Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Trailing Behind

I have already finished the book "Radical" by David Platt. And, if I must confess, I have also started and finished "Forgotten God" by Francis Chan...all in the past few days. But I am going back each week and reading a chapter over to keep up my participation in the book club over at www.MarlaTaviano.com. This week is all about Chapter #2 - Too Hungry For Words.

- Trailing Behind -

Have you ever had to follow someone in your car because you were not sure of the directions? I bet we've all done this a time or two. But what about this? Have you ever followed someone and you discovered you actually had a better sense of direction than he/she did? You can sense you are going the wrong way, but you are still following them anyway? You are thinking that in your commitment to stay right behind them, somehow, some way, you'll all eventually end up in the right place. Even if you have to take some wrong turns, detours...and even if someone else eventually has to take on the lead. This might work if you are just trying to get from point A to point B on the map. But this doesn't work on the journey to Heaven.

After reading chapter #2 of Radical, I realize I have trailed behind some leaders who were going the wrong way. And by leaders, I don't mean my church...I just mean..anyone who I have assigned the trustworthy button to. I have read scriptures over and over and over. I have read and contemplated many verses about "falling away". I read those verses and they make me nervous. In my heart I search those things....but I rarely raise a question. SO many people who label themselves as Christians believe that if you "accept" Christ you are saved and that this is something that cannot be stripped from you. This may be true...but what is our definition of "saved"? And this is where it all falls apart. In our culture, we think being saved is making a statement, speaking an invitation, and repeating a prayer. The Scripture explanation of a true follower of Christ, is not.that.simple. Jesus isn't waiting for our acceptance. He doesn't need that. He is only leading those who are "God-centered, Christ-exalting, and self-denying". (modified from pg. 39)

I have also repeatedly read the verses in the gospels about Jesus sermon on the Mount. It CLEARLY says that there are many many many "believers" will say at the end of times, "Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles? Then I will tell them plainly, I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!". But what have I done with what I have read in the scriptures? My guilt is in going with the flow. Did I read it? Yes. Is it fairly straightforward? Yes. Am I confused? Yes. Why? Because from my observation in life with other Christians...no one ever seems concerned about that scripture. We all just say, if you accept Christ, you are going to Heaven. And we leave it at that. I have ignored those verses because I don't like them.

The author of this book has been brave enough, radical enough to say...I don't believe that everyone who believes they are a Christian is indeed a Christian. And you know what...I don't either. I haven't believed it for a long time, and it just isn't the sort of thing you can say outloud. You (I) will be accused of judging and awarding ourselves the title of holier than thou. **And please don't misunderstand this. I'm not saying I have a list of people that I don't believe are going to heaven even though they are professed Christians. I am saying that I agree with the author when he states, based on scriptures, that many will be shocked in the end to find out they were on the wide path to hell rather than the narrow road to Heaven. Not saying we can point those people out...nor should we ever try.**

I just don't want to be one of those who is shocked to land in the pit.

Faith should be radical, not minimal. Our faith should look like thirst and hunger for God. When we have been offered eternity, we should so long to receive that promise that we would be willing to abandon everything earthly and worldly to follow and experience God. No other response to the gospel is adequate. I don't want to trail behind other Christians and ignore the clear messages of scripture that are often omitted or dismissed for being too radical. If we are guilty of following other Christians under the guise of following Christ, we'll go down the wrong road without even knowing it....and it will not just neatly end up in the right place, eventually. When facing the God of Heaven from the gates of hell.....we can't use excuses like "well my church never showed me that passage" or "I was sure Paula was a Christian and I did everything she taught me". It's not gonna fly like that. We *are* supposed to fellowship, be the church, encourage one another, teach, preach, etc..... that is the church. Being the body of Christ involves the entire body of Christ. But as for scripture, the gospels, and learning to live like Christ, allowing through surrender our very selves to be transformed into His likeness...well those are things that we just can't take each others word for. There is only one Word that speaks perfect truth. "And the Word became flesh." Jesus it the Word. When you surrender yourself in radical faith and devotion to the One who sacrificed His life for your sin and the sin of the entire world, you receive the gift of His true and Holy Spirit to indwell in your being, your heart, your mind, your conscience. When this happens...when this really happens, your heart is then radically transformed. It is undeniable and it is unavoidable. You will be made new. If you are not new. If you are not changed. If you are not desperately yearning for and longing to know God, you might be an evildoer. That sayeth the Scriptures.

I would like to be able to say that at many times while I have studied the scripture on my own, I have become acutely aware of some hard truths and that I have risked everything to crusade. I haven't. I wish I could say that when scriptures push me, I move. I don't. Without even realizing it, I have been guilty of getting in my car and following in my typical, comfy fashion, assuming I'll get to point B....even when I sense the direction is a full-on error.

Am I mortified? Yea, a little bit. Because there is probably somebody following me.

A true indication of radical faith is not only you craving and yearing for God for yourself, but for the entire body of Christ. Some of our brothers and sisters haven't met Him yet. If they had, we'd all be in Heaven. Some of parts of the body are not yet born, some are living as atheiests, some are Muslims, universalists, agnostics, etc. I don't want to just yearn for Heaven for me and my family.....but for all. And this too, requires action.

Go get the book. "Radical" by David Platt. And visit www.MarlaTaviano.com for further disucssion and how lives are being affected by this powerful book.


Melissa, Multi-Tasking Mama said...

Am I mortified? Yea, a little bit. Because there is probably somebody following me..

oh.my.word..I hadn't thought of that. Yes, I have been thinking along the same lines as everything you typed until you got to that and it was like the Holy Spirit thumped me...my kids are following me, the girls that I mentor are following me...YIKES! All the more reason to make sure this is not just a book I read but I make it a call to action in my own life.
Great post!

Melissa Irwin said...

Oooh Melissa....you know when I was thinking about people followig me (a conviction by the Holy Spirit) I wasn't even thinking about my own children. Whoa. I seriously need help!

Jennifer Hanson said...

Man! So many great nuggets in this post. Thank you for your honest words! They resonated with much of the jumble going on in my own head/heart.

I too have known for a long time that something is wrong - that I'm following in the wrong direction, while being told it's the right one. Which is why I'm so grateful for this Radical project - I want to be able to say out loud "Hey, maybe we aren't as saved as we think we are."

It is all so confusing (even as straightforward as Christ's words are). It's confusing because what I read in scripture does not line up with what see in American Christianity...

alittlebitograce said...

i love your illustration of following another car. i have been the in second car knowing that we are going the wrong way. it was a frustrating feeling!

i have been that way in my spiritual life. i have chosen to interpret scripture based on how the other women in my church have acted. i've read the passages condemning gossip only to walk into a gathering where the elders' wives were gossipping. and i confess that rather than speak the truth, i caved. i didn't speak up, i just changed my theology. *cringing*

i've mentored, am mentoring, discipling and have young children. i don't want to lead them astray either!

Leigh said...

Oh crap! I hadn't even considered the people following me! That is a mortifying and scary thing indeed.

Missy said...

Wonderful word picture of the cars ... it connects with me. I'm so grateful that others recognize the falseness of our modern "Christianity."

Sabrina said...

Oh my. You've just put into words my thoughts I've been struggling with for over a week - thank you for unscrambling them into a lovely cohesive post. I have been wrestling with this exact problem for years. I believe most of my life was a "car B experience" and I'm no longer OK with that. I can't do "status quo" Christianity anymore and I know I'll be labeled an outcast in my hometown, but strangely I'm OK with that.
thank you for sharing,