Rachel Held Evans

What’s a Christ Follower to Be in a Culture of Boxes and Labels

1 Timothy 1:15

Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners–of whom I am the worst.

This was written by the Apostle Paul to Timothy, his true son in the faith.

The book of First Timothy was written to give Timothy instructions to lead the believers in Ephesus. This was not an easy task in that it included dealing with false doctrine, disorder in worship, the need for leaders, and materialism.

Timothy was in the midst of a complicated culture as are we.

TODAY, there are talking heads in abundance, opinions galore, experts in extreme, and labels for everything and… yes everyone.

In this environment our main goal is to keep our eyes on Jesus and the simplicity of the Gospel because that is where we walk in the power of the Holy Spirit leaving behind wrong thoughts about who we are and are not.

Let’s look at our culture together and see how this Scripture applies to us so beautifully.

CULTURE’S LABELS: Alcoholic, Bulimic, Kleptomaniac, Homosexual, Heterosexual, Bisexual, Transgender, Pyromaniac, Manic depressive, ADHD, Left-winger, Right-Winger, not to mention denominational and religious labels… and how about emo, gangsta, prep, stoner, rocker, nerd, preppy? As you noticed, I listed a wide variety- from clinical to slang.

Labels in and of themselves are not bad usually. They can help people take responsibility like saying, “I am an alcoholic”, which is a huge step for a person, who has perfected the art of blaming. Responsibility is a big step in the right direction. Labels help doctors identify and treat issues like postpartum depression. And if a girl wants to hang out with a stoner, well, Dad and Mom will have the necessary information to protect their daughter. So, labels can be helpful.

So, what happens when sinful man gets a hold of labels? Well it can become confusing quickly, especially when it’s personal. Here are some examples where labels can be misused: An alcoholic guilts his friends and family to enable his destructive habit of drunkenness. Someone diagnosed with bipolar can use this to minimize and justify their inappropriate behavior. A left-winger can refuse to listen to anything a right-winger says and vice versa. Here is another: I read a blog post some time ago by a woman, who was named one of the top 50 most influential women in Christendom today by Christianity Today. She was responding to the Southern Baptist Convention’s passing of a resolution to condemn the leadership of the Boy Scouts for accepting openly gay boys in the organization. Now, she gives some great points in her blog especially challenging some of the church’s obvious hypocrisy in dealing with sexual issues, but nonetheless she buys culture’s use of labels hook, line, and sinker. She continually uses the word, “gay” as a label. Reader, it is the enemy who whispers lies to young boys saying, “You are gay” and in her blog she affirms that lie. She even suggests the Christian Gay Network as help for in her words “gay Christians”.  We MUST take labels through the lens of Scripture, not discounting our struggles or others, but never making those struggles “special” or putting them in little boxes that say “Do not Touch”… Let’s be honest. We forbid no one but Christ. Did you get that?  When we coddle our labels, we choose them over Christ refusing Him and His healing of our deepest wounds.  And we will ALL stand before Him one day and give account. It is Satan that tells us our sin is special, our identity. Our sin is only our identity if we are unsaved, unrepentant; then still Christ calls us to more: to Himself and a new identity in Him.

Look at what Paul says: Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners–of whom I am the worst.

PAUL”S LABEL: Paul gives himself the label- “worst of sinners’. Now let’s consider why. Look at the verse and consider where the period is placed. I believe that Paul is saying here that the worthy saying starts with the first word after the colon and ends with the period. I don’t believe Paul was giving only himself this special title. I believe he was also giving it as a gift to first Timothy and then to the body from the Lord.

Consider Paul saying, “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners- of whom I am the worst”.

Timothy saying,”Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners- of whom I am the worst”.

You and I saying, “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners- of whom I am the worst”.

Now imagine Christ asking, “Who will be the worst of sinners in this generation?” And Paul standing and raising his hand volunteering and through the corridors of time men, women, boys, and girls, have read those words and said, Yes! Lord, me! I get it. It is a call. A position- to both serve and receive more and more of Christ and His love, His goodness, His purity, long suffering, power, wisdom, joy, peace, and self control. It is all about Jesus and making much of Him!

Let that soak in.

And consider further with me evidence of this. In Bible times, the goal of discipleship was not merely educational learning but personal transformation. “A disciple did not grasp the full significance of his teacher’s learning in all it’s nuances except through prolonged intimacy with his teacher,” states Jewish historian, Shmuel Safrai. “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ,” Paul states in 1 Corinthians 11:1. This was Paul’s goal with Timothy. Do as I do, Say as I say, as I am following Christ follow me. And isn’t it true, we begin to talk and act like those we spend the most time with.. Paul indeed wanted Timothy to take the entire saying as his very own, so He could serve with this attitude, “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me”. Philippians 3:12 And this: “What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ.” Philippians 3:8 If you are a parent, you can see this clearly, children are watching you and your words mean little to nothing if they aren’t backed with action. Paul wanted his way of life to be caught, not merely taught.

May the Lord bless you with casting all labels and boxes of bondage at the foot of Jesus, that every weakness would present to you an opportunity for more of Jesus, who is the head of the church. Bless you with trumping every label with the best one of all- worst of sinners- bought with a worthy price and crowned with the righteousness and purity of Christ. Bless you with allowing the Father to re-parent you, letting every cultural assumption run through His fingers and given to you corrected: new, afresh, in truth and in grace- healing you in your deepest wounds. And bless you, with the awareness and peace that the Holy Spirit intercedes for you in your weakness.

In Christ Alone!

Worst of Sinners, Diana

When Truth Preached From the Pulpit Is Not Enough

This post is difficult.

Because it is about pain- in the church house.

I’m talking to Bible believers here, primarily (but not only) Protestants, because for the most part in the practice of worship meetings hold the time of teaching from the pulpit in the highest regard. This is especially to those, who preach the Word, who have NOT compromised and may find this as a source of pride.

It’s about the next generation of believers. And you, listen. That is, if you are a rescued, redeemed, washed clean, child of the King.

Look at this. And look closely.

Read it. Weep. Pray.

I copied this from Rachel Held Evans blog- named one of the 50 most influential women in Christendom of our day. Her post was called Sunday Superlatives where she picked some different quotes, books, etc… that she considers “super”.

Kathryn Joyce with “By Grace Alone”

“For years, Protestants have assumed they were immune to the abuses perpetrated by celibate Catholic priests. But Tchividjian* believes that Protestant churches, groups, and schools have been worse than Catholics in their response. Mission fields, he says, are “magnets” for would-be molesters; ministries and schools do not understand the dynamics of abuse; and “good ol’ boy” networks routinely cover up victims’ stories to protect their reputations. He fears it is only a matter of time before it all blows up in their faces and threatens the survival of powerful Protestant institutions.” 

*Basyle J. Tchividjian is the grandson of Billy Graham, a former district attorney in Florida prosecuting child sex-abuse cases. He is now a law professor at Liberty University and in private practice. He is the founder of GRACE (Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment). Kathryn’s article is worth the read.

Do you understand that THIS is true?  THIS is real stuff. THIS is not made up.  THIS is spoken by a man, who knows from experience. Do you understand good ole boy networks exist IN the church house? And this little woman is about to tell you a thing or two.

 Rachel Held Evans- named one of the 50 most influential women in Christendom today (where I copied the above quote)- She gets so much right. She will say what others won’t because most blindly follow leaders simply because they are in a position- Because she will post THIS on her blog. THIS TRUE information about children molested in Protestant churches and ministries and Protestant leaders covering it up. But do you know this: if your kid told her he or she was gay she would affirm them in that. Huh? Yes, huh? Is purity purity or is it not? Go, read her blog. She is pro-gay and much more. She and her following helped influence World Vision’s decision to allow people in same-sex marriages to volunteer and work in their ministry. (They later back peddled on this decision). Rachel blamed “intense financial pressure from evangelicals” for the reversal of that decision.

She is probably right.

When ministries are built on the personality of anyone other than Jesus-

Where men or women stand behind pulpits-

And use them as protection-

And build the numbers-

And fill the money bins,

But sweep difficult situations that threaten the building of their own kingdoms under the rug,

As if God had no power- or even worse… as if He and His people don’t matter,

THIS IS WHAT YOU GET:

A platform for the lies of the enemy.

You get boys and girls abused, secrets shuffled under rugs, and big boys and girls confused, distraught, and leaving – or sitting and doubting and numbing and never quite free- thinking that worldly position equals godliness.

You get people practicing all forms of ungodliness and pointing fingers- saying “don’t call me impure because you people allow all forms of ungodliness in your midst and then point at gays, and preach on and on about marriage…You don’t even deal with the sin (sexual included) and greed in your midst… How dare you?”  Clever, huh? Sinners and addicts of all kinds look for loopholes- just like Satan to make it confusing. And in the process keep people in bondage, fear, pride, and unbelief.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Prov. 1:7

FEAR. and we are right when we are in awe of Him and we should know that if anything is under the rug- It will be revealed. God doesn’t deal with rugs.  He is in the business of thorough housekeeping, unlike many busy mothers- who strive for some order and clean enough.  He is about spick and span-

White.

Spotless.

Completely Clean.

What we would hide and throw away- what we fear opening-

HE DOESN’T. He will open, uncover,

and cover- powerfully- with His purity.

Read the Gospels.

He didn’t avoid the difficult in a human body walking dusty roads. AND He doesn’t now. He is a mind reader, knows the motives of our hearts– …everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of Him to whom we must give account. Hebrews 4:13

This is why we are to fear Him. He is the real deal. In a world full of fearing all the wrong things- the what- if’s, if -only s, oh -no’s, and dear me s-

He, the Real Deal,  the only proper One to fear.

And this is the only business His children are to be about. No pretending. No lifting the corners of rugs to sweep junk underneath- no trying to patch hard things up with a wave of a Bible verse.

The Word, who became flesh, Jesus, never does that. (Gen.1 and John1)

Big living is meant for you and I- royal living- Jesus living. Cause didn’t He say He gives us His life? Didn’t He say, I am leaving you and sending the power of God to dwell within you? Acts 1:5

Royalty of the heart.

You

and

I

crowned in our hearts with the bold righteousness of Jesus.

NOTHING can take us out of His hand.

Where the arrows fly, but the authority of the crown guards our hearts.

And we turn, reach, grab a hand and point- to Him and Him alone.

The FEAR of the LORD

Hand in hand with Bible teaching, we are in desperate need for the Word to work in the most difficult of situations. We need the Remnant to rise up, and to keep rising up after long times of bending low and listening to the King- letting Him deal with us and be our everything- to rise among the weeds
and be recognizably wheat. (Matthew 13:30)

This is meant to encourage you, Royal Priesthood, to challenge you, to help you pray.

To pray for our leaders. And to be the leader you were meant to be- a Priest or Priestess of the King. A Prince or Princess of the Mighty One of Israel.

We must stop pointing the fingers at others and let the Word point at us-

Believers who are-

    The Remnant of Our Generation, The True Believers, The Faithful Witnesses.

And those who are washed clean have an enemy who wants to steal our seed meant to help others throw off those grave clothes and walk in Christ. Do you get that? YOU- have special seed- assigned just for you!

And listen-

 When the the gospel is preached and then tossed in the garbage when a difficult situation arises that threatens the institution- the agenda of man, this is YOUR business. You are NOT a sweeper under the rug spiritual housekeeper. Nor do you allow others to be- because you love,  because we, you and I, have been washed and loved- because we know His power is big enough to handle ANYTHING.  The Gospel is sacred and holy and we must confess it and breathe it, and battle rightly, willing to let others be offended by it no matter what worldly position they might hold.

Believers. The Royal Priesthood.

I submit to you- ask Jesus how to pray for His body, your local body, your leaders, to ask Him to show you how to battle and to repent and get up under His mighty hand and stay there, letting Him lift you up in due time- relying on His power and authority alone.

The Lord bless you with rejecting a form of godliness that denies it’s power. May you not be one who sweeps dirt under the rug because you fear something more than you fear Him. May you be blessed with leaders who battle with you, worshiping in Spirit and in Truth. May you not faint, nor grow weary in doing good because you drink often and deep from the bottomless well of Jesus, our All.

And pray this for me, too.

For I Long to BE In Him Alone Always,

Princess Diana of the Unending Kingdom

To Be Continued, Dear Reader…