Friday, October 21, 2011

Not Just Saved -- Transformed

A whole world of potential is deposited within us when we’re born again. We know it. We believe it. We can taste it. But perhaps, in all honesty, it isn't springing forth very abundantly. Could it be that our transformation into effective Christ-followers has been delayed because we still think like the world?

Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect (Rom. 12:2NLT).

So what do you think? If we think and act like our fellow Christians, are we safe from the "behavior and customs of this world"? Well . . . 

. . . how about the large group of Christians who feel that it is virtuous to heap sarcasm on right-wing politicians who do not always uphold traditional Christian values? In reacting this way toward opposition, are they being distinctively Christian? Let's check it out:

For the Lord’s sake, respect all human authority—whether the king as head of state, or the officials he has appointed. . . . It is God’s will that your honorable lives should silence those ignorant people who make foolish accusations against you. For you are free, yet you are God’s slaves, so don’t use your freedom as an excuse to do evil. Respect everyone, and love your Christian brothers and sisters. Fear God, and respect the king (1 Peter 2:13, 15-17).

Bless those who persecute you. Don’t curse them; pray that God will bless them. . . . Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone (Rom. 12:14, 17-18).

The early Christians really lived like this. And they rocked the world.  

We will be world-transformers also, as we let God--by his Word and by his Spirit--radically change the way we think.

P.S.  A God-changed mind releases God's "good and pleasing and perfect" will in every area of our lives.   J The political arena is just one example.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Voice Activated Doors

The first time I ever heard of voice activated doors was when I was a child, listening to the reading of “Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves.” In this story, Ali Baba, a poor woodcutter plying his trade in the woods, watched unnoticed as a mob of thieves rode up to the door of a cave and called out “Open sesame.” The magical door swung open and the thieves entered to deposit their loot.

Of course, I did not think of this fictional cave as having a “voice activated door.” If there was such technology then (I am confident there was not), I had certainly not heard of it. At that early stage in my life, I was dumbfounded when my father announced that the United States was going to release into space a satellite that would—get this—stay up there. Come on now! I thought. What about gravity? That was the 1950’s and I was a preteen. Guess my science education had not extended yet to centrifugal and centripetal forces.

All of these thoughts about Ali Baba’s “open sesame” and modern technology’s voice activated doors give me a great new perspective on Luke 11:9:

“So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.”

These are among the words Jesus spoke when his disciples asked him how to pray. How to pray . . . hmmmm. How do all three of these verbs relate to praying?

Asking . . . sure, that’s something that we do when we pray.

Seeking . . . does that mean listening to the Holy Spirit and searching the Scriptures to find God’s will in the matter so we can pray according to his will? Probably so. Cool.

But now, knocking . . . there’s no physical door that will swing open to give us access to God’s provision. And if there is a door of some kind, we can’t actually knock on it.

For a clue about “knocking” in prayer, consider these quotes:

Psalm 18:6-7, 16-17
In my distress I called to the LORD;
I cried to my God for help.
From his temple he heard my voice;
my cry came before him, into his ears.
The earth trembled and quaked,
and the foundations of the mountains shook;
they trembled because he was angry.

He reached down from on high and took hold of me;
he drew me out of deep waters.
He rescued me from my powerful enemy,
from my foes, who were too strong for me (emphasis added).

Acts 4:23-24, 29-31
On their release [from jail], Peter and John went back to their own people and reported all that the chief priests and the elders had said to them. When they heard this, they raised their voices together in prayer to God. “Sovereign Lord,” they said, “you made the heavens and the earth and the sea, and everything in them.

 Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. Stretch out your hand to heal and perform signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus.”

 After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly (emphasis added).

These are both examples of a distinctive sort of praying. In the psalmist’s case, he was crying out to God. Peter and John’s Christian friends raised their voices—together. (How loud that must’ve been!) Neither the psalmist or the Christians were silently directing their thoughts to God. They were knocking—with their voices—on heaven’s door. And the door swung wide open. Wow!

Do you need answers from God? Ask. Don’t give up. Knock, even. He invited us to. He’s waiting for the sound of our voices.

Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you;
therefore he will rise up to show you compassion.
For the LORD is a God of justice.
Blessed are all who wait for him! (Isa. 30:18).