Which Kingdom do you belong to?
How does the World hate you?
Does the World hate you? If it doesn’t then perhaps you’re doing something wrong. And if it does, how can that make us an effective witness?
Well, it depends on what we mean by The World. The World hated Jesus when he first came.
"If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.” (John 15:18)
This does not mean that Jesus is hateable – quite the reverse really – but it means that the Kingdom that he brought about is basically incompatible with the one that runs the World. We note in the Lord’s Prayer that Jesus’ first and most profound challenge was to issue the heart-felt call “Thy Kingdom Come”. That is revolutionary. It means this World’s system is no good and must, sooner or later, be replaced by God’s Kingdom, come down to earth. No wonder the “Kings of this World” are not generally well-disposed towards Jesus! Jesus’ Kingdom and the World’s systems are incompatible. It’s oil and water, they basically don’t mix … unless the oil is soluble in water. Which brings us back to ourselves …
A Christian is meant to be someone who is insoluble, who doesn’t dissolve in the World’s systems. We are meant to remain visibly separate, which will make the World hate us. But at the same time we need to be sufficiently attractive to those trapped by the World’s systems, who are looking for an escape. These people need to see our lamps.
"You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden.Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14-16)
Now examine yourself. You may have an extensive knowledge of the Bible (even Leviticus), even to the extent of memorising key verses and big chunks of the Psalms. You may have a firm grasp of Church history, the creeds and the liturgy. You may be blessed with the spiritual gifts of tongues, prophecy or healing. You may be a gifted preacher or teacher of the Word, respected by your congregation of fellow Christian workers, or beyond. You may even be a full-time Christian worker, working for your local Church or a para-church ministry, making an impact nationwide, or even worldwide …
But does your lamp shine?
This is a fundamental contrast between the Greek and the Hebraic (Jesus) Mindset. The above list of knowledge and skills is a typical menu for the average Western Christian but, when push turns to shove, it’s the execution of the knowledge and skills that is lacking in most of us. I may be a writer of twelve books, to say nothing of the podcasts, blogs, DVDs, booklets, youtube videos etc., but when was the last time I visited (or even spoke to) the three neighbours on the other side of the road, two of whom have cancer and the other multiple sclerosis? It’s a deep shame and one that gets deeper every day I do nothing about it. It’s my hope that the catharsis of writing about this would be the catalyst for acting on it!
And how about you? The probability is that there ain’t anything to fix, but my experience is that there are many Christians like me, good on theory but lousy on practice. If your conscience pricketh then pause now and ask God to bring in mind just one person or situation where your lamp can shine.
For the previous article in this series, click here.
For the next article in this series, click here.
To find out what is my favourite book of the Bible, click here.
You can reach Steve with any comments or questions at the Saltshakers Web Community website.