Christians Can’t Be Passive

Jesus said, “”From the days of John the Baptist until now the Kingdom of Heaven has suffered violence, and the violent take it by force.” (Matthew 11:12)

The Passion Translation reads, “From the moment John stepped onto the scene until now, the realm of heaven’s kingdom is bursting forth, and passionate people have taken hold of its power.”

The original language reads, “The kingdom of heaven is entered into by force, and violent ones take hold of it.”

The message of this verse and others like it in the New Testament indicates that you cannot be passive and a believer. You Can’t get saved and then simply sit. You were not saved to sit. You were saved to serve. You cannot be laid back and letting life just happen to you and still call yourself a believer.

A true disciple of Jesus, a believer, will be aggressive. They will be passionate about Jesus and the cause of Christ. Their love for God will grow and overflow onto those who do not yet know the love of God. They will not be passive about sharing God’s love. They will be seriously intentional. 

In their own personal lives they will have a deep hunger to know and to grow. The major constant in their life, other than Jesus, will be change. And, this hunger to know and to grow will not settle for anything less than becoming more and more like Jesus and more alive and active for Him in their relationships. 

Again, this hunger, this passion to learn and grow,  will cause them to look for leaders who will disciple and mentor them. They will be constantly reading, applying what they are learning, and assimilating the lessons and insights into who they are and how they live. 

If you want to walk in the power of the Holy Spirit that you receive when you are Baptized in the Holy Spirit, you can’t be passive. You need to be passionate, aggressive, on fire, and even “violent” in the Bible sense of that word. The power is only released by those who are aggressive and passionate. The apathetic and passive need not apply. 

I have personally found that most people who ask me to mentor them are approaching the mentoring relationship passively. They are not taking the lead. They are expecting me to contact and connect with them. They do not come to a coffee appointment or an on-line connection loaded with questions that they need insight into. They apparently see the time as more a fellowship occasion than an opportunity to learn, to grow and to mature. So, they are passive. And boring!

In one particular case I am facing the person does not initiate the mentoring appointments. Coffee yes, mentoring no! This person does not read on a regular basis. It takes forever to get through a simple and relatively short book. And then the discussion is painful with me asking all the questions. Where, in a mentoring relationship they should come with all the questions ready to be asked. We work through life issues after I bring them up because they are so obvious. But, there is no follow through. So, a year or two later we are facing the same life situations again. And again and again. Although I have not asked I can almost guarantee that this person is not reading the daily blogs I post. Nor are they reviewing the teaching that come out every week. But, time for a coffee. Certainly. Passive, not assertive and aggressive.

Passive people are not moving forward in their personal lives. Nor are they grabbing hold of the Kingdom. And, they have absolutely not “taken hold of its power.” So, I am hoping that one day I will meet a passionate disciple who really does want to reach his or her full potential in the Kingdom and who actually wants to be be mentored. A person who is “violent.”

Social Issues and Jesus

I believe that I am fairly in touch with the social issues of the day. I work with people who are on the frontlines of drug addiction and alcoholism. I work with people who were prostitutes both male and female. I see the violence that is involved in many marriages – not just physical but emotional and verbal; and not just the men abusing the women but also women abusing men. Social issues are many. Some are as old as the Bible and some are relatively new. 

I am currently reading a book called “Beautiful Boy” written by a journalist who is telling the true story of his son and the family as the son slowly defends into serious drug addiction. I am reading it to become more familiar with what happens in and to the family of an addict as they watch a loved one decent into serious addiction sometimes ending in death. The house church I belong to is about to watch “Stopping Traffic” a real life story about sex trafficking of young children and young adult. A current form of slavery. We have a person who is involved in ministering to this group of people and we all want to know more so we can pray and even help end this epidemic.

Have you noticed that Jesus never spoke about social issues current in His day. In the Roman Empire at the time of Jesus there was rampant homosexuality, drug and alcohol abuse, unwanted children were taken to the fields to be left to die, slavery (the backbone of the labour force for the Empire), women were not treated with respect or dignity, prostitution (male and female), and on the list of social ills could go. In spite of all this Jesus never spoke about these issues nor did He directly address them in His teachings and in His discipling of the leaders of the Church – the early apostles.

Jesus simply treated people with dignity and respect. He introduced people to the Kingdom of God through His teachings and the miracles that He did among the people. He spoke of God the Father and how deeply and unconditionally He loves them. He spoke about being born again and having a relationship with the Living God, the Creator. 

When people become part of His Kingdom through being born again the issues of the day, society’s problems, can be addressed and changed. These issues we face are really issues of the heart. So, Jesus aimed at the heart. Change the heart you change the attitude and motives, values and beliefs of the people. Then society’s issues can be addressed and changed. 

The Church today is often so preoccupied with addressing the external problems that we forget the real root of these problems. So, we come across negative as we oppose so many things. People don’t see the love of Jesus. They see the judgment, condemnation, and rejection of those who do not believe as they do. Thus they see the Church as narrow-minded and of little relevance to the world in which we live. 

And, because our focus is addressing the issues we forget or neglect to speak about the Gospel of the Kingdom which is the power of God unto salvation. And, we run programs in the hope of interesting those who are not part of the Church to join us. And, we wonder why the born again Church is not growing and has, in many places, a seriously negative reputation. 

It is time to address the heart issue that causes the societal issues we get so upset about. It is time to focus on the Gospel releasing people from spiritual bondage. Shine the light in the darkness and stop yelling at the darkness. 

We have the answer but we need to earn the right to be heard and taken seriously.

Gone Fishing

Many years ago I was reading through the Gospel of Matthew when the Lord spoke very clearly to me. In Matthew 4:19 Jesus said, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” After I read that verse the Spirit said: “If you are not fishing, you are not following!” I thought, “How true. If we are not sharing Jesus with others and being a witness for Him where we live, work, and play then we are truly not following Him. We may think we are okay and still walking closely with Him. However, we are simply deceiving ourselves.” I still believe that.

When I reached the end of the Gospel of Matthew I again heard the voice the Spirit. I had just read, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20) God spoke and told me that I didn’t believe those words. After a brief argument trying to convince Him that I did believe His Word I stopped and listened. He said, “You don’t believe those words because, if you did, you would have a passport. Without a passport you cannot go into all the world.” I applied for and received my first passport. Within two weeks I was in Ukraine ministering the Gospel of the Kingdom.

You see, the purpose of the Church is not to meet your needs or heal all your hurts and woundedness. The purpose of the Church is to fulfill the Great Commission. To do that we need to be ‘fishing for men’ and telling them the Good News that Jesus saves. Jesus came “to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10). We, His followers and disciples, are to complete that task that He started. We are called to go into all the world and fish for men. It is not an option, it is a command. It is not for special, anointed people. It is a command for every believer to obey. 

Again, as I read the Gospel of Matthew many years later God asked me two questions. Question one: “What business are we in?” I gave Him many answers – caring for the sheep, feeding the sheep, healing the sheep, teaching the sheep… But I knew none of them were the right answer. So, I asked Him, “What business are we in?” And He answered, “seeking and saving the lost!” I knew that but I had become so busy with the sheep I had in the local church I pastored that I was no longer taking the time to share the Gospel with the lost. 

The second question He asked me was, “How’s business?” And my truthful answer was, “It sucks!” Because people were not hearing the good news and people were not coming into the Kingdom. We had been “successful” and had grown a good sized church but had lost the passion of “seeking and saving the lost.” It had been a slow slide away from following Jesus and fishing – but the drifting had taken us a long way from where we had started (Hebrews 2:1).

That day I told the Lord that if He ever asked me that question again the answer would be different. And, since that day I intentionally look for opportunities to share the Gospel of the Kingdom. Being a witness does not happen by accident. It is always something we need to plan for, take time to do, look for open doors as we go through our daily activities. So, I schedule my day with ample time to say “yes” to opportunities as they arise. I live life aware of the urgency to share God’s love with those who do not know Him. Where they will spend their eternity is in play here. 

So, I have made many changes over the years to return to the purpose of the Church and the call upon every true believer. And, as we enter a new season in the physical it is a good time to think, once again, about what is occupying my time and my focus … and make more room in my day to be a witness to the resurrection and a disciple-maker. That is always the emphasis in the Kingdom and the call of the King on all of our lives. 

Been fishing lately?

It’s a New Season

In my nation it is the day before the children go back to school for the fall season. Summer is winding down and the weather feels like fall. The flowers are starting to show signs of the coming winter. The trees are slowly turning colours telling us that fall is here and winter is not far behind. As we change seasons – activities change as we wind down weekends away and begin to become involved in preparing gardens for the coming snow. Children will become involved in after school sports. A new season brings many changes in our social structure, our activities, and family life.

As the seasons change in the natural there are numerous changes in activities and events and the way we spend our time. It is the same in the church. As September begins there are many changes that churches go through – new activities, new programs, ‘back to church’ events to welcome those who have been missing most of the summer and those who have recently moved into the community. Churches go all out to regain the momentum that was lost during the summer break. It is a time for fresh initiatives and new hope. 

The Kingdom of God also goes through seasons. And, it appears that God takes advantage of the changes in the natural seasons to highlight changes in His Kingdom. So, as we move into fall we can sense a shifting in the spiritual realm – the Kingdom realm. We don’t need to guess what these changes are and the effect He is wanting these adjustments to make in the life of the believer and the life of the Church. God is not hiding what He is doing. In fact, He speaks loudly about the changes through His apostles and prophets.

In the Old Testament times He always spoke of changes that were going to happen through His prophets. Amos 3:7 states, “For the Lord God does nothing without revealing his secret to his servants the prophets.” In the New Testament – the Church age – God speaks about the changes through His apostles and prophets. 

Ephesians 2:20 “(The Church) built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone…”

Ephesians 4:11-12 “And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ…”

1 Corinthians 12:28 “And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, helping, administrating, and various kinds of tongues…”

These changes should translate into adjustments in the way we “do church.” These changes should bring about adjustments to our church programs and activities. However, that is often not the case. I see two clear reasons why this is often the case. 

First, the local church does not believe in the present-day ministry of the apostle and prophet. Thus, they do not receive the revelation of the new season and the adjustments that are needed. They do not even recognize that we are entering a new season. So, for them, it is business as usual. 

Secondly, some churches become aware of the changing seasons and simply don’t respond. They feel safe, secure, and comfortable with things as they are. They are literally not interested in changing as change can be messy. People may leave. Adjustments will need to be made to our priorities and out schedules. So, they don’t welcome or receive what the Holy Spirit is now saying to the Church. 

In both cases God does not force Himself and the changes in His Kingdom upon these local churches. However, He also does not cancel His plans and the new season He is bringing upon His Church. He simply moves forward without these churches who don’t respond. Maybe they will join what He is doing later but, in my experience, that is not likely. He still loves them but He is moving forward with His plans and His purposes with or without them. 

The new season will arrive and changes in the Kingdom will happen. He will give everyone who calls on His Name the opportunity to hear about the changes and to respond. But, He does not force His will on anyone. We need to choose to respond if we want to continue walking in His perfect will for the Church (Romans 12:2) and be part of what He is currently doing through His Kingdom upon the earth.