Pressing On. Toward Resurrection. (Part 1)

         There is a spiritual reality among Christians not often talked about or understood that is just as vital and all-important as any other.

         It is not popular.

         As in the case of physical persecution, this reality is often placed on a very high shelf, kept in a rarely used cabinet, or even locked away out of sight.

         Christians would rather not acknowledge its existence. And since most Christians have never seen much of a need for it and have gotten by without it, they would much rather keep it as far away from themselves as possible.

         The majority of those who refer to themselves as Christians are not even aware of it. Those that are aware often treat it is a non-entity or something to be shunned, and feel very uncomfortable whenever it may come up in a conversation or teaching session.

         Of course, there are many realities regarding real Christianity that nominal “believers” want no part of, and will argue against their necessity no matter how many Scriptures reveal their presence, point directly to them, and speak of their absolute need toward a successful and fruitful walk with the Lord.

         For example, fasting is no fun, but it works. Nothing can replace it. The Lord taught it, practiced it, and proved its effectiveness. But most Christians never fast. And most Christians will fight anyone who says they have to.

         I used to be part of a large congregation that taught and practiced fasting and prayer to a relatively high degree. We had to fast at least one day a week. We went on two-day fasts every quarter or so. Everyone was expected to participate and most did. We were taught to pray at least an hour every day. We had corporate prayer meetings that all were expected to attend. It was part of the culture. If you didn’t participate you were not doing your duty as a believer and member. We had all night prayer meetings. The church building and grounds were a center of spiritual activity and there was always something going on almost every day of the week. It was a hang out. A great place. Most members accepted and adopted this kind of prayer and fasting with no reservations, because: (1) It was clearly Scriptural, (2) It was very effective, (3) It was part of the culture, and (4) It was taught and mandated by the pastor.

         After a while, though, it became apparent that fewer members were complying. Some stopped because they had never disciplined themselves for such or made it part of their lives and spiritual lifestyles for the long haul. They were doing it because the group did it and they feared the pastor or being a deviant from the norm.

         It is the same reason so many people go to church or honor their leadership, denomination, or denominational beliefs and dictates. They are not so much into it as much as they are being put upon to do it. It is not really in their hearts to serve God necessarily, but more of a cultural thing. They feel good going to church. It gives them a lift of some kind. Their life throughout the rest of the week does not really reflect anything spiritual, however. They are certainly not fulltime, dedicated followers of the Lord, but feel they are doing enough to get by and that is all they really want.

         Once any form of persecution comes they quit. They get very angry when convicted. They don’t like it when their casual “walk” is exposed or their Biblical ignorance is revealed. When this happens, though, such people should be thankful for the apparent warnings. Because if real persecution ever broke out they would get destroyed.

         I like sports. I’ve played a lot of different sports. I know what it’s like to play alright and am also fully aware of the embarrassment of playing lousy. Sports will humble a person, regardless of how good one may be. You have good games and not so good games.

         The major leagues in any sport contain the cream of the crop, the best of the best, and virtual all-star teams of the greatest talent in the world. Yet there are times when these great talents look like idiots on the field or court and one wonders how they can be so boneheaded. The reality is that the action is so fast and the players so good and so much is at stake that the player who fails to bring his “A” game can look like an idiot pretty quick. A man should never step out on a football field during live action, for example, without being 100% focused and ready or he will get creamed and end up looking like a fool. It is hard enough as it is for the fully dedicated. Get just the least bit lax and someone out there will very quickly reveal your weakness and send you into next week.

         It always amazes me that out of millions of baseball players in this country, many of them very talented and dedicated, less than 800 are on a major league team at any given time. Some very, very good players have never made it to the show. How is this possible? How can someone so good be not good enough? Because there are others who are even better.

         It is said the hardest thing to do in all of sports is consistently and successfully hit a baseball. Most people can’t even see a baseball going 95 miles an hour from only 60 and a half feet away. Anyone who has ever stood in a batter’s box to face live pitching at that speed will confirm this. It takes an adjustment. Those that do it all the time do a very amazing thing. If they don’t work very, very hard and stay on their game they’re gone.

         But Christians? Well, most are taught that heaven is automatic. That God requires very little. That you can get away with anything. That such super dedication and discipleship shown by world-class athletes is completely unnecessary and even ridiculous. “No one can live like that!,” the false Christians exclaim.

         Hence, most of these so-called “Christians” and their dead, dull, boring, wimpy churches have set their own standard, a stupid standard, a rebellious standard, a very weak standard, and a standard in which sin and spiritual laziness is quite welcome. There is no salt in these places and very little light. They are composed of all those who would never make the cut on a good team or probably any team. They are no different than anyone else in any particular society and are a mere reflection of the world and not the kingdom of God. The devil is not the least bit afraid or respectful of them. And while they may look good now, there’s a hot place waiting.

         Meanwhile, real followers of the Lord the world over, in places like China and many Muslim countries, are currently lining up as those characterized in the following:

         Women received back their dead by resurrection; and others were tortured, not accepting their release, so that they might obtain a better resurrection; and others experienced mockings and scourgings, yes, also chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were tempted, they were put to death with the sword; they went about in sheepskins, in goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated (men of whom the world was not worthy), wandering in deserts and mountains and caves and holes in the ground. [Hebrews 11:35-38] [1]

         © 2013 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved. (Part 1 of 3)


[1] Unless otherwise noted all Scriptures are taken from the New American Standard Bible, © 1960, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

Posted on March 30, 2013, in Real Christianity and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. As we say here in Texas, “Y’all got that right!” He is risen!

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  2. AMEN! A most excellent post RJ! THANK YOU! I so needed this today! It has also inspired me to continue with a recent post… “Three crosses, three churches, and One Savior.” God Bless you!!!

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  3. Compelling words, RJ. I heard the question asked just last night, “Are all Christians supposed to be sold out, on fire, and living daily in the race and battle before us?” What’s sad is that the response should be a resounding “yes,” but too often that lifestyle is explained away as too radical. How can we be too radical for a Savior and Lord who gave everything to purchase us for Himself? It really is an oxymoron to use the words no and Lord in the same sentence, but it seems we’ve mastered it. Blessings, good friend.

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    • Thanks for your comment, Mike. I am reminded of three passages of Scripture:

      “If you have run with footmen and they have tired you out, then how can you compete with horses? If you fall down in a land of peace, how will you do in the thicket of the Jordan?” [Jeremiah 12:5]

      “You were running well; who hindered you from obeying the truth? This persuasion did not come from Him who calls you. A little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough. I have confidence in you in the Lord that you will adopt no other view; but the one who is disturbing you will bear his judgment, whoever he is.” [Galatians 5:7-10]

      “Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air.” [1 Corinthians 9:24-26]

      These passages do not reflect the musings of a half-hearted, “que sera sera,” laid back, “relax and take it easy,” “it’s all good!” persona, but one who gets it, who understands that it’s all or nothing, and that one better get their heart in gear and keep it there. False doctrines have been leavened into the mix, reflective of the Galatians 5 passage above, that purport to tell us our standing with God has nothing to do with running any race or giving it our all.

      Reminds me of five year old kids in neighborhood soccer leagues in which there is no score, no winning, no losing, and each kid gets a trophy regardless of effort or skill.

      “But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.” [1 Corinthians 9:27 KJV]

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  4. Thank you for your timely and courageous word… In loving our neighbor as ourselves we love the tangible face of God… For all of this we will each give an account “with Whom we have to do…”

    Thank you for taking the time to spur us on to love and good works. Blessings in anticipation of His soon Glorious Appearing…

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