- 2019Jan 11
Look out for the dogs, look out for the evildoers, look out for those who mutilate the flesh.PHILIPPIANS 3:2
The early Christian church had a problem. The problem was that those who were new to the faith were being persecuted and harassed by those who wanted to lay unnecessary religious burdens upon them - a concept we generally refer to as legalism.
Today's church continues to have the same problem.
The apostle Paul had little patience for these types of folks, calling them dogs and evildoers. He knew that in Christ there is true freedom, and not just a new, different, shinier set of chains. Life in Christ is a life free from chains, free from bondage, free from lies and deception, free from having to be 'good enough', free from 'box checking', and free from fear.
...one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 15 Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. 16 Only let us hold true to what we have attainedPhilippians 3:13-16
Paul had to deal with these types the rest of his life, and perhaps you have dealt with them as well. When we are attacked by these evildoers, and stand up for truth against their scheming, it will often lead to being ostracized and gossiped about. It can be painful to watch as they prosper as those who stand in the freedom of Christ suffer for doing good.
A root of bitterness can grow in our lives, and leave us empty and frustrated. This is why Paul encourages us to forget what lies behind. Paul encourages us to dwell not on the past and what could have been or should have been, but dwell on what lies ahead, fixing our sights upward on Christ.
Forget what lies behind. Forget the legalism. Forget the sin that drags you down. Forget the regrets, forget the mistakes, and press on toward the goal. Press on towards the prize.
In Christ we are more than conquerors, but Satan will use every weapon at his disposal against you. Including legalist evildoers.
Leave all that behind. Forget what is in the past, and press on to the freedom and full life that are yours in Christ.
- 2018Dec 10
“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God,” reads the year’s top verse, Isaiah 41:10. “I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” That exhortation from the Old Testament prophet Isaiah was shared, bookmarked, and highlighted more than any other passage by hundreds of millions of YouVersion users.
YouVersion is by far the most downloaded Bible app available, and so this is a good representation of what people are looking at in the Bible. Christianity Today[/caption]
We are seeking the power of God to face our fears, and that's a good thing. But what is it that we are so afraid of? A few years ago I wrote about the now famous #DropTheBlanket moment in a Charlie Brown Christmas, and the thing went viral.
Why? Because we live in a world of fear and uncertainty and people clearly relate to that.
Especially as we are celebrating #Advent, this is telling.
Now more than ever, we are daily surrounded with the uncertainty of not knowing what the future holds. Social media and instant headlines only add to the fact that we have little certainty to lean on, little that we know for a fact will withstand whatever chaos the world throws at us next.
The way the world was for our grandparents is no longer the way the world is for us, and we are tasked with trying to figure out what normal should look like in the 21st century.
We go to sleep at night and wake in the morning only to have our smartphones telling us how horrible the world is.
It's a 24/7 thing.
So it's no wonder we are in a world filled with fear. I am encouraged, however, that people seem to be seeking God in facing fears. He alone can rescue us from living a life consumed with fear, and he alone can give us peace and stability in turbulent times.
I am reminded that in Christ, we have an answer to our fears; that he was born a poor child in a chaotic world, lived in a troubled land oppressed by a dictatorial regime, existed in a society that was overtaxed, overworked and longing for someone to make all things right, to make all things new.
Which reminds me that God gets it.
He came to us to redeem us, and he understands us and every deep longing of our hearts. He came for us once, and he is coming again.
He is the complete, ultimate, and only antidote to our fears, which means that We are not forgotten, and we are not alone.
- 2018Nov 10
(originally posted at jasonsoroski.net)
This week I attended the Right Now conference in beautiful Dallas, Texas with others from my church. There was a lot of good things discussed there, but there is one that has been on my mind for some time that holds a lot of meaning for the moment we live in.
There is a lot of talk these days about how we live in a politically charged, divisive time. However, the Apostles of Jesus also lived in a politically charged time, and the stakes were extraordinarily high.
There was plenty of hatred for those in governmental authority, and that was not unfounded: the Romans were ruthless, violent, and unrelenting in their domination of those they ruled, and the Jewish rulers had no qualms in arresting, beating and murdering the disciples of Christ by throwing rocks at them until they died.
So what did the first church leaders have to say about government?
First, there is Paul, who was a Roman citizen in good standing, yet was arrested, beaten, and eventually beheaded for the offense of believing in Jesus. Paul said this:
"be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God". - Romans 13:1.
And then there is Peter, who would be beaten and arrested for preaching the Gospel, and according to tradition, died at the hands of the Romans by being crucified upside down. Peter says,
"Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor." I Peter 2:17.
Now, I love politics as much as anyone. I have strong views of what American government should look like. I hate injustice, corruption, and I love a good campaign. Yet in my lifetime, there have been 8 presidents of the United States: 5 Republicans and 3 Democrats, generally switching off every few years. The world wasn't destroyed under any of them, and I don't figure it will be anytime soon.
Should we drop out of the political process? Not at all. We should be actively engaged and involved. But never in hate, always for the good of the Gospel, and with the knowledge that this world, and this nation, as much as we love it, is not the end all of our salvation.
Just like Paul and just like Peter, we are citizens of a different kingdom, ambassadors from an eternal realm that is not of this world, and nothing that happens in any election will change that. Our future is not here. Our future is Heaven.
If we are successful in changing policy, that is wonderful. But if we are successful in changing hearts, starting with our own, that is eternal.