Sunday, June 15, 2014

"Things so much worse than death!"

So I love Disney movies. And if you've ever noticed, the villains usually get the best quotes (not fair, Disney). Like this one from The Return of Jafar: "there are things so much worse than death!" Go ahead, say it in as raspy a voice as you can, it's just so much fun to say*.

But you know what? I think Jafar's dead on (no pun intended). After all, right off the top of my head, I can think of at least three:

1. Not having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ

2. Watching your unsaved loved ones go through their lives without that relationship with Christ

3. When someone eats the last piece of cornbread**

Okay, so at least there's an easy fix for the last one. Go make yourself some more. Or get thee over to the Super Walmart. But since this isn't a cooking blog or a shopping blog, I'll let you solve that.

Let's talk about #1.

You see, accepting Christ's gift of salvation is only the beginning of having a personal relationship with Him.
God doesn't give us quick fixes. Getting saved doesn't mean you will never ever think a bad thought, or struggle with telling the truth, or be afraid, or deal with unholy anger. It doesn't mean you will even be free from temptation of the sin you were living in before you became a Christian. What it does mean, though, is that you no longer have to live like that. God has given and will give you the strength to overcome those sins. But just like any friendship you have with a person, you have to spend time with God to really get to know Him, to be changed by Him. We have to spend time in prayer and in His Word to build that relationship, to trust Him, to listen to Him, and not to the world.

Because listening to the world is deadly.

John writes:

"Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world.
You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. They are of the world. Therefore they speak as of the world, and the world hears them. We are of God. He who knows God hears us; he who is not of God does not hear us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error."

(1 John 4:1-6 NKJV)

The problem is, though, that many of us still believe those spirits. 

We believe the prosperity gospels which tell us that once we're saved, we can go on like mindless little sheep and everything will be okay. 

We believe the world when it tells us that if we don't dress or act a certain way, we're not "sexy" and we're worthless. 

We believe in Botox Christianity, where instead of living daily in prayer, clinging to God for dear life, we can get our weekly or bi-yearly church injection and be in the clear. 

We fall into sins like sex outside of marriage, or homosexuality, or hatred and bitterness, because we turn to the spirits of the world. Don't even think for a second that any of us who are Christians are exempt, that we can't possibly fall into temptation. The Only One Who holds us back from falling into the same sins as the world is God, and so often, we find ourselves falling prey to the same evils as the world, because we trusted the spirits of the world instead of God.

We trust the spirits of the world because we don't know how to test whether they are of the Spirit, whether they are of God or of the devil, because we haven't developed that relationship.

Instead of developing our relationship with Christ, we put our faith on a shelf, done with Him as soon as we mumble the prayer of salvation, relying on Him for forgiveness but never going beyond that to rely on Him for every breath we take. 

We get caught up in the things of the world, living the life of the world, putting back on the shackles of the world and ignoring the One Who set us free from all of that. Never letting Him remold us into His image, never letting Him pull us into the close relationship He wants to have with us.

Instead we hold Him at arms' length, saying, "Thanks for saving me, God, but I don't need You for this whole life thing, see You in Heaven."

We become ineffective, shallow-hearted Christians. And to me, that's so much worse than death.

*I promise, I'm weird, but my mental state is perfectly fine.
**Okay, confession, I'm being a little melodramatic here with #3

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