Which kingdom do we proclaim will come?

LET’S GET one thing straight. I’ll never try to sell a hip, contemporary, or retro version of the Gospel. Think what you want, but the way of Christ is full of blood, sweat, tears —  and glory.

A trendy gadget pop culture anti-hero savior won’t do me any good. Christ wasn’t a rugged cowboy either. He was a Semetic Jew carpenter turned itinerant preacher/healer, and they often called him rabbi. Isaiah 53 explains there was nothing physically remarkable about Jesus. He had no style to speak of. His look was quite regular. He often slipped away among the crowd. Even when he was arrested, Jesus had to be identified by a kiss from Judas. Heroes and fashion bugs need not apply here.

Beyond style

If Christ appeared today, you wouldn’t recognize him because he drank beer, wore special clothes, or chummed around with sinners. You’d recognize him because when he spoke you’d feel your heart burn with joy.  Sinners didn’t go to Jesus because he acted like them. What was the attraction? His irresistible goodness.

On the flip side, Christ was so good that it made some want to kill him. Nothing trendy about that.

Too much of Christianity these days wants to mold to society… and that’s why it fails. If I copy the corrupt world’s tactics and patterns, then I shouldn’t be surprised by the results. Just being popular doesn’t save anyone’s soul. If I follow a cheap, feel-good faith, nothing substantial will change about my character.

Get on my knees

I pray a lot but probably not enough. It’s a constant battle. Almost every time Satan tells me, “C’mon. You’ve got better things to do. You’ll get to that later.” Consistent prayer is exceedingly difficult. It’s one of the most real spiritual battles that you will engage with at any time. Sometimes it takes all my might to stick with it. That’s why prayer has the most value of all. That’s why Jesus spent so much time seeking the presence of his Father… sometimes even at the expense of healing people. Still, despite it being a battle, it’s also a deep expression of a desire to spend time with God the Father.

Nobody can market prayer time.  Nobody’s buying, but the rewards are infinite.

Your service will not move the heavens

Unless you literally give your life for the sake of your faith, your service might not do much to move the heavens. I know many good, hard working people who do a lot for their fellow human — but they don’t have a rich prayer life. Does it matter?

Some will tell me, “But service is a type of prayer.” Then why did our Lord spend so much time in actual prayer? Didn’t he know right from wrong? God’s will goes far beyond just avoiding sin. He wants us to seek his presence and pour our hearts out to him. Prayer moves God’s hand to act more than anything.

Who’s the boss?

If it’s always me deciding what I think is best, what place does God have in my life? My son may not be sinning if he washes the car. But what if I really needed him to mow the lawn since it’s going to rain tomorrow?

Spending time in prayer – consulting with God about decisions big and small – is of the utmost importance.

The source

God is life. When I disconnect with him, I quickly lose my spiritual vitality. I begin to die. When I return to him, my Spirit gets revived. The best measure of a person’s spirituality is the extent of their prayer life. I’ve tried to reason around this, but instead it gets confirmed to me over and over again.

If you’re called to tell someone Jesus loves them, how much more impact will your words have if they’re saturated with hours – or even years – of prayer? Who’s including that with the marketing package?

Bait and switch

We might be tempted to offer a “good time” that goes along with being Christian. It’s so much easier to sell a sugar coated message.  It’s much faster if I appeal to vanity, pride, and pleasure. They’ll tell you, “That fire and brimstone talk is outdated. You have to get with the times.” So they say they are a church. But are they really just trying to entertain you like Disney? And that issue of your soul? Well, that would just make you too uncomfortable, so we’ll avoid that.

Fed on the Bread

If my emphasis and focus always circle back to Christ, then I’ll stay on track. Prayer alone keeps me grounded. It keeps me as humble as I can be despite my carnal self.

I look around, and I see the times that I’m supposed to “get with”. I see Babylon burning. Our wretched world needs to know that goodness exists, and not only is it there for the taking — it’s abundant.

When Jesus encountered the vendors at the temple, it was the only time in the Gospels where he got violent. The thieves, prostitutes, tax collectors, and adulterers did not move him to such rage. Yet when they tried to market his Father’s house, his wrath came down hard. If I distort something spiritual into something unholy, then I’d better keep my head down since the hand of God just might smack it off.

What’s my motive? Where is my heart? In prayer alone, the Lord shows me. Pray as if your life depends on it — because it does.

The Lord’s marketing plan

The Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple he found those who were selling oxen and sheep and pigeons, and the money-changers at their business. And making a whip of cords, he drove them all, with the sheep and oxen, out of the temple; and he poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables. And he told those who sold the pigeons, “Take these things away; you shall not make my Father’s house a house of trade.” His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for thy house will consume me.”  

The Jews then said to him, “What sign have you to show us for doing this?” Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” The Jews then said, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will you raise it up in three days?” But he spoke of the temple of his body. When therefore he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this; and they believed the scripture and the word which Jesus had spoken.

John 2:13-22

Christ himself is the complete package. He’s a vision of how to live our lives here on earth. He explains our place in God’s universe. He gives our life meaning. The raw gospel proclaims the prophecy of the Holy Spirit —  a Savior crucified and resurrected for the salvation of souls.

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