Middle-Class Jesus, or the Truth of Sacrifice

“We were settling for a Christianity that revolves around catering to ourselves when the central message of Christianity is actually about abandoning ourselves.”    – David Platt: Radical (p. 7)

Here we are.  America, 2012.  The pressing issues in the nation? The economy, presidential elections, gay-rights, and a flurry of

American Megachurch

other not-so-important issues that each of us have deemed earth-shattering.  In our Churches, we claim the victory of Christ, but we have not suffered for him (a grandiose generalization I know).  We build our churches bigger and better to make church seem more appealing to the masses.

THIS IS NOT A MESSAGE ABOUT THE LAVISHNESS OF LARGE CHURCHES

This is a message about the believer.  The individual believer.  We have watered down the gospel to make it more comfortable.  The stories we hear about individuals that Christ interacted with are taken as figurative examples.  Whether by blind ignorance or willful disobedience we overlook these passages because they take us to a place that we are not ready to go.  Jesus told people who said they’d follow him that they had to sell everything they had, to leave their homes, to not even look back if they wanted to follow him yet we read the scriptures on our new tablets or smartphones, sitting in our comfortable living room set or in an overpriced coffee shop sipping on an overpriced blend of coffee and milk.  I am guilty of these things.  I enjoy my comfort, and despite how much I talk about the need to live more sacrificially, I want to keep my belongings.  I don’t mind sharing, but they are mine.  I even have five storage bins full of old toys, cards, and third grade sketches for my childhood in a garage 500 miles away!

The point is: EVEN WHEN WE THINK WE ARE POOR OR DON’T HAVE ENOUGH WE LIVE LIVES OF EXCESS

Men sleeping on the dirty streets of Haiti

I recently read a blog entry from a man who had returned from a trip to Haiti.  He talked about the extreme poverty, about the children digging through trash piles to find any possible scraps of food they can, about the workers whose job it is to go to every latrine (outhouse) and collect the human waste and throw it into the street gutters because they lack even the most basic western amenities (i.e. a sewer/septic system).David Platt, in his book Radical, talks about his trips to Asia to visit the underground churches and the suffering and persecution they face.  Our brothers and sisters are being tortured and dying for their faith, losing everything to oppressive governments and violent opposition.  Yet many American Christians live in excess not only with flat screen HD-TV’s or Blu-Ray players, but even those of us who have far less.  We can are just as wrong!  We complain that we don’t have enough, yet we have food in the pantry, one or more vehicles, new-ish computers and smart-gadgets.  I believe that we would be well served to remember our brothers and sisters that have nothing.  They are more blessed than we are!

“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake, for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven.  Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.  Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”  –Matthew 5:10-11 (ESV)

I understand that these words may not be well received, but I pray that we would all be open to the Holy Spirit, and that we would strive to be more like the early followers of Christ who left their worldly possessions behind to follow the Son of Man.

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