You Christians are so unlike your Christ

You have probably heard of Mahatma Gandhi, he was a great leader of India that led them to independence and inspired movements for non-violence, civil rights, and freedom across the world.[1]

A missionary by the name of Stanley Jones met with Ghandi and asked him: “Mr. Gandhi, though you quote the words of Christ often, why is that you appear to so adamantly reject becoming his follower?”

Gandhi replied: Oh, I don’t reject Christ. I love Christ. It’s just that so many of you Christians are so unlike Christ.[2]

“You Christians are so unlike your Christ.”

Ouch!

Paul says a couple times in First Corinthians to “imitate me as I imitate Christ” (4:16; 11:1). Here in First Corinthians chapter five, the Corinthian church is not imitating either Paul or Christ, but imitating the pagan world, and in this case they are worse than the pagans around them.

1 Corinthians 5:1-2 NAU   It is actually reported that there is immorality among you, and immorality of such a kind as does not exist even among the Gentiles, that someone has his father’s wife. You have become arrogant and have not mourned instead, so that the one who had done this deed would be removed from your midst.

It is reported that a man has his father’s wife. This is wrong according to the Old Testament law and even the Roman law. The church knows about it, somehow Paul heard about it, and chances are that the entire town knows about it. Instead of mourning over this sin, the church became arrogant and acted like it was no big deal. The church allowed this sin to go on, whether by saying nothing or encouraging it. Even those outside of the church do not do this type of thing.

For the health of the church, this person should have been removed from the congregation since he was not willing to turn from his sin, but instead the church allowed it to destroy their testimony and to make God out to be a laughing stock.

Imagine yourself in the city of Corinth at this time in history and you heard about what was going on in this church. Would you be interested in this church or the things of Christ? Those outside of the church were probably saying on the street, “You Christians are so unlike your Christ.”

Fast forward to present time. Hopefully you don’t have your father’s wife, but do you do things that are unlike Christ?  What if we interviewed your neighbors, co-workers, friends at school; would they say, “You Christians are so unlike your Christ”?

Gandhi went on to say, “If Christians would really live according to the teachings of Christ, as found in the Bible, all of India would be Christian today.”[3] It is probably safe to say that if Christians really lived according to the teachings of Christ, most of the world would be Christian.

You and I should be living according to the teachings of Christ. This can be done as we spend time reading God’s Word and talking to the Author of it. Hopefully it will not be said of you and I, “You are so unlike your Christ.”

 

1 John 2:6 NAU.  The one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.

 

By Brian Hill                                  Downpour Fellowship                          www.downpour.me



[2] The Knights Templar & the Protestant Reformation  By James Edward Stroud. Pg 162

[3] Ibid

Be Imitators of Me

Last weekend I read an interesting article about how Christians are being persecuted for their faith around the world. Christians throughout the Middle East and Africa are being beaten, tortured, raped, shot, kidnapped, beheaded, imprisoned, and/or chased from their homeland because of their faith in Jesus Christ.

Here in America, with our religious freedom, it is hard to fathom this type of persecution. Like it or not, in real life around the world, Christians are being abused because of their faith. Some are given a choice to deny their faith and live or to be killed for it. Many bravely refuse to deny their faith and in return they are tortured and/or killed.

I have to say, the article seemed to point the finger at the American church for not stepping up and helping their brothers and sisters in Christ. In the author’s defense, I think she wants the American church to at least be aware of these things. As we become aware, we are at least now more able to pray for our brothers and sisters who are being persecuted around the world.

If you have not noticed, I have been choosing one chapter a week from the book of First Corinthians. Here in chapter four, Paul is showing the Corinthians how an apostle is a servant of Christ, he is a steward of the mysteries of God, and that as this steward he is required to be trustworthy.

1 Corinthians 4:1-2 says  “Let a man regard us in this manner, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God.  In this case, moreover, it is required of stewards that one be found trustworthy.”

One should observe an apostle as he is a servant of Christ; he is a trusted minister of the gospel that accomplishes God’s purposes through basic service. He is a steward of the mysteries of God. A steward is one who is in charge of running a household. The word emphasizes that the one is entrusted with great responsibility and accountability.[1] The mystery of God is content that was not known before but now has been revealed to individuals.

Paul, as an apostle, was a trusted servant for Christ, he even self-titled himself as a bondservant, or slave, of Christ (Rom 1:1; Tit 1:1). He had a great responsibility to reveal the mystery of the Gospel of Christ to the Gentiles. As a steward, he was found to be trustworthy.  He was dependable, reliable, and constant.

1 Corinthians 4:16 saysTherefore I exhort you, be imitators of me.”

I hate to say it, but I am sure the day is coming when Christians in America might start to see the persecution like other countries has experienced recently. Hopefully, through good times and bad, we will be able to be imitators of the Apostles and saints that have gone before us and be found as a trusted servant and steward who is found to be trustworthy with the Gospel of Christ.

[1] Rogers, Cleon L. Jr., and Cleon L. Rogers III. The New Linguistic and Exegetical Key to the Greek New Testament.  Grand Rapids : Zondervan , 1998.

By Brian Hill                                   Downpour Fellowship                         www.downpour.me

 

 

 

 



 

 

Milk of the Word

All of us have seen a baby that was “starving”. He is screaming bloody murder and the mother cannot get the bottle ready quick enough. When the baby finally gets the bottle, he gulps and gasps for air as he tries to drink in the milk as fast as he can. The milk is all that the baby cares about; that baby longs for its milk.

 

Peter says in 1 Peter 2:2 like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation…”

 

Peter is saying to long for the pure milk of God’s Word. When you long for something you deeply desire it with the implication of recognizing lack. You understand your need for the truth from God’s word. It’s not a need for someone’s opinion or commentary, but it’s a need for the pure unadulterated or unaltered words of the Bible. You desire it; you need it.

 

A three-month-old baby is cute when he needs to be bottle fed milk. At age three, they are still drinking milk, but they need to consume solid foods if they wish to grow strong.

 

Hopefully you long for God’s Word like a little baby wanting its bottle of milk. It is great when you become a spiritual babe in Christ — but you shouldn’t stay a baby.  You need to mature in your faith. Sadly, in our churches there are people who have been Christians for 30, 40, and 50 years, but are still spiritual babies. It is time that you wean yourself off milk, and to start consuming solid foods.

 

Hebrews 5:12-14 says,For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant. But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil.”

 

In First Corinthians chapter three, Paul first gave them the milk of the word and planted this church. He left them in hope that they would mature in their faith, but came back to find that they are still infants in Christ. They were men of the flesh and not spiritually mature. They were fighting amongst themselves and began to pick sides instead of coming together in unity.

 

1 Corinthians 3:9 says, “For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building.”

 

Those who have accepted Christ as their Savior are God’s building. It is the people, not an actual building that is the church. The church is composed of those that are God’s fellow workers, who should be working together towards the same goal: God’s glory. There is no need to be in disunity like the Corinthian church was. No need for it!

 

We are in God’s field — this is a contrast to a regular pasture land. This is a cultivated field that is restricted to tilled fields or orchards and is expecting fruit and growth.

 

God wants to bring fruit and growth in the lives of His people. Spiritual babies will have some growth with milk, but real maturity only begins as one starts consuming solid foods. This is only done as we long to spend time in God’s Word and let God Himself teach us.

 

By Brian Hill                                   Downpour Fellowship                         www.downpour.me

 

Man’s wisdom is good, but God’s wisdom is so much more superior

Many years ago when I was in Bible College, I was given an opportunity to preach on a Sunday evening at my church. At that particular time I was finishing up a huge Greek translation assignment that had nearly 40 hours worth of work in it. I learned a ton in all the research that I had done. Among the books that were examined were Greek lexicons, word study books, and commentaries that were written by theologically sound writers or, as I would call them, “heavy hitters.” There was so much information that I gathered and I felt like I did a pretty good job of communicating the things that I leaned from other men.

At that time I was doing some work for this older Christian lady. We began to talk about the things of God and I mentioned that I had the opportunity to preach the Sunday before and she asked me what I preached on. Since I was now so knowledgeable on this particular passage, I began to “tell her” the different things that I learned from those great commentaries about that text.

Then this little old lady, who had never attended a Bible school or learned how to translate a Greek text, began to teach me deep things from that passage that I missed. I stood there in awe and I was humbled, because I knew those things that she was telling me were not read from a commentary or taught in a Bible school–God himself taught her these deep truths through His Spirit who resided in her.

The Apostle Paul was an effective communicator; he was trained by the best teachers of his time. He put in the effort to learn and to excel in everything that he did; but Paul does not associate these deep teachings of God with man’s wisdom or his efforts. If man did not teach him these things, who did?

For I would have you know, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ.

Galatians 1:11-12

Through this revelation of Jesus Christ: Paul was indwelt with the Spirit of God and taught by God Himself. All over Scripture we see Paul relying on the Holy Spirit as he confronts false teachers and boldly preaches the gospel. In First Corinthians chapter two, we see Paul relying on the Holy Spirit as he expounds on God’s wisdom versus man’s wisdom.

Paul’s message was not with persuasive or convincing words of man, but in the demonstration of the Spirit and of power. Paul relied on the Spirit, and the Corinthians could not deny that God was with him. This was done, “so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God,” (v. 5).

I learned a humbling lesson from that little old lady. Man’s wisdom is good, but God’s wisdom is so much more superior. Like Paul, as we rely on the Spirit of God to direct us we can be empowered to do God’s work and to even learn the deep things of God that cannot be learned from a book written by man, because “the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God,” (v. 10).

God has great wisdom to teach us and we have the mind of Christ (v. 16); so I encourage you to spend the time in His Word, so that God can teach you the deep things about Himself.

By Brian Hill

Downpour Fellowship

www.downpour.me

 

Lack of Unity

As a church planter, I am starting to understand the amount of energy that goes into building a church that will bring glory to Christ. To even think that within a few years of its launch it could disintegrate because of lack of unity would be heart-breaking to say the least.
This very thing happened to the Apostle Paul with the Corinthian church. He poured himself into this group of people and planted a promising church, only later to learn that the church was falling apart because it was characterized by its lack of unity. They were involved in gross immorality, fighting among themselves, and abusing their spiritual gifts.
Paul writes the first book of Corinthians to address these problems, but it is interesting that he pens these words in verses two through five of chapter one:
“To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, saints by calling, with all who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours:  Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. I thank my God always concerning you for the grace of God which was given you in Christ Jesus,  that in everything you were enriched in Him, in all speech and all knowledge…”
He called them “saints”? This church was acting worse than the pagans outside of the church. But we see Paul praying for them and thanking God for them, because he sees the potential that this group has if only they would remove their self-centeredness and unite in bringing glory to Jesus Christ instead of to themselves.
Since they have accepted Christ as their Savior, they have been sanctified. They have been set apart for a divine purpose. They are saints; they are holy in God’s eyes. It was not because anything they had done or could ever do, but they were holy because God had saved them from their sins and set them apart for his purpose.
In the first ten verses, Paul appeals to them in an authoritative style by mentioning Christ ten times. It was about what Jesus Christ had done, not what they did.  As they focused on Christ instead of themselves they would become unified.
A group who comes together with one mind can do great things for God’s kingdom. This group was rich in speech, knowledge, their testimony, and spiritual gifts (vs. 5). These believers did not come from the church up the road; this was a young church full of new believers. With the spiritual gifts that they had, if they would have only united with one mind focused on Christ, they would have been unstoppable. This church had the makings of a very successful “mega church”, but if these issues would not have been dealt with, they would have been destroyed.
This is where many churches in America are. They are teetering on either becoming used greatly by God or deteriorating from the inside out because their lack of unity. Believers need to realize who they are in Christ. If you have truly accepted Christ as you Savior, you are holy and set apart for God to use you mightily. Do not be self-centered, thinking that it is about what you do–it is about Jesus Christ and what he has already done. What if we were to quit bickering among each other and united with one mind to make Jesus known throughout our cities? What a glorious day that would be. Let’s unite together and pray for this to happen.
1 Corinthians 1:10 says,  “Now I exhort you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all agree and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be made complete in the same mind and in the same judgment.”

Brian Hill
Downpour Fellowship
www.downpour.me