Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Your Own Personal (and Private) Jesus

I was recently (February 2014) asked to write a 500 word article/commentary for the Religion section of the local newspaper. I discovered how very difficult is it so write something of substance, make your points and explain those points in just 500 words! My first revision of the article was over 800 words... far too much, so I had to take a more minimal approach, constantly editing down, reducing my number of points, cutting, simplifying and being as succinct as I could.... Even with all that, I went over a bit (by 11 words!) Fortunately, the paper was accommodating. Here's the final text of the article as submitted.

Your Own Personal (and Private) Jesus

As a follower of Jesus Christ, I want my life (and my thoughts) to honor Him. That can be difficult when, wherever I go, I am surrounded by a culture that thrives on sensuality and selfishness. Spiritually, I feel like I’m always on defense, continuously having to “avert my eyes” and my mind. According to a 2012 Gallup poll, 77% of Americans “identify with a Christian religion.” If that’s the case, why doesn't our nation better reflect Christian values?

There are many reasons. I’ll focus on two. First, let’s be honest, most Christians are far too caught up in the pleasures and distractions of this world. We are surrounded by images that stimulate not only our senses, but our desire to WANT things. We spend our time chasing after possessions, ideals and fantasies that have no value whatsoever in God’s Kingdom. Secondly, we've bought into the idea that we should keep our faith in Jesus private. The culture tells us… “Let’s not make others uncomfortable,” so we comply, keeping our Jesus-faith “personal” and hidden. We walk around in “secret,” blending into the busy, always-in-a-hurry world around us.

The result? Many Christians don’t look like Christians. We look like everyone else. We talk to our friends/family/coworkers about the latest movies, games, gadgets and politics… but not Jesus. We remain spiritually anonymous, which begs the question… if the people around us don’t see Christ in us, are we truly being Christians? Think about it (1 John 1:6).

In Matthew 5:13-16 Jesus says that we are to be the salt and light of the earth. Salt is meant to add flavor. It’s not intended to “blend.” It’s supposed to enhance, and if it doesn't Jesus says, it’s “no good for anything.” Light also has a purpose… to shine, to be seen, to light up the dark, and to “glorify your Father in heaven.” Jesus intends that His followers be salt and light. He wants them to be noticed, seen, heard and observed. Jesus did not intend for Christians to remain anonymous, because HE is not anonymous.

While not all of us are called to be pastors or teachers of the Word, we are all called to be ambassadors of Christ (2 Cor. 5:18-20, Col. 3:17). As His ambassadors, we should represent Him wherever we go, encouraging others to seek reconciliation with God through Jesus Christ. God put us in a specific job/city/school/place for that reason, so that when others look at us, they see Jesus reflected, reaching out to a lost world, offering forgiveness, peace, and hope of everlasting joy.

Go take a look in that metaphorical mirror. Do you reflect Jesus? What do people see when they look at you? Does Jesus ever enter into your conversations? Do you encourage others with scripture? Do you pray with those who are hurting?

My words of salt to you: if you call yourself a Christian, make sure that in all you do, all you say, everything you post on Facebook… you reflect Jesus Christ. Let His light shine through you (Eph. 5:7-14), drawing others out of the darkness. If every Christian did that, our culture would be a little less dark.

David Nevue

An abandoned church in Locust Grove, OR. Photo by David Nevue.


Blogger Tawnya said...

Great article David. Thanks for the reminder.


2:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank goodness we all don't fall under this "Christian" thing. I sure hope our world and country don't identify with religion as much as you say we do.

And mixing church and state is a very bad idea. My goodness Thomas Jefferson was an athiest.

I'm thankful for good people and the direction life is evolving as far as the religion thing.

Bill Maher has it right! His ideas and his points are spot on!

I'm sure this won't be posted as it doesn't fit within your "Box", but just wanted you to know.

Isn't something obvious by the lack of response on this blog?

2:25 PM  
Anonymous Jace Vek said...

Anonymous, suppose I said this to you:

"I'm grateful that the world doesn't think the way you do, we are much better off without people who share your religious, or in this case, "anti religious beliefs."

Would you take offense? I would certainly hope so- because I like my words to be received in the intention they are written. I don't veil things.

But, I'm certainly not saying that for many reasons, not the least of which is "respect" for your beliefs and your right to believe them. That is up until you criticize someone for exercising the same freedom. So lets begin shall we?

Since you are big on history, does "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" ring a bell for you? Perhaps you should send us a list of whom is entitled to pursue it, and where, when, why and how they may pursue it.

Here's some more history for you: Yes, Thomas Jefferson was an atheist. He also practiced slavery, keeping African American slaves and he employed slave masters who beat them- this is historical fact. You might have omitted that since it didn't fit in your box.

You compare David to living in a box. You'll have to forgive me if I find that mildly amusing.

To imply that spiritual belief in Christ is imprisoned thinking, or perhaps short sighted, is a very aggressive and inaccurate observation.

You seem to be preaching using the same tactic that you would deplore from someone preaching or evangelizing to you. If you are so free-minded, why do you speak with such a close minded way?

The problem with most atheists that I have encountered is that they don't stop to consider that whether they like it or not, they are participating in dogmatic extremism. Especially when they are on a mission to counter, debate, or in your case "offend" the religious person they are aiming at with prejudiced generalizations about a person they've never even met.

Would you consider a Christian prejudiced for having a less than stellar opinion of you for atheism? Well, turn it around and try it on for size because that is what you are doing.

And, I'm coming to you from a very open minded place on matters of religion and everything else.

If you want to be an atheist, that's up to you. Is it ok with you if Christians a allowed the same freedom?

These are my words, and Im not afraid to stamp my name to them.

4:34 PM  
Anonymous Jeff Bjorck said...

Thanks for your encouraging words, David. If more people truly sought to live out their faith rather then just slapping it on a bumper sticker or t-shirt, perhaps there would be fewer individuals who could rightly point at the church as being "full of hypocrites."

Thanks also for showing respect to "Anonymous" and leaving his post up on your blog. Whereas your choice to let this person's voice be heard does not surprise me at all, perhaps it will surprise this individual in a good and helpful, and even encouraging way.

Thanks also to you, Jace, for pointing to the logical flaws in a one-sided argument. The first amendment is always less palatable when it is used to state things counter to our own views.

9:22 PM  

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