and
realize where we are as a nation of "Believers". That is to recognize
how far gone American "Christianity" have gotten away from the teachings
and commands of Christ.

How can anyone know their own beliefs if it hasn't been tested. No first
time expectant mom knows her own strength until she experiences labor.
She can either bear the immense pain with out drugs for the sake of her
unborn child, or she can opt out of the pain taking all the (documented)
risks of pain-relieving drugs may have on the child. But that telling
moment comes when confronted with suffering, the strength and motive of
a woman in labor.

Question everything you know to be Christian with a desire in your heart
for knowledge of God (Proverbs 2:1-6), Bible study and unwavering Faith
that He will supply those answers! (James 1:5-7) Recognize and repent,
for the time is at hand!! It IS nearer than when we first believe! Only
when we do this, we can truly ask if we are a nation of Christ
Followers!

Author's Note:
Crucifixtion/Cross information was supplied by wikipedia at

www.wikipedia.com

I apologize in advance for any typos and grammatical errors. I'm not in
possesion of my computer and am posting via Sidekick until otherwise.
Sent from my T-Mobile Sidekick®

2 comments:

  1. The biggest attack on Christianity today is the removal of the cross -- not the fact that we can't put replicas of the crucifix in public places but that there's no real repentance and carrying of one's own cross to follow Christ Jesus.

    In other words, we're talking about the infiltration of the carnal Christian and worldly churches.

    I see it happening here in Singapore as well, where churches are mixing in entertainment just to draw in the crowds, altar calls that promise health, wealth and prosperity to those who believe, and though I am wont to suffer some brickbats calling me legalistic, Christians partying, drinking and enjoying what the world loves...

    It's getting more and more difficult to stand apart, but by the grace of God we can. Keep striving for the goal, for the Lord our God has said that much rewards await those who persevere to the end.

    Shalom!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hello brother! Thanks for sharing. You know I am in agreement with you. My decision (in obedience to the Spirit) to remove myself from "church" is my "coming out of her".

    I can't say I'm surprised to hear that "carnal Christianity" exists in Singapore as well. After all Christians at large have utterly failed to promote the true Gospel as commanded by Christ...and this is the result.

    You keep standing strong as well and hold on dearly to sound doctrine in this day of false indoctrination. May he bless and uphold you!

    Shalom!

    ReplyDelete

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