Thursday, October 23, 2008

Just Who Do You Think You Are?



Although I’m seeing many people in this hour stand up and say, you know what, Christianity is in fact poorly portrayed right now and we need to address it, there are some who contact me from a “who do you think you are to take the stand that you do?” viewpoint. In order to shed some light and elaborate a bit on this matter, I’d like to share my motives, urges and most importantly, who I am according to the Word of God.

We’re all familiar with the catchy phrase that we’re all supposed to be Jesus’ hands and feet, right? That is seemingly acceptable as long as it pertains to loving our neighbors, feeding the homeless and other things such as sharing the Gospel - you know, "nice" things that people like. But when others of us want to stand up and challenge other Believers, it is, on occasion, referred to as judgmental, prideful and self-righteous.

My question is this, are we Christ’s representative on the earth or not? If we are, then we need to be well-balanced. I can’t be a pushover and have a “do whatever you want” attitude any more than I can have an “in order to be right, you have to do everything like I do” one.

As I’m finding with most every issue I’ve addressed over the last few months, I believe that the problem rests in the fact that Christians don’t really know who they are. Ongoing for the last six weeks or so, I’ve studied a Biblical approach to define Who The Christ is. One section of the article addresses our role as Ambassadors of Christ in the here and now. Christians just do not know that they are Ambassadors of Christ – period (or at least don’t know what it really means to be One). Believers by the thousands are saying “Who am I to say anything about what anyone else is doing?” “I’m just a wretched ‘ol sinner just like you.” “We’re all human, we all sin, it’s just who we are.” “I’m just too busy trying to do the best that I can to challenge anybody else.” No! No! No! I cannot put into words how this mindset lights a fire within me! If you claim to be a Christian and have this mindset, I would not hesitate to question if you’ve truly ever been born from above.

I want to encourage you to read this aloud, word for word: “Therefore if I am in Christ, I am a new building that houses the LORD; my old flesh has died; behold, new life has come to replace the dead.” (2 Corinthians 5:17 – translation mine, via original Greek).


According to this, I am now a new creation, I am no longer just a man. One Greek definition references “creature” as “building”. You were once a house of sin and disobedience destined for wrath, now you are a house of praise inhabited by God Himself! Therefore we must be about our Father’s business, found dwelling in a Kingdom that is not of this world. An ambassador only speaks what his kingdom tells him to say – he is its spokesperson and has no agenda of his own. Sound familiar?

Jesus in John 12:49 - “For I did not speak on My own initiative, but the Father Himself who sent Me has given Me a commandment as to what to say and what to speak."

Now stop and breathe that in as a reality. You don’t need to try harder to be “better”, you simply need to be who you really are already!

I am no longer a “sorry ‘ol sinful man”! I am hidden in Christ, His Ambassador right here upon the earth! Believers have been duped into believing that to stand up strong and know who you are is somehow prideful. Well we don’t want to be prideful now do we? What would Pastor U. R. Sinful say about that? We’ve been so worried about being puffed up and over confident that we have no confidence at all. We are to be strong and sure – in Christ Jesus! He is the good and perfect that is within us. He is the Source of our righteousness. He is our confidence, the One in whom we boast! I ask you, can a sorry old pig that runs around in the mud all day because “that’s just who he is” ever help get another pig out of the muck and mire? Of course not – they will be stuck in the same place together forever – wallowing in the filth. The same is the case in Christianity. The differentiating line between Christian and worldly is so faint, it hardly even exists. Holiness? Oh come now, don’t be over-zealous! Obedience to God above all of religions rules, regulations and traditions? You’re just rebellious. You’re an heir of the things of the Kingdom of God, entrusted to carry out His business? Oh come on, you’re just another man like anyone else – don’t get all big-headed. No I am not just like everybody else! And neither is every other biblically defined born from above Believer in Christ Jesus! We are not the same – we are not just “better” now – we are not of this world, new creatures that live for a different Kingdom than that of this earth. Don’t you see?

If you cannot see it, you have two simple options. You have either been made blind or you are not born from above – period. This is not interpretation, my friend, this is the Word of God. “Unless one is born from above he cannot see the kingdom of God”. (John 3:3) What is the Kingdom of God? Is it Heaven? No. The Kingdom of God is here and now, within His Body, as Jesus time and time again stated. I exist to establish His Kingdom upon this earth. It is imperative that you investigate why you cannot see it, if now you cannot. So I say, if you daily walk with the “sorry ‘ol pathetic me” mindset, I’d encourage you to seek the LORD regarding your salvation. Why? Because it goes against EVERY Biblical definition of what salvation is. Now I’m not saying you’ll always “feel” like an overcomer, but the reality is, in Christ you are. It is time we stop being guided solely by our feelings and emotions and start believing what the Word says about us!

(Sigh) OK, let me calm down a bit here and proceed. I believe that another primary reason we don’t stand up and challenge the Body is because sin is too prevalent in our lives. To put a personal stamp on this point, I’ll share a personal story. I’ve told my wife many times, “If I’m not asking you about your walk with the LORD and challenging you to go deeper in Him, you’d better ask me how I’m doing spiritually, because I’ll likely be lagging behind.” I say that because whenever I’ve been found walking in disobedience and/or willful sin, I have nothing to say – I have no “right” to challenge anyone else because I’m not even challenging myself. Do you see what I’m saying? The Body, I believe, is often not acting as She should (challenging, confronting, warning, etc.) because She is riddled with disobedience and sin. Sin and disobedience sucks the life right out of any power that you may have in the LORD because you are walking according to your flesh, void of His favor. Without the power and identity that comes from intimacy with the LORD, one can never go forth and assist others (bearing eternal, Kingdom fruit). We must be found seeking holiness and purity in the sight of God. Then we can stand up tall and proud – not of ourselves but of who we are in Christ.

With the Body having an identity crisis, it’s no wonder She looks like She does. If we see an athlete on TV thank God for a win or an ability, we say “Hey honey – Look! ‘So and so’ is a Christian! Yeaaa!” If the car next to me has a “Jesus Fish” on their car, I might even smile and wave! Why? Well, because they’re a Christian of course, silly! Do you go to church? Yes? Great! *Ding!* - they must surely be a Believer! Are we not ridiculous? I thought we’re to be known by righteousness, holiness, devotion to our God – not tag lines, trinkets and social identities.


Lastly, knowing that we are Ambassadors of Christ, I believe it is time that the Body examine the Body (this is what I attempt to do here). The way I see it is pretty black and white - the Body that we refer to as such is either not really the Body or she is gravely ill. I implore you, take a long hard look at Her. I am part of the Body and therefore, when I see “cancer” eating away at Her, I will stand and boldly point it out. When you see it in my life, it is your responsibility to bring it to light and tell me. Just as in the natural, how ignorant would it be for me to see a broken bone protruding from my own leg, yet say and do nothing about it? What would you say if I stated “Oh it will be OK, that’s just the way I am”? You would likely think that I was an idiot - and rightly so! Is this not what much of the Body is doing in this hour? We can no longer see Her broken and dying, yet do nothing about if for it is not about us, we are Christ's representatives! We don’t fully see ourselves as the Body or else we would be acting accordingly. May it be so no longer.

So, for anyone who would ask me, “What right do you have to say such things? Who do you think you are?”, I say , it’s not who I think I am at all, it’s who I know I am. I am an Ambassador for Christ. I am part of this Body and I will not idly sit back and watch Her die, for I am part of Her and She is part of me - most importantly Christ is the Head of Her and all that She does represents Him.

“Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.” 2 Corinthians 5:20

9 comments:

Leon said...

Joel, I'm practically speechless..and that's a rarity. I'll post again soon to throw my 1/2 cent in with more detail but for now all I can say is WOW! I was truly moved, and touched by this blog.

I would not be able to argue, or debate a single thing from this detailed, and well presented work. It's very obvious to see the Holy Spirit of God Moved you in this effort..which really says it all.

Jesus Christ MUST be at the FOREFRONT of EVERYTHING we do in this life as His Ambassadors...why do many not understand that?

"(Sigh) OK, let me calm down a bit here"

No WAY brother..you are on FIRE for The Lord Jesus..no need to calmn down from that! :)

Leon III

Mattityahu said...

Thanks Brotha...I needed that. I am loving your blogs. Look forward to reading whenever they come out. It is always refreshing and inspiring to see members of His Body so passionate about Him and unveiling Truth. Give Thanks.

peace.

Like a Mustard Seed said...

Dang... This post really connected with me, and with our story, in a pretty personal way.

As soon as I read the title, it sent me back to an instance several months back, when a pastor of new church plant we had been meeting with a few times was standing in our home, pointing his finger at me (just like in the picture), and asking me, "Just who do you think you are?"

He was very angry. He and his wife had come to our house for dinner, and he had come prepared, (with a notebook and everything), to rebuke us for some posts we had done over the previous couple of weeks, in which we had examined the whole question of who is minister, and the matter of pastor's pay, etc. He started out composed, but after a few minutes, he was livid, and couldn't restrain his anger any longer. We tried to calmly bring the conversation back to the specific verses we had been pondering, which had brought us to these conclusions, however, every time he would divert the 'conversation' away from that, and make it all about how hurtful and condemning our writings were to anyone in the (professional) pastorate.

When he said, "Who do you think you are", he said it in reference to our blog. "Who do you think is even going to read it?" He continued, "Who are you trying to reach?" Who were we to say such things? Nobody was going to pay attention to us and are dumb little blog. We were just 'laypeople'. Oh, he didn't actually use that word, but it was clear as a bell in the way in which he was talking down to us, like naughty little children who had disobeyed. Eventually, my wife couldn't take it any more, and had to ask them to leave. (I wish I had taken the initiative and done that...)

The truly sad part is that we had meeting with this man and his family, and he had talked a great deal about not wanting to be like the big, coorporate-style churches, but instead desired a more intimate, relational setting for fellowship. They had hosted a house-church in their home for a few years before, and were looking to start a church that had that kind of 'feel'. With an emphasis on weekly in-home meetings, while still having an informal Sunday service.

In the end, despite all the talk which on the surface led us to believe that what this guy was longing for was a return to what the scriptures describe and teach, the differences were only skin deep. Ultimately, he did not regard everyone as an ambassador for Christ, as someone who could read the bible and understand it through the light of the Spirit. This is what is truly at the heart of what people need to grasp. When his authority, (or the idea of a pastor getting a paycheck) was called into question, he resorted to the tried-and-true tactic of trying to make us feel small, insignificant, and uneducated. The bullying tactic was used in full force. But, God used that encounter to prompt us to cling to him all the more, and to learn to not be intimidated by those who would like us to just keep silent.

When I look at blogs like this one, and we are finding more and more of them all the time, we see that God is indeed up to something. We aren't the only ones saying these things... He really does want his bride to know that we are all ambassadors of Christ, we were all purchased by His blood, and we all of the Spirit of Christ within us, if we truly put our trust in Him.

Thanks for having the courage to speak for Truth.

In Christ, Daniel

Joel Spencer said...

Leon: I'm glad the piece spoke to you. May we all seek to grasp the fullness of who we are in Christ.

Mattiyahu: I'm glad to see you sticking around. It is encouraging to edify one another and let each other know that their is a part of the Body that is desiring true identity and unity.

Like a Mustard Seed: That's some story Daniel. It always amazes me that many church-goers feel the need to stand up for their church far more than their Christianity. I pray that you continue to walk in forgiveness and assurance that, as stated in the blog, you are carrying out your responsibility as part of the Body. I praise God that He has opened our eyes to see the way out of the "leadership and laity" mindset.

Anonymous said...

Amen and amen. This, my friend, is full of...no... IT IS tje WISDOM of THE AGES. IT IS what God wants his children to know, his church to know. But, I know you know that already; You didn't need to hear it from me because when God wants His truth imparted, the messenger needs no confirmation from a human soul. Thank you for being obedient to the Holy Spirit's leading. God spoke to me in a strong way.

nadine

Anonymous said...

Thank You Joel! xox, Sue
(suzanne7)

Joel Spencer said...

Nadine: Words cannot express how elated I am to hear from so many people that are confirming what the Spirit is saying. Our identity in Him must be discovered!

Sue: Thanks for stopping in.

Miche said...

This came out about 2 weeks ago. If you haven't seen it already, please take the time to watch it. It's long but worth it.

10 Indictments Against the Modern Church

http://www.tenindictments.com/

anddi said...

I was hoping after the red letters input of being born again you'd finish the verse. I blogged this after the 1st comment and before reading this, but the rest of it says,"Ye must be born again,of the water and of the spirit,to SEE the kingdom and to understand the things of it"...And he referred to Acts 2:38 of the salvation plan Peter taught. The spirit saves us after obeying Peters commandment.We are not able to be fruitful,the spirit is God that is good unto all things, we accept and allow HIM reign over our lives,submitting all to HIM!..AMEN