Beyond a Mere Christianity ~ Chapter 20
R & R, an abbreviation for “rest and relaxation,” is the end to which most spend their lives. For those devoted to Christ – desiring the most from our relationship with Him in this life and for eternity – R & R means more than time out from our normal labors. Our calling and our work for His kingdom here on earth require a complete and indisputable loyalty to Him.
We know what rest and relaxation look like. Everyone works for it and welcomes it whenever possible. It requires a total giving of ourselves to nothing but ourselves.
But there is a rest beyond this world – beyond a mere Christianity – promised to the followers of Christ even before this life is finished. We are in preparation for that eternal rest while engaged in the work of the kingdom, here.
rivet (Merriam-Webster) A rivet is a fastener that holds something closed or down, and something riveting keeps you glued to your seat and grabs your attention; having the power to fix the attention; engrossing, fascinating.
To be riveted (Cambridge English Dictionary) To not be able to stop looking at something because it is so interesting or frightening.
“For the love of Christ compels us …. that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” 2 Corinthians 5:15-17
A radical Christianity is a life no one understands except those who know Christ as Lord and Master of all life – physical and spiritual. It is a calling by the power of the Holy Spirit for us to leave our nets and other collections to follow Him. It is the Spirit of Jesus Christ that captures our attention even as He embraces our hearts, our minds, and our beings. I use the plural pronoun because I am not the only one He has chosen to leave all for Him.
“Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts.” 2 Corinthians 1:22 (See also Ephesians 1:13)
To engage in the profundity of the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ is more than we are able to imagine. It is a spiritual, divine, and supernatural way of life. This means that He, by His Spirit, has turned my life from self – total denial to the world – to undenied sacrifice to Him.
“The words of the wise are as goads,
and as nails fastened by the masters of assemblies,
which are given from one shepherd.”
To be radical for Christ we must first be riveted to Him – not just riveted on Him.
“He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. Matthew 10:37
“Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel’s,
Notice that in addition to the good things, persecutions are promised in this life to those who are true disciples. We will consider suffering and persecution in the Christian life in the next chapter.
When Jesus said,“If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me” (Lk. 9:23), He was using His conditional statement that begins with the word “if” – relating a difference in the ordinary and the profound – in the common and uncommon.
Even as in John 8:31-32, He was presenting the difference of a mere existence and the radical life seen in Him and His disciples. In my early Christian life, I used to pray that the Lord would “love me to death” so that He might “love me to life.” He has been doing this for over twenty years – drawing me closer and closer to Him.
“A follower of Christ is radically oriented to a different world.”
Dr. Charley Chase wrote these words knowing the content of John 6, one of the three longest chapters in the New Testament. Reading, studying, meditation and memorization of the undiluted truth of Jesus’ teachings will either turn us away or draw us to Him forever. Those who stay riveted to Him – not just to His teaching – will be new creatures, radically following and living the true life of a Christian, not for this world, but for the next (Galatians 6:14-15).
During the three years of His earthly ministry, many followed Him for the food and the healing. But they could not stomach His preaching and teaching and were no longer interested in Him.
When these left, Jesus asked the twelve. “Do you also want to go away?
“But Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. Also, we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” John 6:67-69
Eleven of the twelve remained and after His resurrection and ascension, continued His teachings and preaching of the gospel that we have today. We still have it, and like those few, we are few today who believe by the power of His Spirit and are riveted to Him, living a radical life in the face of adversity. Those who follow Christ live in light of the eternal life promised to those who are truly His disciples.
The religious leaders spoke of the apostles as ”These that have turned the world upside down” (Acts 17:6).
How did they do this? It was not of their own knowledge, authority or power.
“The Lord has appeared of old to me, saying: “Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; Therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you. Jeremiah 31:3
“No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day.” John 6:44
“And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself.” John 12:32
“Assemble yourselves and come; Draw near together, You who have escaped from the nations. They have no knowledge, Who carry the wood of their carved image, And pray to a god that cannot save.” Isaiah 45:20
The words of the wise are as goads, and as nails fastened by the masters of assemblies, which are given from one shepherd.Jesus sent Paul in ministry to the Gentiles “To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.” Acts 26:18
The same light given to Paul accompanied him wherever he went.
Seek, See, and Set Your Mind on Him
“So I have looked for You in the sanctuary, To see Your power and Your glory. Psalm 63:2
“Turn away my eyes from looking at worthless things, And revive me in Your way. Psalm 119:37
“And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.” John 6:40
“If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” Colossians 3:1-3
We swim upstream — meeting and warning those on the path to destruction.
“For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.” Romans 8:5
“And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:13
“To the end he may stablish your hearts
unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father,
at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints.”
1 Thessalonians 3:13
Dear Father in heaven, your greatness is unsearchable. You have made the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ more powerful that we will ever know. By your Spirit you call us, you draw us by your grace, you turn us so that we may look, gaze and wonder at your Son. You have lifted Him through death and resurrection to sit at your right hand, to rule and govern a people for yourself, to call in each generation those who will give all to live for you. As we live in obedience of the living faith you have given us, display in us the same diligence and fervency of our Lord that sets us apart from this world that it may be turned upside down. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.