I’ve been labeled, well haven’t we all. These days just confessing we believe in Jesus Christ is considered radical by most of the world. But even within the body we tend to label, a radical vs. a normal believer, ya know that one that’s always quoting scripture ( whether ya want em to or not lol ). They spend countless hours in prayer, devotion and study in contrast to another who does read the Bible and attends church regularly, prays just as sincerely maybe not as long, but just has a more subtle personality, just not likely the one we see close to the front with their hands in the air.
Is one right and the other wrong? Obviously both are saved ( i/e are in Christ ) but is one perhaps less sincere than the other?
I suppose we can each answer that based upon our presuppositions, our church backgrounds and that which we are accustomed to and individual personalities. I’m not even going to answer it cuz well, I’ve been perceived as being the radical, from the perspective of one group, considered more conservative in the mixing among another, and being a musician pronounced a heathen by yet another.
What does Paul say?…
“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.” Rom 12:1
In essence it seems he is simply stating Christ gave himself, He gave all and it would just make good sense “reasonable” to return to Him the same. And hey if we’re giving all that we have, though ones giving be much more boisterous and aggressive or surrendering all from a more subtle layed back persons offering I would have to say, at least in my thinking, all is all is all, and who am I to say who’s all is the greatest, how can I even get deep enough into another’s heart and being to make such an assumption?
Well thought I’d share a little story from the pulpit….
A long time back a missionary went and spent some time among a native American Indian tribe who had never heard the gospel nor the name Jesus. The missionary erected a quaint little chapel from stick and pitch and began sharing the gospel message. Now despite the limited vocabulary he possessed of their tongue and their limited understanding of English, nevertheless he was able to share Christ, how He being God allowed Himself to become less than He had always been for a short season because He loved us so. He left his habitation in the sky and came here as a man and told us of His plan to restore those who had been lost so we could once again be in union with Him.
The Indian Chief hearing that was touched deeply and he walked up to the altar surrendering his best head dress and necklace as an offering so very grateful for what he had learned Jesus had given Him “This Jesus give Indian much and Indian should return much.
The next meeting the missionary shared with them how Jesus being God had left heaven which was His home, He left behind all that He had in His heavenly Kingdom coming into this world with nowhere to even lay His head, He healed the sick and gave sight to the blind and had come to forgive the sins of all that would put their trust in Him and choose to believe.
The service not even over the Indian got up and walked out, the missionary wasn’t sure if he had said something wrong but continued teaching those that remained. After a bit He could hear the clanging of something outside as the curtain doorway of the chapel opened wide, the Indian drug in his entire tepee with all that he owned wrapped up into it and said “Jesus leave His home and possessions for Indian only right Indian give Him his home and possessions as well” and layed the pile of all that he owned on the altar.
The next meeting the missionary shared how Christ preached His message for 3 years and multitudes had followed Him though some didn’t like the message He shared. So they brought Him before the religious chieftains and they had Him put to death. But for such reason had He came and as the Bible say’s they weren’t really taking His life but He was giving it willingly as a sacrifice of His love for us so that our sins may be forgiven. So they nailed Him to a wooden cross where He shed His blood as a final sacrifice for our sins that we might live.
At this the Indian chief, with tears running down his face looking up at the missionary climbed upon the altar laying himself there atop all that he had offered prior and said, simply…”He give all to Indian, only right Indian give all to Him.”
It seems we can make the gospel message much more complicated than it needs to be, more stringent with all these religious attachments and more requirements than was ever intended. The Indian Chief didn’t need to understand the depths of Theology or Eschatology, what works nor sacraments or even much doctrine to understand what Christ had given him in the greatness of His love. He didn’t need anyone to give him a long list of do’ and do not’s, this rule, this law, this requirement, in his simplicity, indeed in the gospels simplicity, he simply gave himself in like manner…he simply figured it to be his “reasonable service”.
In my opinion this is one of the best post you have presented – I love it
The story of the Indian touched my heart in tears, your words rang true in my mind, thank you.
This morning after I read your post and thought about for a while, it made me think of a continuing thought of what you had stated.
First let me say I hope I’m not offending you or anyone else whenever I respond and a comment to a post made and add more material. It is not that I thinking any way shape or form that the presentation was lacking anything, I guarantee you this is not so. It’s just the way that my mind works, when someone writes something I think of something that is related – not so much a continuation, or that anything was lacking but just a further thought concerning use the another subject related to it. I always ask myself what my motivations are in writing long comments, if I am trying to upstage anyone or play the peacock, my prayer is that this is not the case. You know me and you know the way my mind works, it functions in a long rambling manner, where thought leads to other thoughts, so please don’t be offended if what I appear to do is add to what you stated. This is not the case I’m simply continuing a different thought related to the same subject matter that you spoke about.
After thinking about your excellent presentation, I thought of the related issue of the teacher.
Whereas you spoke about the issue of the hearer and the gospel of Jesus Christ, what I thought about was the preacher and the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Concerning the spreading of the gospel of Jesus Christ it does not take great insight to believe the Gospel unto salvation (yet it does take the Holy Spirit), this is the mercy of our Lord concerning the simplicity of salvation. But this same principle does not apply to the preacher; he needs to understand the Gospel in Theological terms (though he doesn’t have to have a college education, or understand the intricacies of definitions concerning theological jargon) in order to find ways to break it down so the Indians could understand on their own level (he has to understand what may seem to be complicated issues rather than their philosophic terms are used or not , such as the atonement, reciprocity, tools of presentation such as typology, rhetoric, and figures of speech, as well as grammar; English and Greek; yet none of these must be mastered just understood in order to communicate with people in general, and specifically concerning God and His Word).
Some of the most complicated and elegant sermons were delivered by individuals that never received a formal education, though they became self-taught concerning all of these things – all so that they would serve God with their whole heart, committed to learning everything they needed to know concerning the service as ministers and leaders.
By way of example. God insured that Paul had the widest, deepest, education; training, and experience as a Pharisee – to know how to communicate God’s law & grace, the Gospel in such a way as to chew it up into bite size portions that he could present to the Gentiles. Paul’s training was also in the philosophy of the Greeks / the intellectuals of the day. Paul understand both side of the issue, the ultimate religion of life – though distorted by the religion of the Jewish leaders (Gal. 1:13); and the ultimate academic defense against God as held by the “enlightened” unbelieving aristocrats of the Gentile world (Acts 17:22) – yet it was those three years with the risen Christ that changed his life so that he could use the understanding of both of those extremes to become a “fisher of men” (Matt. 4:19); as seen in Paul’s statements:
“For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more. And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law; To them that are without law, as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without law. To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. And this I do for the gospel’s sake, that I might be partaker thereof with you. Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.” (1Co 9:19-27)
What is interesting is the two English verbs used here: “become” and; “made;” they come from the same Greek word (ginomai), but the grammar is different. The first grammar concerning “become” indicates that God did it to him in the past, so that he could choose to do it in the present. Paul was forced to be weak to understand weakness. In the second use of this same word the grammar is such that Paul willing chose to force himself by strong effort, having had the ability due to training and experience to make the choice to: be “all things to all men ”.
This is not to suggest as some have stated in error that you need to become a drunk to witness to drunks, it is not about changing the message of Jesus Christ, by doing so in a manner that is antithetical to the message. It’s like a guy get up on a stage, making a great display of pride, acting like a peacock through his body language as well as his terminology – it’s all about him – yet his message is the humility of Jesus Christ. The message and delivery are in consistent with each other.
Paul is not suggesting that we compromise in any way shape or form the principles of God’s word in delivering God’s word to the masses. He’s talking about communicating on the level that people understand what’s being said. It’s like using fish jargon to communicate the gospel to fishermen, which is what Jesus did. It’s like using legal terminology in witnessing the lawyers, which both Jesus and Paul did. It’s like using intellectual logic and reasoning at Mars Hill with Paul. It’s like James communicating using terms related to poverty as seen in his letters.
My point is this. Those that choose, and feel called and anointed by God to be ministers of the gospel of Jesus Christ should beat their bodies into submission learning everything they can to represent God to the fullest of their ability so that they can go out and present the gospel in terms that anyone can understand in a simple conversion of thought, such as like your story displays.
Again, excellent presentation. bb
How much more simple can it be…follow Christ example. This is what the Indian did. He heard, he believed what he heard, used the example set forth. Gave exactly what he recieved. How many of us are so willing to do the same? Do we do it for those we can see, those we love right here standing in front of us? Would we do it out of faith for one we cannot see? The Indian was this trusting and this full of faith. This brought tears to my eyes, and made my heart cry out….I owe so much I cannot repay….Thanks Rocky….