A Colony of Heaven
“This world is not my home, I’m just a’passin’ through.” That is the well-known first verse of the classic American Gospel Hymn of the same name. All of the lyrics speak to weary Christians but I think it’s this one that is most often silently repeated as a means to comfort oneself when the burden of living for God approaches the extremes of mental, physical and spiritual endurance. Before I go much further let me say that today’s episode is for those who have already given their lives to Christ and are feeling the pressure of that decision. Now, I suppose I shouldn’t sound exclusionary. I don’t mean to. As always, anyone and everyone is invited to listen. In fact, let me even encourage non-believers and ESPECIALLY those on the proverbial “fence” to join us because this is one of those lessons that you should listen to before you opt for Christ. I believe in full disclosure. Most others in my business seem to believe in bringing in the saints at all costs…even costs measured in truthfulness and integrity. All is fair, it would seem, in love and altar calls. To me, complete honesty is far more effective in the preservation of the saints. Therefore, I believe in the “no surprises” approach to winning souls. Tell the full truth and let God and the repentant work it out. So, let me issue the following warning: If you’ve not decided for Christ yet but are considering it, today’s lesson may not provide you the motivation to make the final push, but you should still listen.
So, if you’re still interested, let me finish this week’s little podcast “warm-up”. Most of you who have been at this for a while know that being a Christian is not easy. It’s true that no one is being fed to lions anymore (although violent persecution of Christians is once again on the rise around the world). Certainly when compared to the early church, being a Christian today is far less deadly. We may not be suffering much under the physical oppression of the world but we are still subject to its spiritual tyranny.
(Joh 15:19) If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.
Just as a, somewhat related, side note, it appears to me that the church world has been trying to bury that verse for the past 100 years. The church doesn’t seem to want us to be at odds with the world. From all appearances, it looks like the church wants us all to get along with the world. That sounds good and, to be honest, I would like that too but the church is far too willing to sink to the world’s level rather than bring the world up to ours…as Jesus called us to do.
(Mat 28:19) Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
(Mat 28:20) Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you…
You see, the problem is, doing all that teaching and baptizing is a lot of work in a world that doesn’t agree it NEEDS to be taught and baptized. Before long, the world starts to resent the effort. They take it personally (which they should) and after a while, the world looks at those who are trying to do the teaching and baptizing as as a hated enemy. Being a hated enemy is not fun.
In this world, true Christians get pushed to the periphery and treated as outsiders to the point that we eventually feel like foreigners and, to be honest, that’s exactly what we are and if you know your Bible you know that condition will not change until Jesus comes to wrap this whole thing up. The commonly used aphorism of the dedicated, yet suffering saint states, “We’re in the world but not of it.” That simply means that we don’t belong here. We don’t share the world’s culture. We live here, yes. We want to live peaceably here, yes…well, mostly, yes but we must not compromise our new, heavenly culture, in order to achieve that peace.
The very first sermon Jesus ever preached started out with Him saying, “Repent”. Repent means to change your thinking. Jesus calls on us to change from thinking the way the world thinks to the way He thinks. And, I don’t need to tell you this, but it’s hard. You see, part of the reason we want to accommodate the world is because the world is our hometown. We’re all born into it. We were all raised by it. Even when we’ve been a Christian for 50 years we sometimes get “nostalgic”. We’re sometimes tempted to go…back. But whenever we do, we notice how different it is and…we don’t want it to be different. We want to feel comfortable in it again and some of us don’t fight that feeling. Jesus wants us to leave the world behind and, too often, like Lot’s wife, we want to look back and, as it did for her, that’s going to cost us.
So, the sign of a true, committed Christian is that they’ll look nothing like nor act anything like the rest of the world. They’ll live in other ways; love in other ways; say different things; pray different things. It’s really what makes the rest of the world so upset. The committed Christian refuses to play by their rules. Believe me, that takes some getting used to. If you are sincere about following Jesus, be prepared to be lonely BUT you’re not alone. There are, at least, a few of us…not many. There will be some who claim to be one of us but you’ll be able to pick the prayers from the players; the pretenders from the knee-benders; the false professors from the true confessors because they’ll be more like them and less like us.
No matter where you are on the issue I urge you to join us for this week’s podcast. Before you do, can I suggest you search your heart to see if you are truly interested in seeking HIS will for your life and if you discover that what He wants is important, go to Him before you press play and ask Him to open your heart so that you can grasp what He is saying to you through His Word and His Spirit. Prepare your heart and mind for eternal things. Ask God to make the world fade into the background and let the light of His Son shine brightly.