Today we discussed being an "even though" Christian.
Many Christians today constantly allow problems, limitations and troubles to affect our choices. What is the mission of a Christian? - to spend our lives spreading the gospel of Christ and making disciples of all nations. So, to put it more simply: disciples making disciples. It is my belief that a true disciple of Christ will overcome any limitations to advance the Kingdom of God.
"Okay Jesse, I get it."
But do you really? I cant help but notice when brothers and sisters in Christ grumble and complain. Over and over I'll hear about how this person doesn't really like this person because of that reason or how this person and that person don't really get along because they are just "called to different things." Well - God never intended for the body of Christ to be separated, sure, the leg is the leg and the arm is the arm... but we work in unity together advancing as one body. God is challenging the church (not just us, LFDC) to unify under one banner and let the world know that we love one another with a love never known by the world.
Recently, I was under the impression of a complaint about another Christian. I understand, there likely was no foul intent or play - but God spoke and it really stood out to me. "Baby Christians do baby Christian things." There must be a grace for those who are newer in the Lord. How can the church ever expect to grow if there is no room for grace? I get it, we praise, pray and meet a lot... but if someone has a hard time hanging in for all of that, how do we ever expect to add new converts to the church? We must have an understanding that different people are called to different levels of commitment for their current season. I understand that we may think, "Well, our kids can focus for 2 hours, 3 times per week in a prayer service... why cant an adult?" Well, to put it delicately, some adults aren't where the kids are spiritually. Am I handing the keys of the church to a teenager? No. I'm just saying, that in the end times (I believe we are in) that God will pour out His Spirit upon all flesh. Just because someone is a passionate, God-loving adult does not automatically mean they have to do every little thing exactly how we expect them to do it. Pray about it.
Even though my bro/sis in Christ offended me... I will forgive them and continue to love them as I would have if it never happened.
Sorry, that wasn't even really something I planned on writing.. I'm just very passionate about understanding that you cannot impose your personal convictions on someone else. Especially if they are newer in the Lord (that is, Spiritual years) ...I digress.
Back to the "even though" Christian theme.
"Even though following Christ can be challenging, I will continue to pursue His will in my life."
"Even though my family hates religion and may not want to speak to me, I will choose God."
"Even though I'm the best drummer in the world, and the drummer on stage isn't even that good, I will ignore my egotistical flesh and worship and praise Him anyway." (sorry drummers, you usually have the wrestle of "they aren't keeping the beat") -- I will be the first to admit, when the beat is off, it is hard to focus on worship - but I challenge you to do it!
"Even though the speaker is not cool, I will listen, because I believe God is using him/her to minister to me today."
Saying "even though" changes the idea behind a thought. The Word challenges us to take every though captive and make it obedient to Christ. So yes, you may have a complaint or a legitimate concern - but let's think of the solution before complaining of the problem. To be honest, I'd rather the "even though" portion, stay inside your mind. Even though I don't want to take out the garbage, I will. "Yes Pastor, I would love to take the garbage out." There is blessing in serving and obedience. Often times we miss our blessing due to our rebellious "why me" attitude.
Philippians 2:14 - "Do all things without grumbling or disputing."
Philippians 4:11 - "Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am in." even though I wanted that promotion, I will still trust in God's timing.
1 Thessalonians 5:18 - "..in everything give thanks; for this is God's will for you."
Ephesians 4:29 - "Let no corrupt talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear."
My example is found in Luke 19 - a man by the name of Zacchaeus.
[1-4] He entered Jericho and was passing through. And behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus. He was a chief tax collector and was rich. And he was seeking to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was small in stature. So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him, for he was about to pass that way.
In the early verses, you encounter a rich man who has physical limitations. He is short. We all have some sort of natural or physical limitation when it comes to seeking Jesus. It is about deciding that in spite of having a limitation we can overcome. He could have complained, went home and said to himself, "if Jesus really wanted me, He would have come to my door." But a rich, proper and likely astute man ran ahead and climbed a tree. Something God spoke to me when reading through this passage was that many Christians today are sitting back and WAITING on Pastors to build them a set of bleachers. "Well, it is the Pastor's responsibility to ensure that I can see Jesus from where I am." Pastors need help too. Pastors are searching for those who want Jesus so much that they will make themselves uncomfortable in pursuit of Him.
[5-6] And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today.” So he hurried and came down and received him joyfully.
In verse 5, when Jesus looked up to Zacchaeus, I couldn't help but ask myself, "Where am I when Jesus looks up? Am I waiting eagerly for Him?" I pray that I am the man sitting on the tree when Jesus looks up. I want Jesus to come into my house and mess of a life and I will receive Him joyfully. "Even though my house is a mess, I'm letting Jesus in."
God was speaking to me today that the problem is now, rather than 1 man (Jesus) in 1 body, we have 1 Spirit able to be in any body. Jesus left because he could not do what the Helper could.
God asked me, "If Jesus were at that Saturday night revival service, would you be there?"
And of course I answered, "Yes God, I would be there."
He then questioned me, "Now how come people have guaranteed access to My presence, yet they still will choose to skip?"
You see, the problem isn't that we don't want God - I know we all do - the problem is that we think, "I can access God or the Holy Spirit whenever, where ever and however."
You're not wrong.
But here is the problem with this thinking - WE MISS OUT.
If Zacchaeus thought to himself, "Jesus is everywhere, anywhere at any time." He likely chooses to walk back to his house and ask God over. That is fine. But there is a PURPOSE God has for you, and I'd hate for you to miss it.
"Even though I can access God whenever, where ever, I will choose to be a part of what God is doing with my brothers and sisters. He has a plan for me too."
If you're missing, you're missing out.
 And when they saw it, they all grumbled, “He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.”
Oh no, a sinner experiencing Jesus, what do we do? I know this is religion at its finest - but come on, have I seen this in the church today? Absolutely. People are jealous of what God will do for a "sinner." I always ask myself, "Who wants the Holy Spirit more? Who wants God's plan more? Who wants to be God's favorite?" We all know God doesn't technically have a favorite, but shouldn't we strive for it? Pursue a chance to be God's trusted steward? His hands? His feet?
Make the decision to be an even though person who chooses Christ first in every situation. I'm not here to look good, feel good or even 'be good.' God alone is good, and His plans are good.
Thank you friends and family,
I pray God uses this to encourage you to walk in your full calling and mandate, that God will use each one of us in His perfect will to advance the Kingdom of God. Amen.