Response to “Christian, what’s your point?” By John Pavlovitz

Response to “Christian, what’s your point?” By John Pavlovitz

http://johnpavlovitz.com/2017/06/07/christian-whats-point/

I feel like the Christian could just deflect and ask this person to be fair and look at the other faiths and ask the same thing. But, as a Christian, I believe that ultimately Truth comes from God, and I believe that the God of the Christian Scriptures is the One that doles out that Truth. SO, we should be held to a higher accountability. So I won’t ask that. (Not really at least, I do understand I technically asked it a second ago!)
What I will do is attempt to offer some answers, the answers that my specific life lives when rubbing up against the specific lives of others. 


Christian…
My faith is built on nothing less than Jesus, His life – death – resurrection and promise to return again at the appropriate (in His eyes) time. It’s not (necessarily) built on tradition, though it IS informed by it. Christ is my lynchpin of faith, for without Him my faith is foolishness and I, above others, should be pitied for my confusion. 
My hope is built upon a Word that has been tried and tested and has been found to be a strong foundation. It is a Word written by man, carried along in the Spirit. It has been saved from corruption, in its original manuscript. It tells the story of a real people. It tells that story using human literary style (poem, exposition, narration, genealogy, letter, proverb, songs, metaphor, etc) and all of it relative to its cultural context. 
I believe that this faith, juxtaposed and related to ALL others shows full Truth. Weighing the veracity of the world’s faiths I believe that this one, which centers on not what we can do for us, but what Christ has already completed on our behalf is a much more beautiful picture of salvation. We are not on a scale that weighs our good and bad throughout life, and where we fall at the end will determine an outcome of some sort (Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism – to the degree that it is a religion and not a philosophy – and so many others). It’s not the worship of elemental or natural gods like the many, many historical (and modern) pagans of Ancient Greece, Rome, Celts, Cherokee, Canaanites, Japanese, etc). 

I worship the Triune God of all things. The preexisting One. The Creator, Sustainer, and Consummator of all creation from the past to now and into eternity. He is not stars or earth, because He made them. He is not the thunder or rain because He controls them. He is not turned away (ultimately) because you do more good things (in His eyes) than bad throughout your life. He is not found in intense meditation. Or in the ramblings of vain preachers. He isn’t found in the darkness, because He is light, and in Him is no darkness (or variation) at all. 
This Triune God is the epitome of relationship. As He has had a perfect relationship within Himself since far before the dawn of creation, He continues it to this day, and He will maintain it unto eternity. This relationship was to be displayed in His ultimate creation and reflection of His character – man. Man is the image bearer of this True God. 

That image was marred in our first sin. Because sin, and fallenness, is real. It isn’t a tool to control. It isn’t a lie to control. It isn’t self deprecating to feel somehow good about ourselves. It also isn’t manmade to push down and oppress certain people. It is established  in Scriptures, can be seen (through that light) in the areas of science, and is pretty obvious if you’ve ever had kids or interacted with human beings at all. Sin broke the connection, which leads us back to Christ’s sufficiency and the hope we trust in. 
Finally, I believe in the tradition of historical, orthodox, and reformed Christianity. Founded in OT & NT. Perfected in Christ and His actions. Continued by the apostolic church. Preserved in the canon until the Reformation. Brought along in the Spirit to prevent bastardization from original manuscripts. Translated overtime to come to us in English. My faith is reformed, and ever reforming. It find Truth in the God of Scripture alone, in the power of Christ alone, through grace alone, by faith alone, and only to glorify the Triune God alone. 


What’s your point…?

What’s my point? What’s my point for prefacing a response with that? Well, in a broken world with many false narratives – I wanted to establish where I came from. Where I came from helps explain where my live intersects others. 
Those above listed points, Mr. Pavlovitz, lead me to three main life choices (lead, bring me to, allow me the freedom, oblige me). 


1. Treat all mankind as image bearers of the God they may or may not know. 

Every man, woman, and child I come in contact with bears the image of our Creator.  They may not know Him. They may hate Him. They may hate His Church. They may hate me. That doesn’t change the fact that we are called to treat them with respect and love them as our neighbor. As an image bearer they deserve respect. They deserve love. But they also deserve Truth. 

Do I do this perfectly? Well… no. Of course not. But my life that I live is reflecting this desire more everyday. I curse people sometimes, or curse at them. I engage in gossip and other things. And when I do, I tear into that image. It doesn’t make the rest of my life worthless as a Christian, just shows that I am still growing. 

My desire to treat everyone in love and care, and in Truth, I hope, shows up in everything I do. If I can live a specific life that reflects this Truth into others’ specific lives, I’m on the right path. 
2. Treat sin as sin. But do so with care, compassion, relationship, and distinction

Calling a spade a spade. If it quacks and walks like a duck, it must be a duck. Call it as you see it. All these adages fall apart somewhere, but they have a bit of truth too. As Christians we know that the whole world is fallen. From myself, to my family, the church members, to nature itself. It is all perverted. Something just isn’t right with everything. That thing is sin. It pervades every inch of creation. It is why we lie, cheat, steal, kill, commit sinful sexual acts, covet what we don’t have, and seek to usurp the Creator from His rightful place. 

Now, I could Bible thump. As many have before me. I could tell you how terrible you are, and how much you need a savior – mine in particular. But that violates the first thing I mentioned. I, you, we are image bearers of the aforementioned Triune God. He is in constant relationship. So, when He speaks, He speaks out of a place of relation and connection. 

If I want to have any shot of sharing my relationship with Christ with you I need to begin by having a relationship with you. How can I expect you to even begin listening to me in your troubled times, or jubilant times if I haven’t invested in creating a real relationship with you?? If I don’t, then yes, I will be bible thumping. I will be criticizing. I will be, honestly, hating you. And it is not ours to hate. 

As a Christian I am to love. Love everyone. Love my brothers and sisters, in Christ. But that’s just the thing. I love you in Christ. As Christ loved. And eventually. When we have a true, loving, deep relationship – I love like the woman at the well felt love. A love that stings, but like when you pour alcohol on a wound. It stings because the healing has begun. I am not the One who heals, but I may be the only Christ you see. So I will be damn sure that you see Him in His beauty, radiance, love, Truth, and justice. 
3. Trust that God is in control of our lives. 

I do not change your heart, for I did not change mine (remember the grace and faith alone). As an omniscient and omnipotent God, He alone changes hearts. Those who He called will hear His voice. I should be so lucky to be a part of that journey. But in the end it is my job to simply display His truth in my life. 

You can hate or love me. But ultimately God will judge me. You will find that to be true too someday. But I pray that my relationship with you will cause you pause. Will cause you to ask me why I act the way I do. Will cause you to call me out when I act in opposition to the faith I proport to have. God is in control, I will not “bring you to faith.” But I pray that my actions, my words, my life will cause you to want to know more. 

More about this faith that is different from the media portrayed Christians. Different from the big time names who seem to glimmer but fade at the same time. Different from the way you were taught to see Christians. Different from other faiths. And I will tell you about this Jesus who I cling to for my life. 

This post is like scratching the surface of my faith in an eternal God who wants to know you, and maybe it piques your interest to just hear more of what I think or have to say. Maybe you write it off as just another regurgitation of “what I’ve been told.” Or maybe you agree with me but couldn’t formulate the words. Maybe you have different thoughts all together. In any case, I’d love to hear from you!
Thanks for reading, and I hope it wasn’t too terrible to get through! 

Blessings,

David

Who’s on the Lord’s side?

Tomorrow, in SC, is primary day for voting. I am usually quite silent on these issues. However, I cannot stand by and see the Trump take this state… He is not a good man, and a TERRIBLE candidate to represent the “conservative” side of the nation. 
I am one that typically places little, to no, faith in the “power” of political figures. My hymn today reflects Who’s side we should be on. The Republicans are inundated with “Christian” options for the ticket. Let me be clear that we are not a Christian nation – and I’m glad of it. We shouldn’t be. That said, I want to see a candidate take office that reflects the values and holds dear the truths that Scripture preach. We shouldn’t enact laws that enforce our religion – again, we are not a Christian country – but at the same time holding those truths (and they ARE truths whether you hold them or not) should not be damnable in this country. 
So, read this hymn brothers and sisters, and when you go into vote in the primaries tomorrow remember that, ultimately, we must be on God’s side. We ultimately need to trust Him in our lives. Amen?
#hymnsforHim
1. Who is on the Lords side? 

Who will serve the King? 

Who will be His helpers, 

other lives to bring? 

Who will leave the worlds side? 

Who will face the foe? 

Who is on the Lords side? 

Who for Him will go? 

By Thy call of mercy, 

by Thy grace divine, 

We are on the Lords side 

Savior, we are Thine!
2. Not for weight of glory, 

not for crown and palm, 

Enter we the army, 

raise the warrior psalm; 

But for love that claimeth lives 

for whom He died: 

He whom Jesus nameth 

must be on His side. 

By Thy call of mercy, 

by Thy grace divine, 

We are on the Lords side 

Savior, we are Thine!
3. Jesus, Thou hast bought us, 

not with gold or gem, 

But with Thine own life blood, 

for Thy diadem; 

With Thy blessing filling each 

who comes to Thee, 

Thou hast made us willing, 

Thou hast made us free. 

By Thy grand redemption, 

by Thy grace divine, 

We are on the Lords side 

Savior, we are Thine!
4. Fierce may be the conflict, 

strong may be the foe, 

But the Kings own army 

none can overthrow; 

Round His standard ranging, 

victory is secure, 

For His truth unchanging 

makes the triumph sure. 

Joyfully enlisting 

by Thy grace divine, 

We are on the Lords side 

Savior, we are Thine!
5. Who will stand for justice 

in a time of need 

Who will hear the poor man 

and his children plead 

Who will heal the rich man 

of his poverty 

Who will tell the homeless 

of eternity 

By Your love and mercy, 

and Your grace divine 

We are on the Lord’s side 

We are on the Lords side 

Savior, we are Thine!

“The Sands of Time Are Sinking”

“The Sands of Time Are Sinking”

#hymnsforHim

The Sands of Time Are Sinking

1. The sands of time are sinking,
The dawn of heaven breaks;
The summer morn I’ve sighed for –
The fair, sweet morn awakes:
Dark, dark had been the midnight
But dayspring is at hand,
And glory, glory dwelleth
In Emmanuel’s land.

2. The king there in His beauty,
Without a veil is seen:
It were a well-spent journey,
Though seven deaths lay between:
The Lamb with His fair army,
Doth on Mount Zion stand,
And glory, glory dwelleth
In Emmanuel’s land

3. O Christ, He is the fountain,
The deep, sweet well of love!
The streams on earth I’ve tasted
More deep I’ll drink above:
There to an ocean fullness
His mercy doth expand,
And glory, glory dwelleth
In Emmanuel’s land.

4. The bride eyes not her garment,
But her dear Bridegroom’s face;
I will not gaze at glory
But on my King of grace.
Not at the crown He giveth
But on His pierced hand;
The Lamb is all the glory
Of Emmanuel’s land.

5. O I am my Beloved’s
And my Beloved is mine!
He brings a poor vile sinner
Into His house of wine
I stand upon His merit –
I know no other stand,
Not e’en where glory dwelleth
In Emmanuel’s land.

I know this hymn from my childhood…but I can’t tell you the last time I sang it, let alone read through it. But – seriously – if you just skipped down to my words, go back and read through that! It’s like reading C.S. Lewis or J.R.R. Tolkien! The imagery!! The content! Wow. Just wow.

 There is honestly so much in this song that speaks volumes about the beauty of God’s plan in this world. A plan that “brings a poor vile sinner into His house of wine.” It provides the answer to the two part question:

  1. Who is God?
  2. Who are we in relation to God?

God is He who, from the foundation of time, has been the fountain of all things. He is beautiful, He is glorious, He is mercy incarnate. God is He who with the same power that breaks the will of Leviathan (Job 41), gently lifts up the broken who trust on Him. God is He who willingly takes in those who are helplessly sinful and shows them a mercy that cannot be described with human analogy. His mercy is extended to those who are called according to His purpose. Mercy is not free to all, but free to those whom He foreknew. Those who He foreknew, He also predestined.  How just would mercy be if it were for everyone..?

Who are we? Well, we are the poor, vile sinner. We sin. Daily. I mess up. Daily. I find myself chasing after temptuous thoughts. Literally. I just want to find a new way to be a bad Christ-follower. I take part in teasing, or negative talk of someone at work. I seek that thing that arouses me in sin. Seek it. Look for it at times. Or maybe I get angry at my wife for no reason other than she was right about something that I wanted to be right about… thus making me feel guilty. Seriously. Sinning is one of the easiest things to do when fallen. All of mankind has this problem, and that should not be hard to see. So, as nasty vile sinners – what are we to do? Do we just simply ignore the problem, say it is made up, and pat ourselves on the back for being less evil than other more evil people?? No. We need salvation. We need cleaning. Thus, the mercy that God provides is most necessary to our eternal living arrangements.

But – as a nasty, vile, selfish, proud sinner – do you think I am going to just be like, “yea! awesome, you are going to take my sin away, reminding me of how terrible I am. AND, you are going to do it for free because, in your own perfect Will, You decided that I was to be called to be in your family? AND there is nothing I did to deserve or earn this? Great! Sounds good!” No. Of course not. That may sound like the easiest gig in the world. But it gives up control. We no longer command our fate. Our destiny then is necessarily sealed from the get go. We also must admit we were flawed in the first place. This too, a post/ultra-modern “no-no.” We can’t just give up control!? That flies in the face of all we are taught about who we are as people, as Americans... We must be commanders of our own fate. Captains of our own ship. But Christ calls us to toss all that aside and see Him as our true salvation.

The bride looks to the bridegroom, not her own garments. His beauty is immensely more beautiful than her own. Even at her best. She knows this. And is swept up in its Truth. It is His sacrifice that draws her attention the strongest, not the prize such a sacrifice awards. But this is a gospel we need to preach to ourselves daily. This isn’t always easy to remember. Christians, I think, get so caught up in the concept of sharing the gospel with others that we forget to preach the gospel to ourselves first. You must first find that God has brought you into right relation with Him before you can even attempt to bring another into right relation with Him. Remove the log from your own eye, before you point out the speck in another’s. And that analogy works both from a prideful and logical standpoint.

Finally, let’s Tarantino this, and go back to the very beginning of the song. “The sands of time are sinking…” We are in the last hour. Every minute we are alive is one minute closer to Christ’s return. We are given basically one calling as Christians – aside from trusting on Him who gave us eternal life. It actually spawns off from that gift and trust. Once, like I said above, we get our own heads on straight (facing Him, not ourselves), we need to be facing out. Into the world. Reflecting the Light of the world, Jesus the Christ. A friend of mine, quoting another theologian, told me a profound truth. If I were one outside the faith. If I had Christian friends who, believing to be holding the one true Key to eternal joy and eternal life with a God who had created all things with but words. AND, if those friends never had the gall or gumption to breach the subject with me… well, I would be appalled! Do I not deserve evangelism? Do I not need to hear these words, even if I think you are mad to the core? Regardless of what another person will say or think or do in response to your proposition of the Gospel, is it not your duty to share that Gospel??

“The sands of time are sinking.” Christ will return with no warning. And I ask you, American Christians? I ask myself… What are we doing about it? Are we drinking, and eating, and being merry – because tomorrow we die? Are we blissfully ignorant of our friends and family that have no saving faith? Are we… dare I say it… selfish? Selfish of the gift we have been given? I doubt that last one – or at least I hope not… Honestly I think it is fear. Fear of the “no.” Fear of rejection. Fear of awkwardness… And, let me say this, I am typing this – and hearing it in my head – and my words condemn me too. How easy is it to just slide along through life not offending anyone. Not bringing Truth into the conversation at work when you hear so many lies? Not being a source of Living Water when a friend needs it – even if they don’t want to hear it! Brothers and sisters. We rejected the Living Water too! We didn’t want to hear where we needed to change a portion of our lives. But Christ wants to save as many of mankind as He can. And trust me, He will save all of His people.

Don’t get me wrong. My, your, our personal involvement in salvation is moot. We are simply doing His work. But step back and think about that! God – in His infinite wisdom and power – knew it was best for me, for you, for us, to be involved personally in the salvation and evangelism of this world. We get the immense pleasure of being a part of a plan that reaches back before the foundation of the world. God chooses to use us, poor vile sinners, to bring the Truth of the Good News to other poor vile sinners. To share the stories that show the Truth of our fallen nature, but the just Truth of His mercy. That we stand in Christ alone for our salvation. The sands of time are sinking, and we need to ask ourselves how are we working out our salvation? Are we working it out with fear and trembling, as Paul writes, or are we complacent – poised to be spit out for the sin of “lukewarmness” as John writes?

If you have any questions, please comment or message me! If you like this post, please “like” and share! If you need me to expound on something, let me know! Thank you for reading, and have a great day!