RSS

Tag Archives: Christian lifestyle

The Counter-Culture of Faith

Our culture is our way of life.  Why, then, does modern Christianity seem so much like the culture of America?

It doesn’t matter what you talk about, the statistics are very close.  Divorce, drug and alcohol abuse, depression, and a host of other issues seem very much a part of church life.

Even with this latest outbreak of COVID-19, the church seems to be in as much fear as the society around us.  Why are we so much like the world?

We would rather talk about religion than Jesus.  We try to be so careful not to offend anyone by what we believe.

I think an important word to use is counter.  Think about how we use it in society.  We have groups in counter-intelligence or counter-terrorism.  To be counter means that you are going opposite that group.

More than any other people-group, Christianity should be a counter-culture.  We should have our own cultural lifestyle.

As the church, we should have our own way of doing things.  It should be very different than how our society operates.

We need to see the Scriptural pattern.

Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ.  He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.
2 Corinthians 1:21-22

This verse tells us that it’s God’s job to make us stand firm in Christ.  How does He do that?  The Lord accomplishes it by anointing us.

Anointing – now there’s a rich word.  The very word, Christ, means the Anointed One.  His anointing came from the Holy Spirit that was upon Him.  Now we’re standing firm in the Anointed One.  That’s where we have the power to fulfill what we’re called to do.

This passage states that the anointing upon us is one of the things that are guaranteeing what is to come.  This tells me that we have a future in Christ.  This anointing is taking us somewhere.

In the same way, this culture we live in is headed somewhere.  It leads to addiction, divorce, depression, fear, guilt, and, worst of all, hell.  Personally, I don’t want to go where the American culture is leading us to.

As the church of Jesus Christ, our future – our direction – should be vastly different.  Actually, the world should want what our culture leads to.  The differences should be obvious.  We need to get back to the basics of what Christ wants to do in us.  Then we must follow it through to the end.

Question: What are some differences that should be obvious to the world?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

Tags: , , , , ,

Rules Don’t Work

Legalism causes many problems in the Body of Christ.  As I continue looking at the book of Galatians, Paul has finished with his examples and now begins his teaching in great detail.  He starts with the bottom line so that there’s no mistaking what he believes.

We who are Jews by birth and not ‘Gentile sinners’ know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ.  So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law, because by observing the law no one will be justified.
Galatians 2:15-16

Paul is making an important point here.  But it’s not one that everyone can identify with.  In order to explain it, I need to give you a bit of my personal testimony.

Simply put; I am a “Timothy”.  My grandparents, on both sides, were godly Christians, baptized in the Spirit.  My parents were brought up in the church – as a matter of fact, that’s where they met.

When I came along, I had no choice but to attend church whenever the doors were open.  For that, I’ll be eternally grateful.

As wonderful as it was to be brought up in a Christian home with Biblical training, it did present me with a very unique set of challenges.  This is because I learned the “rules” of the Christian lifestyle before I learned about grace.

I started out thinking that simply by “being good” I could please God.  It wasn’t until I was able to grasp the deeper issues of life that I understood the truth of God’s righteousness.  This is what Paul is talking about.

People who are brought up with no Scriptural background – the Gentiles – have lived their whole life by trying to be the best they could.  They wanted to be a functioning part of society.

“Be kind to others and continue to better yourself.”

In my growth, I had a different training.  I learned what pleases God as well as the things He hates.  Let me tell you that I can give a hearty “Amen,” to what Paul is saying.  By my experience, I know that following the rules makes absolutely no points with God.

I was brought up in the church.  I spent my formative years sheltered from the worldly society.  I never fell into any great sin or even hung around with “bad people”.  Yet, in spite of all that, I needed a Savior as much as any drug-dealing, murdering, alcoholic.

All of my good works meant nothing in bringing me into God’s kingdom.  I had to repent, bow my knees to Christ, and ask Him to place His Spirit within me.  Unless and until I did that, I could never be right in the eyes of God.

If, while we seek to be justified in Christ, it becomes evident that we ourselves are sinners, does that mean that Christ promotes sin?  Absolutely not!  If I rebuild what I destroyed, I prove that I am a lawbreaker.
Galatians 2:17-18

What Paul is saying here is that there’s no going back.  Now that I’m justified in Christ, trying to live by the Law is a dead-end.  I’m back to being a lawbreaker again because I can never live up to God’s standard on my own.  I started in grace and I must continue in God’s grace.

For the rest of this letter, Paul is going to explain to the Galatian church why this truth is so important and how to apply it to their lives.

Question: How have you experienced that following a set of rules doesn’t work?

© Nick Zaccardi 2017

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on August 4, 2017 in Legalism, Spiritual Walk, The Church

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

What Are You Known For?

In my last post I talked about the way the Thessalonian believers imitated Paul’s lifestyle. They were commended for it.

But as we read further in Paul’s letter to them, we find out even more. This lifestyle, living for God, wasn’t a private thing. They weren’t just “closet Christians”. Here’s what Paul said about them.

And so you became a model to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia. The Lord’s message rang out from you not only in Macedonia and Achaia — your faith in God has become known everywhere. Therefore we do not need to say anything about it, for they themselves report what kind of reception you gave us. They tell how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead — Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath.
1 Thessalonians 1:7-10

All over the region, people were talking about how the Thessalonians had received the Gospel. Of course, it was a Gospel that included a demonstration of God’s power. They allowed it to get into their hearts and change their lives.

The first thing that we see is that they were turned around. They had formerly been worshipping idols, but now they are servants of God. It takes the power of God to make that kind of change.

Serving idols is easy. As a matter of fact, our culture is full of idolatry. No, not the carved images, but we serve man-made idols. There are those who worship the gods of education, finance, entertainment, or sports.

The thing about idolatry is that it makes you feel good about what you can do. You can compare yourself to those around you.

“Look at me! I’m smarter than you.” “I’m more athletic than you.” “I’ve got more money than you.”

The reason it’s hard to turn to God from this is because it requires a whole new mindset. Once I turn to Christ, it has nothing to do with me and everything to do with God. It’s not about what I can do, but what the Lord is doing in me.

When we serve idols, we’re actually serving ourselves. In the kingdom of God we serve Him. God sets the agenda for us.

The secret to their faithfulness was that they kept their eyes on Jesus. Part of Paul’s testimony about them was that they were actively waiting for Jesus. With their focus on Him, they were able to serve with joy.

Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.
Romans 12:11

The word zeal means to be very eager to serve the Lord. I think that’s what’s missing in the lives of many believers. They have no eagerness to serve God. Why is that?

According to this verse, it requires spiritual fervor. The word translated as fervor literally means to be boiling over. It requires power to heat water to the boiling point. Left to itself it remains at room temperature – lukewarm.

If we will spend time with the Holy Spirit, then His power will be at work in our spirit. He can give us that spiritual fervor that we need to serve God with true zeal.

Then, just like the Thessalonian believers that Paul commended, our faith will become known to all those around us.

Question: How “hot” is your spiritual life right now? What can you do to increase it?

© Nick Zaccardi 2017

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on May 17, 2017 in Faith, Revival, Spiritual Walk

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,