Friday, August 13, 2010

Complete in Him

Colossians 2:10. "You are complete in Him."

Paul declares that one who, as a Christian, is in Christ is also COMPLETE in him.  In the context of Colossians Paul was telling those believers that they did not need to seek a deeper experience of God or a greater separation from the world by abstaining from certain foods, by outward religious observances,  or by self-discipline or self-abasement to some intermediary.  No. Everything they sought was found in Christ.

That seems simple enough.  But wait.  Why do we run after the latest spiritual experience?  Why do we look to the means of "techniques" and 12 step recovery and support programs to overcome our sin and additions?  Is Jesus not enough?

I know that sounds almost like heresy in our self-absorbed, self-help age. Research and experience have proved they work, haven't they?

Or have they?

"Religious experiences", self-discipline and techniques do have, as Paul says, "an appearance of wisdom." They sound good. There is some apparent benefit. You might actually have a spiritual experience - like some whirling dervishes. Maybe having someone help you speak in tongues by moving your jaw while you make sounds does result in the ability to make unintelligible sounds on your own. Maybe self-discipline does help you achieve some measure of control over your addictions.  But there is a disconnect with God, no real power.

These things so popular today among Christians are really a denial of our completeness in Christ. If  you desire a deeper experience of God, seek it in Christ. Get to know him better and better.

If you desire greater separation from sin, rest in faith upon your position as dead in Christ to sin and simply say no. Yes. That is possible.  Remember you are truly dead. Simply "put off," those things that belong to the old life.

If you desire greater holiness, rest again upon your position in Christ as alive with new life, and "put on" the virtues of mercy, kindness, humility, meekness and patience. Yes. That is possible. You do not need to train yourself to it. They belong to you in Christ. Put them on by faith.

Don't be distracted by the promises of deeper experiences and greater holiness found any place else but in a simple life of faith in Christ and who we now are in Him.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Bullets and Blood

If you are unclear about the difference between Jesus and Mohammed there is no starker picture than the massacre that played out in the Kuran Ma Munjan valley of Afghanistan last week. Ten unarmed medical aid workers on their way back from a humanitarian mission to remote villages in the Puran valley north of Kabul were stopped by Taliban murderers and summarily executed beside their vehicles. So much for the "peaceful religion" image Muslims have been trying to sell to the world since 911.

Tom Little was among the ten who died. He had spent thirty years of his life in Afghanistan providing medical aid. He was living out his convictions as a follower of Jesus. The Taliban killed him because of his faith. It is that simple.

Let's see. How often have Muslims in the United States, and there are many, been executed on the street by Christians (distinguish, please, between Americans and Christians) because they were Muslim?

Or compare the cultures that have arisen from the two religions. In America thousands of Muslims gather in their mosques each week. How many Christians worship openly and freely in Afghanistan?

Muslims are free to proselytize on the streets of any of our cities. They have that right by law. How about Christians in Afghanistan?

But these are contrasts carefully selected to show Islam in a bad light; there have been atrocities committed by Christians as well, some might say. So go to the holy books. Mohammed promoted his religion by the sword; Jesus told Peter to put up his sword. And Jesus paid for his choice of the path of peace with his own blood.

And there you are: bullets and blood. Muslims from the beginning have conquered by sword and gun. (No wonder that they find themselves pariahs in the world today.) Christians have won the hearts of people by their willingness to give themselves as Dr. Little did in Afghanistan even to the point of shedding his own blood.

The difference is clear.