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Thursday, July 7, 2016

Wake up!

The events of the last few weeks from Orlando to Istanbul, North Korea to Louisiana, Baghdad to the Carolinas, Nairobi to Washington DC; the racism, the hatred, the pain and distress... People acting as if they are above the law, people for whom the law doesn't protect, people for whom the law directly opposes and ostracizes...

It all goes to show one thing very clearly: Our World is Broken 

And all that we are doing; our institutions, our nonprofits, our attempts at peace... they just aren't working. 

The battle truly begins not with legislation, but in the hearts of men.

The prophet Jeremiah said of our condition this:

"The human heart is the most deceitful of all things,
    and desperately wicked.
    Who really knows how bad it is?"

Answer: Only God. For He is the one who searches hearts and minds. He examines our secret motives and He gives us exactly what we deserve.

But God never intended to leave us in that place of despair. So many of us walk around as if that is the ultimate truth, that mankind is wicked, beyond any kind of repair or redemption.

But God sent Himself to come and redeem ALL of that which was broken... and there is only One who came to re-create the heart. 

  • He taught us that loving our neighbors and loving our enemies would bring peace.
  • He taught us that hurt is not something we "get over", but something we can stand up on top of, something that we can conquer.
  • He taught us that revenge doesn't heal the hurt or the longing but that redemption does.
  • He taught us that real love is self-sacrificial, not selfish.
  • He taught us that wealth and power fades, money is fickle, but that holiness stores up endless dividends. 
  • He taught us that all life matters to God, ESPECIALLY the lives of the poor, oppressed, despondent, and ostracized.
  • He taught us that the Kingdoms of this world will always fail at giving humanity its deepest longing.
  • He taught us to pray with true expectant hope.
  • He taught us to take care of each other and look out not for our own interests but also the interests of others.
  • He taught us that loving God means loving others.

Church, the world won't wake up to the notion that Jesus' way is better until WE start living like we truly believe His ways are better.

The world needs Jesus. They need His salvation. They need His peace. They need His way of life.
They need Eden restored.

We aren't called to live like this to earn salvation. 

We are called to live like this so that salvation can truly work within us and through us, to change us.

1.) We live differently, because the world needs us to.
The object of our denying of self is to call a dying world back to our lifesource. It is to live the Gospel of Christ out in our every breath. It is so that WE as a people, a holy nation, a royal priesthood, a people belonging to God can show others a better way, the way of Christ.

But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.
“Once you had no identity as a people;
    now you are God’s people.
Once you received no mercy;
    now you have received God’s mercy.”
Dear friends, I warn you as “temporary residents and foreigners” to keep away from worldly desires that wage war against your very souls. Be careful to live properly among your unbelieving neighbors. Then even if they accuse you of doing wrong, they will see your honorable behavior, and they will give honor to God when he judges the world.
- 1 Peter 2:9-12 NLT

2.) We live differently because we grow from it too.

The goal of the Christian is to become conformed to the image of Christ (Romans 8:29). Spiritual formation is the process of being conformed to the image of Christ for the sake of others. When we intentionally live on mission and mirroring what we see Christ doing more and more it becomes habitual. We become better. Our hearts are more malleable to the call of God. We hear God's Spirit more clearly. 

We are justified by faith... but we become holy not by thinking right thoughts, but by living out what God calls us to.

Jesus wasn't a theologian locked in a library, he was a practitioner... and He calls us to the same.

It is living in cruciformity, for our betterment.

So, how can you start, today? 

  • Say hi to your next door neighbor. Get to know their name and their story.
    Buy coffee for a stranger.
    By all means, pray. Pray for wisdom and for guidance. Pray that God melts your heart for the people who He loves. 
  • Read the Bible. Start with a Gospel (Matthew is a good one!) Put into practice what you read about.
  • Show kindness to the girl at work who gets under your skin.
  • Sit with the kid that no one likes.
  • Buy lunch for a homeless man.
Those are suggestions for starting points, what would you add?


Nathan Bryant

is a pastor at River Run Church in East Orlando, FL. As a student at Ozark Christian College in Joplin, Missouri he majored in Biblical Leadership, New Testament Studies, and Missiology.  In 2014 he attended the Leadership Institute in Phoenix, AZ where he continued his education from other pastors and educators at one of the fastest growing churches in the United States. He loves the outdoors, whether it is camping in the mountains or jumping through the waves at the beach, nothing is better than enjoying God’s creation. Nathan longs for unity and commitment to Jesus to be a defining element in the global church of his generation.

Christ's Kingdom is bigger than our causes.
Christ's Kingdom is bigger than our boundaries.

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