"..Yet in My Flesh I Will See GOD" [Job. 19.26]

Sunday, May 27, 2018

What Do Jesus' And John's Lifestyles Teach You?

Jesus and John the baptizer led radically simple lifestyles to get across a powerful message. Unfortunately, though, the church seems never to get the point. We still want to attract the world on its terms. So we give it what it wants just to have the world come inside our churches and stay.

Jesus could have come to earth as a materially impressive Messiah with strong connections and influence with the higher-ups in government. He could have built impressive religious buildings with state-of-the-art facilities. He could've displayed costly camels or chariots or started a big church with immense church membership to get a lot of church income from it---and further enlarge his ministry empire and make it more impressive to the world.

He could've come as Ceasar's or Pilate's or Herod's son. But he didn't. Neither did John. John was the son of a priest, and priests were a privileged class in those times. They were amply provided quality provisions. John gave all that up and chose a lifestyle of wearing camel's hair and hunting for locusts and honey three times a day for food.

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Their radically simple lifestyles were meant to powerfully drive home a point: Never attract the world on its own terms. The world worships all earthly appearances of success. Jesus and John did away with all that and instead appeared in every way what the world hates and looks down on. We should never attract the world through what it worships. Thus, God deliberately "chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things--and the things that are not--to nullify the things that are," [1 Corinthians 1.28].

We often read past passages that reflect the lifestyles of Jesus and John. In fact, I haven't heard sermons on the same, especially really good ones. We often just read past these passages, treating them as something incidental. But Jesus didn't deliberately choose the lifestyle for nothing. It tell us how we can't win the world by using its standards to prove our worth. Satan tempted Jesus in the desert to use them but Jesus rejected them all. He refused to bow down to the world.

We put a lot of attractions in church that would compete or equal what people find in the world. First, we find out what's trending in the world and then we try to produce a "Christian" counterpart or alternative to it. Jesus didn't do that. He was in every way the exact opposite. Friendship with the world is enmity with God.

A genuine church will have only Jesus as its main attraction as Jesus only had the Father and his Kingdom as his main attraction. If people wouldn't be attracted to Jesus then there's no point attracting them with anything else. But church today uses everything else to attract people except the beauty of Jesus.

Church attracts people with its music, programs, activities, strategies, systems, sound system, songs, concerts, facilities, church buildings, etc. but very seldom with Jesus alone because they fear rejection---not realizing rejection of Jesus brings glory to him and to his church. They crave for acceptance and approval. They fear disappointing people with their expectations and their standards.
Woe to you when everyone speaks well of you, for that is how their ancestors treated the false prophets. [Luke 6.26]
Jesus and John didn't have anything fancy with them except God's WORD (Jesus is the Word, in fact) and the works of the Holy Spirit, which were definitely not just fancy. And they remained low-profile and looking like nobodies, looking like scums of the earth. They didn't think they needed to convince people of their worth by pursuing titles and degrees or positions. What the world adored they utterly lacked, and intentionally at that.

Church should re-think its position and realize why it's here---and that is to do God's will alone, not please people and serve their expectations from a church or a pastor. It's important to share the Gospel to as many people and make disciples, but the church has treated this as a marketing goal than a spiritual mission. So instead of helping lost souls, they fear losing membership.

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