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UNLIKE JESUS! One Area Where Jesus-Followers Excel (Part 9)

None of us like criticism.  But criticism from those who profess to know God is especially painful.  Jesus (and John the Baptist) get criticized in Matthew 11.  John is throught to have been demonized because of his frugality (he wore a camel’s hair cloak and regularly ate a lunch of locusts).

The Lord Jesus is criticized for His indulgence.  He was charged with being a glutton and a drunkard, accusations which had no evidence to support them.  But He was also criticized for being “a friend of tax collectors and sinners.”  To this third charge, I believe, Jesus would have responded, “GUILTY AS CHARGED!”

We followers of Jesus need to be charged as well.  But the charge against most of us is that we are not like Jesus!  We eat Christian cookies, read Christian books, have Christian wallpaper, and hang around only with Christians!

There is a world of difference between being a “friend of the world” (James 4:4) and being “a friend of sinners” (Mt. 11).  One makes us enemies of God; the other makes us like the Lord Jesus.

We saw that THE MYTH OF GODLINESS is the commonly-held belief that the fewer non-Christian friends we have, the godlier we are.  No, the less like Jesus we are.  We saw from Jesus’ high priestly prayer in John 17 that He has strategically left us in the world to continue His work.  Believers in Jesus are not called to escape the world, but to serve Him, protected by God.  We are to be IN the world but not OF the world. (to be continued)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on July 19, 2017 in discipleship

 

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UNLIKE JESUS! One Area Where Jesus-Followers Excel! (Part 8)

The Lord Jesus was criticized by the Pharisees and the teachers of the law who muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them” (Lk. 15:2).  Many, if not most, Christians are NOT friends of sinners. We have swallowed a lie that the fewer non-Christian friends we have the godlier we are.  No.  The less like Jesus we are.

What we believe, what we swallow, can spiritually kill us.  And we Christians have bought into the lie that we are to be anti-world.  And that means being no friend of sinners.  Afterall, doesn’t the Bible say that “friendship with the world is enmity with God” (James 4:4)?

But then we looked briefly at Jesus’ prayer for us in John 17.  Here is that prayer again:

Several conclusions are unavoidable if we take Jesus’ prayer seriously:
1. The word “world” can mean the planet, the people of the planet, or the pagan system opposed to God and the things of God. “World” must mean the pagan system in James 4:4 (“friendship with the world is enmity with God”) because God so “loved the world” (Jn. 3:16).  In fact, it is John who tells us in I John 2:15 not to love the world.  “World” must have two different meanings in John 3:16 and I John 2:15.  Friendship with the pagan system opposing God and the things of God makes us God’s enemies.

2.  John 17 is a perfect example of how “world” can mean several things.   For example, it apparently means the planet in verse 5 (“before the world began”).  It apparently means the people of the planet in verse 9 (“I pray for them.  I am not praying for the world”).

3.  Therefore, what conclusions can we draw about the Christian and the world from this prayer?  First, any efforts on our part to take ourselves out of the world of people run contrary to Jesus’ declaration in verse 11 (“I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world”).  Jesus doesn’t pray for escape for His followers, but protection (see verse 11).  Second, followers of Jesus are to be IN the world but not OF the world (verse 14).  Our present geographical assignment is not heaven, but earth!  And we are to serve Him while we are here.  (to be continued)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on July 18, 2017 in discipleship

 

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UNLIKE JESUS! One Area Where Jesus-Followers Excel (Part 7)

We have established the fact that Jesus was a friend of sinners.  We saw that truth in Luke 15 where “the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, ‘This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.’” (Lk. 15:2).  Other examples could be given that show the Lord spending time with lost people.  He declared that He did not come to “call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” (Lk. 5:32).

We need waste no time proving that many, if not most, Christians are NOT friends of sinners.  Why not?  What do we fear?  How do we engage ourselves if we are not becoming friends of sinners?  What does it mean to be a friend of sinners?  What are the risks and dangers of such a “life-style”?

The Myth of Godliness

Our dog Scrabble one day stopped eating and drinking.  I mean, completely!  For days — and

Scrabble when he was a puppy.

then weeks!  I took Scrabble to a local pet store and the vet said he thought Scrabble had pancreatitis.  Scrabble still wouldn’t eat or drink.  We had to syringe water down his throat.

In desperation we took our dog to a friend who is a vet and it turns out Scrabble had swallowed three rubber nozzles from some gardening equipment.  We don’t know why.  But they had blocked his lower intestine and he was going to die.  Our vet friend did surgery, removed the three items, and gave us back out dog.  Scrabble is doing fine now, if you’re wondering.

Many of us have swallowed a lie.  That lie, as Steve Brown says, “smells like smoke and comes from the pit!”  The lie is simply this:  We believe that the fewer non-Christian friends we have, the godlier we are.  That is a lie.  Godliness does not come to those who isolate themselves from a lost world.

A simple study of Jesus’ prayer in John 17 ought to shock us out of our stay-away-from-the-world mentality: (to be continued)

 

 

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on July 17, 2017 in discipleship

 

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