Unity in Christ Alone

Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity! – Psalm 133:1

All throughout the New Testament we read about unity in the Body of Christ. In the fourth chapter of Ephesians, Paul urges us to walk with humility and gentleness. He tells us to bear with one another and to be eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. David in Psalm 133 tells about how great it is when brothers and sisters dwell in unity. We are called to be one body, one corporate man with Christ as the head. But how can we do this? How can the Body of Christ dwell in unity when we have so many differences?

You and I probably have different tastes in music, sports and even food. We like to spend our time doing different activities and we may even disagree theologically and doctrinally. How can we possibly dwell in unity when our personalities are so different? By setting all those things aside. We cannot do it in our own power. Apart from Christ we can do nothing, even dwell in unity. What do we have to do then to dwell in unity and be a true body? We must make Christ the center and main object of our thought and lives. This means to set aside our interests for our own personal lives. We’re no longer just individuals, we’re one body that stems from one head, that is, Jesus Christ.

If Christ is my all and Christ is your all then do we not have everything in common? True unity in the Body lies in Christ alone, not agreeing on some doctrine or tradition and not being a part of the same movement.


A Pearl And A Treasure

The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. – Matthew 13:44

Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it. – Matthew 13:35-36

In this conversation that Jesus is having with His disciples, He is explaining what the Kingdom of Heaven is like. In other areas of the Bible, The Kingdom of Heaven is referred to as the Kingdom of God. Both of these phrases refer to the reign of God. I was reading these verses, trying to find some understanding to them the other day. After some discussion, prayer, re-reading and looking at another blog post, which unfortunately I can’t remember the source right now, my eyes were opened to something I had never seen here before

These two men went off and sold everything they had for these treasures and, which means that they were refocusing their lives around something new. Both recognized the great worth in these treasures. These items were worth more to them than everything else they owned. They were worth more than everything in this world that defined them. It doesn’t even seem like they hesitated or weighed the options in making this decision. The answer was simply too obvious.

The Kingdom of Heaven, the ultimate reign and supremacy of God, is greater than everything else that exists in our lives. What these parables tell us is that the reign of God, the eternal purpose that’s in Christ, is something that is worth centering our entire lives around. It’s worth forsaking everything we know, own and do. I don’t believe we necessarily have to sell everything we own to recognize and experience the life of Christ, although I do believe there are times and situations where God has His people do this. What I’m saying is that the Kingdom of God is greater than my little kingdom that I’m building with my job, home, talents, etc. Jesus Christ cannot be just some part of our lives. He IS our life. The Kingdom of God is not just some far off reality that we’ll experience when we die and go to Heaven. The reign of God is among us and it’s something that we not only experience for ourselves here and now, but we are also agents of the Kingdom, bringing it to others as Christ is living in and through us.

We need to recenter our lives around Christ everyday. Regardless of our daily to-dos, He must be the center, focus and source of all life. Though this may be a challenge sometimes, it’s not impossible. So let’s sell all we have in order to purchase something of greater worth. Let’s forsake our lives in order to know a greater life. That greater life is Christ. He is the way, the truth and the life. The reign of God is worth more than we can give up. It’s all or nothing.

Your Word Is A Lamp

Good morning blog readers. It’s been a long time since I’ve posted anything on here, which unfortunately happens pretty often. But this morning I wanted to put a little something out so that you guys know what’s up. My wife and I have been crazy busy the past couple of weeks. We’ve been getting ready to move and with so much other stuff going on I just haven’t had the time to blog as I’d like. Sorry about that, although I know that there are a ton of great bloggers out there that can write much better than me 🙂

I will say this: I hope that you are all growing in the Lord and seeing Christ as the true center in all of life. Yesterday I was meditating on Psalm 119:105 where David writes “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” After a while of thinking about how important the Word is for us to go on, I was brought to considering how important Christ Himself is in order for us to go on. This of course brought me to the beginning of John where it’s stated that “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.” The Word that John is referring to, of course, is Jesus Christ.

After tweeting this verse, I received this reply from a brother in Christ whom I always find encouraging online:

This confirms, yet again, Christ’s centrality and supremacy. He not only leads us, but He also dwells inside of us and allows us to live from His very life. He lights our path and directs our ways. The Holy Spirit nudges us when we seem to have lost our way or have become blind in some area. Christ not only reveals truth, He is the Truth. He shows us the way by showing us Himself. Jesus Christ Himself is the way.

This was really encouraging to me yesterday in the midst of some of the positive chaos going on with our move and I hope that it can do the same for you. Jesus Christ and His riches are truly vast and extensive.

In Exile by Thrice

I don’t usually post videos and songs on here, but this is a favorite of mine. In my opinion, Thrice is one of the best bands around right now and they have been for years. This song perfectly describes our awkward place in this world, how we’re longing for our true home and wandering this earth for just a while, without getting too comfortable, until we’re with Christ in eternity. Check out the video and the lyrics below and I also encourage check out some more of Thrice’s stuff if you never have.

I am an exile – a sojourner; A citizen of some other place.
All I’ve seen is just a glimmer in a shadowy mirror,
But I know one day I’ll see face to face.

I am a nomad – a wanderer; I have nowhere to lay my head down.
There’s no point in putting roots too deep when I’m moving on.
I’m not settling for this unsettling town.

My heart is filled with songs of forever –
Of a city that endures, where all is made new.
I know I don’t belong here; I’ll never
Call this place my home, I’m just passing through.

I am a pilgrim – a voyager; I won’t rest until my lips touch the shore –
Of the land that I’ve been longing for as long as I’ve lived,
Where there’ll be no pain or tears anymore.

Are We Too Connected?

We live in digital and technology-driven age. This is obvious considering that rather than reading this as a printed article or pamphlet, you’re currently reading this post on a computer, smart phone, tablet or maybe even your TV. Technology is everywhere and some even say that technology is actually making us dumber and that human evolution is reversing. I’d like to share a few of my thoughts on our technology-driven lives and why it’s important to intentionally unplug.

I would like to say that I’m very grateful for technology. I love it. I love my iPhone, my iPad and my Mac that sits in my office at work. As a web designer, I wouldn’t even have a job if it wasn’t for technology. Computers, phones, apps and social media are all very useful in our lives. However, there is one question that we need to ask ourselves…

Are we too connected?

We have the ability to be in constant conversation with people all around the world and right down the street through texting, Twitter, Facebook and the other countless social networking outlets. It really is great. We can have our questions answered at any given time and we can also encourage one another instantly with a thought or verse. The trouble though is that we can also neglect the face to face fellowship we’re having with one another by interrupting a conversation to reply to a Tweet. This is where our connectedness can affect and even harm true human interaction. We can be with people in person but yet be miles away as we sit in silence fumbling through our phones. We should make it a point to ignore our phones, tablets and computers so that we can have true interaction with our brothers and sisters. To put it bluntly, we’ve become enslaved by our phones and computers.

Our face to face fellowship with people isn’t the only area of our lives that can suffer. As a follower of Christ, it’s in our new nature to desire Jesus. Because of Christ in us we pray and spend time intentionally seeking God one on one and apart from distractions. I don’t know if we’re simply afraid to be alone or what exactly the problem is, but we’ve lost the art of being alone. Being by ourselves with the Lord is something that Jesus spoke of in word and in action. He would frequently leave His disciples and crowds to go off by Himself and pray. Jesus even said that when we pray we should get alone in a closet. It’s clear that being alone with God is important. This is a practice that we have to retrieve if we hope to be able to encourage and build up each other and if we hope to simply know Christ deeper. For this, we have to learn to how to unplug.

The point is this: Being connected to loved ones is great. There’s a handful of people who I consider real brothers in Christ that I have only conversed with through this blog and on Twitter. I appreciate it all and thoroughly believe that God uses technology. We have to be careful, though, so that we don’t get distracted from God and authentic fellowship with our brothers and sisters.

This is something that I’ve dealt with and am still dealing with now. I’m a Twitter addict. I don’t care about Facebook as much but I’ve spent lots of time Tweeting and scrolling through my feed on my phone. We need to learn that it’s ok to have unread emails, messages and tweets. We need to begin intentionally unplugging and recover the lost art of being alone with God and being with people.

Agree? Disagree? What are your thoughts?

Exhorting One Another and Why It Matters

Sometimes, actually, a lot of times, I really suck. You may be thinking, “Sure, we all suck in ourselves.” This is true, but even though we’re in Christ we’re faced with a challenge to actually walk in Him, which is only done by His grace, rather than to rely on the natural man that is in reality, dead. Seclusion from the body of Christ is something that’s really harmful for a believer. Whether we’re deceived into thinking we can serve and seek God all on our own or we get too distracted and simply don’t have time to fellowship with each other, it’s not good. I’ve said this in other posts before, the Christian life is a corporate life, one lived in community centered around Jesus Christ. In this community we’re all equal. Regardless of race, gender, culture, interests, social status, we’re equal and one. In the community of God there is no hierarchy and we have Christ as the head. We’re all priests and we therefore all have a responsibility to share Christ and His riches with each other. Check out what the writer of Hebrews says:

Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end. – Hebrews 3:12-14

This excerpt goes right along with the many “one anothers” found in the New Testament. Reading this, it seems that if we aren’t exhorting each other all the time, everyday even, then we run a greater risk of falling away God altogether. We may not come out and publicly say we no longer care about God, but perhaps we’ll become deceived into thinking we’re living ok when in reality we aren’t walking in Christ. We can become deceived because there is no accountability and no encouragement. I know from experience that it’s far too easy to get caught up simply living our lives and in turn just keep God in the back our minds when He Himself should be living this life through us to His glory. We need to constantly be challenged, encouraged and pushed toward Christ by our brothers and sisters.

This whole corporate life thing has to be intentional. It takes sacrificing our schedules, interests and hobbies as a result of loving Jesus and His body more than ourselves. The Spirit of God will bring us to this place, He will accomplish it. But we have to let Him do it and stop ignoring the truth. Let it all be done by Him and to His glory.

Knowing Jesus in a Facebook World

The idea for this post sprang from a conversation I had with a good friend of mine this past week. This friend of mine has recently been preparing a lesson to teach to a group of middle school aged kids at the church he’s a part of. The topic for his lesson was intimacy with God. Now, intimacy with God is a topic that can be discussed from now until the end of the world. Our chief pursuit in this life is to learn Christ and explore His riches, thus becoming more intimate with Him. We will also never completely know all the riches of Christ while on this earth. His riches are simply far too deep and wide.

The dilemma, then, was determining how you go about explaining true intimacy with God in about 45 minutes to a group of middle schoolers. The best approach that came to mind was to use parables that are culturally relevant to them, just like Jesus did in the New Testament.

The thought came to mind that your relationship with Jesus can be compared to your relationship with your Facebook friends. Everyone on Facebook has either a few, or a ton, of friends whose relationship doesn’t go any deeper than their Facebook posts and photo albums. Facebook is great and all, but you can easily lose true intimacy with someone due to the “convenience” of the social media giant.

Facebook allows you to know a lot about people without actually knowing them.

How much do we, professed Christians, know about Jesus without actually knowing Him? I want to be very careful in saying my next statement and would like to preface it by saying that the Bible is in fact infallible and inspired by the Holy Spirit. That being said, I would like to compare the Bible to Facebook for a moment.

With the Bible, we can read, study and memorize things about God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, the Church and God’s eternal purpose. This is all very important and I am very grateful to have these writings that have been preserved for so long. However, it’s very easy to know the Bible in a strictly informational and scholarly way. Simply put: we can know the Bible and know things about Jesus without actually having them revealed by the Holy Spirit. We cannot know them fully though, apart from Christ or revelation by the Holy Spirit. Similarly, we can know things about people thanks to their Facebook page. We can know where they work, who their favorite sports team is and even whether they had a good or bad day. But do we really know that person? No. Not if Facebook is as deep as our relationship goes with them. You haven’t spent quality time with that person. You don’t know how they handle difficult situations and you don’t really know their dreams and aspirations. The things we know are great but they are taken out of context and ultimately they don’t really matter apart from the individuals themselves.

What we’re left with then, from the Bible alone and Facebook alone, is a collection of random facts and ideas that we can’t really do anything with. We’re not walking in the truths found in the Bible because they haven’t been revealed in us by the Holy Spirit through quality time with the Lord. There hasn’t been any light shed on these teachings. We take what we hear or read in our “quiet time” and then go on about our lives. Sure, we may be able to hold an excellent discussion in our small group, Bible study or church meeting, but our life doesn’t reflect these things. They are merely memorized facts and writings.

John answered, A person cannot receive even one thing unless it is given him from heaven. – John 3:27

For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. – 1 Corinthians 2:11

Too often we know things about Jesus without actually knowing Him. We continue to eat from the wrong tree and attempt to know Christ through our own efforts and study. Studying is good and even necessary, yes. But if we don’t take what we’ve read or “learned” to God and ask for revelation and true understanding, then we’re not growing any closer to Him. I don’t care how smart and studious you are. You cannot know Christ by your own flawed effort. You will be left with information, not a relationship and understanding. This has been true in my life far too often. I’ve known what it’s like to know things about Jesus and then be left feeling far from Him, as if He’s still a stranger.

What are your thoughts on the subject? Please let me know in the comment section below.