Living Worthy


     In the book Passion, a collection of writings from various Christian authors, Francis Chan tells of a journey he and his family made to spend time with various believers in what we would call "3rd world countries" who were suffering severe persecution for their faith in Christ.  In China, he was invited to speak to a group of people who were part of the heavily persecuted underground church movement.  He felt that he, a very privileged and comfortable believer from the west, had little to offer them, so instead, he began to ask them questions.  First, he asked them, "Don't you have people in your churches who just call themselves Christians, but don't live it out?"  They told him, "That wouldn't make any sense.  If you call yourself a Christian, you automatically lose everything.  Why would someone volunteer for that if they weren't really serious?"
That was convicting.  His next story even more so.  Standing with a group of young Chinese believers, he began to tell them of what is common practice in the American church.  "I told them that if one church offers better child care than another, then a lot of parents are likely to switch.  The students starting laughing harder.  I explained that sometimes the people will switch if the service times are more convenient or if they like one speaker better than another.  The students were dying with laughter.  I felt I was doing a comedy routine, but all I was trying to do was explain the American church to the underground church in China."  More conviction.  What he wrote next was the most convicting, and truthful of all.  "We are the strange ones.  Our actions reveal that we think of the church as a building and ourselves as consumers.  The rest of the world looks at us and laughs. Where is the disciple making?  Where is the commitment?  Where is the manner of life that lines up with the gospel?"
     In Philippians 1:27-28 Paul writes, "Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ.......standing firm in one spirit, side by side for the faith of the gospel."  If you read that and think, "OK, I just have to try harder, do more, be more faithful, be less selfish," than you miss it all. The only way we can live a life worthy of Him is to be filled with His very life, so that, as Paul wrote, "It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in (and through) me."  We can do unselfish works, but only He can give us and cause us to live unselfish lives.  Those, like the believers in the underground churches, who suffer for Him, do so because they have discovered, know, and live in His life and love.  It is a way of life, and no other way makes sense to them.  Any other kind of life is, to them, literally, a joke.
    Augustine said, "There are only two kinds of love.  The love of God unto the forgetfulness of self, or the love of self to the forgetfulness of God."  Two kinds of love.  Two kinds of walks.  Which one is yours and mine?

Pastor O


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   May 2019   
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