“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Matthew 5: 43-48
Jesus definitely holds His followers to a standard much, much, higher than the status quo. He calls us to love even our enemies. Jesus is Love and He is the standard. Jesus even makes loving our enemies and praying for those who persecute us a condition of being able to be rightfully called one of The Heavenly Father’s sons.
Jesus calls us to love the unlovable and the difficult. To reach out and to love those who might disparage and oppose us. It does not matter how we are treated by others. It is all about us treating others as Jesus would treat them. Loving those who love us is easy. Extending ourselves out of love to benefit others is our highest call. We all need to live better lives than the pagans do because of the life and love He has given us so freely equips us to abundantly do so.
Finally Jesus calls us to be “perfect”. It sounds impossible because it really is. The Greek word translated as “perfect” here actually means whole, complete and mature. And those things are possible in this life, but only because Jesus grants us those attributes by abiding in Christ. If we are truly whole then it is possible to love the unlovely because then we are able to give out of our abundance and not our lack of love or compassion. If we are complete then we lack nothing at all and can give all to those who may have need. If we are mature then we can look beyond both our own shortcomings and the shortcomings of those we are seeking to love and serve.
Jesus extended Himself to the point of death on a cross. Now He is calling us to extend ourselves to others in the very same manner. Because Jesus said, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for Me will save it. Luke 9: 23-24
Yes, Jesus has given us a very, very high call. A call that can only be accomplished by abiding in Christ. Apart from Jesus we can do nothing, but in Him our potential to love and be loved is unlimited. Today I choose to follow Him and love others regardless of my own personal comfort zone or level of difficulty. Today I fully surrender to His great and Holy Love for all people, including the dangerous and the difficult.
Kirk Out !
“May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.” Romans 15: 5-7
Unity is a familiar concept in the New Testament. Many times we are encouraged to be ONE and have unity. Unity though is not something we can MANufacture on our own. It says here that God may give us a “spirit” of unity. So then unity is actually a gift from God and not something that can be worked up in the flesh. I have witnessed the Ra Ra Ra of those trying to make unity happen in the church like cheerleaders at some kind of game. Sad to say, but it never really works that way
Unity is something that just “IS” of Christ and we need to just learn to accept it as a given fact among us. Jesus has given us unity. It is right there in front of us and we just need to choose to walk in what He has already provided. Having said that, even though it is a given thing it still needs to be accepted in order for it to be manifest in our lives, both individually and corporately. He has already given us the endurance and encouragement that is needed to walk this path together in unity and not division. Like I said it is a gift, but like all gifts we must choose to unwrap it and then put it to good use.
He wants us to glorify Him in unity with one heart and one mouth. Because together we form one Body with only Jesus as the Head. There is only one Body and together with all the other Christ followers we share one heart and one mouth. There can be no divisions in the true Body of Christ. Because of this we need to accept one another even though we may have warts, blemishes and farts that we may want to hide. Jesus accepted us even with our flaws and so we should also accept our sisters and brothers the way they are with any imperfections in flesh or doctrine.
When we are accepted we come to Him and then He is able to change and conform us to His will. This change never comes before our acceptance of Jesus, but only afterwards and it is often a process that can take many years. The fact is that we are ONE in Christ Jesus and we need to not lose heart as we seek to overcome the obstacles that seem to impede our unity. Jesus wants us to be ONE and we need to surrender to that no matter how long it takes us to bear the fruit of true unity. He takes us with all our imperfections and He works in us until we become one in Him. This process takes patience and time, but by accepting one another now, even though we may seem incomplete, we bring praise to God.
Love and …..
Kirk Out !
P.s. Just because all followers of Jesus share a common core Spiritual unity…. The Body of Christ is still an extremely diverse unit that might not always share full agreement in matters of faith and practice among its members. True Unity with diversity allows vastly different points of view within the Body of Christ. Each individual expression of a local “church” Body may look and function somewhat differently than other local expressions. The key to our unity is that we agree on what Jesus accomplished in HIs birth, life, crucifixion, death and resurrection. As long as we share those core beliefs we are indeed One Body United in Christ.
“…The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, ‘Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?’ They were using the question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing Him. But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with His finger. When they kept on questioning Him, He straightened up and said to them, “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again He stooped down and wrote on the ground. At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” “No one sir,” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you, ” Jesus declared. “Go and sin no more.” John 8: 3-11
Very interesting passage. The Pharisees and teachers of the Law were again trying to trap Jesus in His words so that they could accuse Him. I just hate baited questions, although online they do happen quite frequently. So they brought in a woman caught in the act of adultery and basically asked Jesus if they were supposed to follow the letter of the Law and stone her to death.
Jesus did not respond at first and instead he bent down and started to write on the ground. When they continued to question Him Jesus stood up and told them all to stone her if they were without sin. Then he bent down and started writing on the ground again. Now nobody really knows what Jesus wrote on the ground that day, but I saw Tony Campolo suggest once that Jesus simply started listing different sins on the ground. Sins such as lust, greed, pride, hatred, jealousy and so on. We will never know in this life, but what Tony suggested made a lot of sense to me. To have been there as one of her accusers and to see Jesus write one of my very own sins on the ground there, that sure would have motivated me to drop my stone and get the hell out of there as soon as possible. Whatever the case all of her accusers left the scene until just Jesus and her were left there.
When her accusers left Jesus told her that He did not condemn her, but also to go and sin no more. There we have it. The full message of Jesus. The balance of Jesus. In all my years I have noticed that there are basically two different kinds of churches. Churches that teach hyper-grace and tell everyone that they don’t condemn them no matter the sin they are walking in or where they are in their walk of faith. Their message is we accept you and your sin no matter what. These churches rarely address the matter of sin and when they do they gloss over it and stress grace to the exclusion of truth and real love. Then there are the hyper-judgement churches that just continually point the finger and demand that folks “go and sin no more!”, with little mention of grace and love. Both approaches are way out of balance and neglect the full message of Jesus, which is “I don’t condemn you, but go and sin no more.” Sure we are supposed to accept people right where they are, but along with that acceptance should come a call for an upright walk with God not weighed down in continual sin that hinders both the sinner and those around them.
The true Gospel cannot be shared without an extensive focus on the grace of our Lord, but it is also true that His message also calls for an upright righteousness that moves us away from sin and into a fullness of life in The Spirit and free from the sins that so easily entangle us. Like I said most churches lean too hard in one direction or the other, but if you find yourself part of a fellowship that speaks the truth in love in balance like Jesus did. Then I say you are fortunate indeed. The best fellowships focus on relationship with Him and one another to an extent well beyond typical friendships. However, individually we should also seek His balance in our life and message. This is a difficult task, but as my dear friend Glenn Kaiser says, “The only time we usually strike the balance is when we are going back and forth between the two extremes.” Ain’t that the truth? I know I fall way short of His ideal. Lord have mercy!
Love and …..
Kirk Out !
“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” Colossians 3: 15-17
This is one of my favorite passages of the bible. I just love the whole book of Colossians. According to this passage just what has rule in our hearts? Notice we are not to be ruled by the bible because the bible is not really a rule book even though many have reduced it to that over the centuries. We are also not under the rule of any human leader including apostles, prophets, evangelists, or pastor/teachers. It is in fact PEACE that should be ruling in our hearts. The Greek word used here for “rule” actually conveys the meaning of being an umpire or arbitrator in any given situation. So when we are facing decisions we need to allow PEACE to guide us in making the call. Only PEACE can say fair or foul, strike or ball, safe or out. This makes total sense to me since our Lord and King Jesus is also called The Prince Of Peace. When you are faced with a decision do you ever just wait for PEACE to lead the way? If not, you might just want to make a change in how you proceed in situations that call for such a choice.
WE also need to allow the word of Christ to dwell in us in abundance as WE teach and admonish ONE ANOTHER with all wisdom. Yes, this is supposed to be a give and take, mutual sharing relationship between all Christ followers. We teach ONE ANOTHER and don’t just wait for someone labeled as a Pastor/Teacher to school us in the things of Christ. Everyone in the Body of Christ has been given the gift of the Spirit and we need to rely on that Spirit to lead us in all of our interactions. Then while we are teaching one another in this manner we are also supposed to sing spiritual songs with gratitude in our hearts towards God. It is not odd in our times of fellowship here to even write new songs while we are gathered and in the midsts of being taught via all the different members of the Body of Christ. It is a very good thing to praise Him at all times, but especially when we are gathered together and can sing with one heart in unison with harmony.
Then finally EVERYTHING we do is to be done all in the name of Jesus. I think we make this much more complicated than is needed. If we are truly allowing PEACE via The Spirit to call all the shots in our life then we will be making decisions the way Jesus would want us to. If that is the case then we can be assured that all that we do is done in the name of Jesus. It is when we act on our own without surrendering to His peace that things get disjointed and all out of whack. There are certain things that we cannot do in the name of Jesus, no matter how you whitewash them. For instance we cannot oppress or control others, rape or tell lies in His name. There are a plethora of other things that just don’t line up with His name, but I don’t have time to make such a list and have no desire whatsoever to do so. However, when the moment of choice comes Jesus always points us in the right direction and we know by the Peace in our heart of hearts if we are doing wrong or right in His name. That has at least been my experience over the years in relational fellowship with Him and others.
Kirk Out !
“If you have ANY encouragement from being united with Christ, if ANY comfort from His love, if ANY fellowship with the Spirit, if ANY tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in Spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.” Philippians 2: 1-4
The emphasis on the “ANY’s” is mine and I think it is very important. Many times in our faith walk we are challenged to step up in various situations and I feel that we need to be there when we are called upon. However, sometimes we fail to act in the appropriate moment because we fear that we can’t accomplish the task at hand due to our personal shortcomings. For some reason we think that it takes some kind of SuperChristian with super faith and abilities to get the job done. To me that excuse does not hold water. Even though the traditional church feeds that lie by supporting the Clergy/Laity division and upholding the need for Professionals in the pulpit and other key roles.
I just love what this passage points out. In order to make Paul’s joy complete we do not have to have super encouragement, super comfort, super fellowship, or super tenderness or super compassion. All we have to have is “ANY”! It does not take a lot of any of these attributes to shine, it just takes SOME. Because the Holy Spirit always compensates for what we may lack. So next time instead of talking yourself out of acting in The Spirit in any given circumstance please remember that ANY amount of these good attributes is more than enough to get the job done. We do not need to wait until we are perfect to minister to the needs of others. God takes whatever we have and makes it more than enough at any given moment in time. Because, as always, it is more about Him than it is about us.
Jesus wants to take our individual abilities and put them to good use. To accomplish this, most of the time HE will use us in combination with other believers. We all have individual gifts, but God wants us to work as part of a unit that He calls The Body Of Christ. To be fully used in this manner we need to be like-minded and share the same love of God, so that HE can make us ONE in Spirit and purpose. When we can surrender in that way to HIM and one another; that is when AMAZING things can happen!
To fully become one with others in the Body we need to avoid selfishness and stubborn pride. We need to have some true humility and lift up our fellow members of the Body over and above ourselves. WE need to be involved in each others lives. If we are truly ONE in Spirit we should never say to each other, “That it is none of your business.” We should instead welcome mutual accountability with one another and desire the prayerful input of our peers into our lives.
In closing Jesus equips us well with various gifts and we should always welcome the opportunity to share the Truth in Love with others, even when we feel less than adequate. We need also remember that we are part of something bigger than ourselves and that there is power when we surrender to one another in the Body of Christ. I have found over many years that I need connection to the Body of Christ and that when I choose to accept and walk in that, I experience Jesus to an even greater degree than when I choose to walk alone.
Love and ….
Kirk Out !
“My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit- fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. This is my command: Love each other.” John 15: 12-17
“Love each other.” That is THE command that Jesus gives us. He doesn’t tell us to go to Church or tithe or even read the bible. Pretty amazing huh? Because those are the main things most Pastors tell folks to do every Sunday morning. Seriously, the three main things that the modern traditional “church” tells us to do, are not at all the FOCUS of what Jesus Himself would have us do.
Now I know that BEING in fellowship with other Christ followers is a needed thing, but there is a huge difference between GOING to a building for a service, sitting and listening passively to a Pastor, instead of BEING together in active relationship with other believers with totally open and free ministry and sharing. Tithing? Not even a New Testament requirement, but reading the bible can be an awesome thing if you allow the Holy Spirit to guide you through it. Because without the Spirit’s illumination it is just dead letter that leads us to bondage and legalism.
However, according to Jesus, LOVING one another is the main thing. This fact is confirmed in First Corinthians chapter 13. “The Greatest of these is love.” In fact LOVE is the most excellent way we can choose to interact with others. LOVE is HUGE and we need to surrender to walking in it each moment of our lives. We need always to be effecting the lives of others in a positive manner with His deep and sincere Love.
However, there is another HUGE thing in this passage that is often overlooked or misrepresented by traditional “church” leaders. Here it is: Jesus calls us HIS friends. We are no longer servants or subordinates to Jesus, we are His friends. This suggests that Jesus considers us as peers and fellow workers in His Fathers master plan. Jesus is still the King of Kings, but He stoops to our level and bestows upon us the honor of being His friends. This fact totally blows away the hierarchical form of government used by the traditional “church” and the world system. Jesus does not consider us to be UNDER Him in the way that Pastors consider members of their “church” to be UNDER them. This makes total sense because even the Holy Spirit, the paraclete, is the one called ALONGSIDE us. Any “church” that has its members serving UNDER a Pastor or other human Leader is wrong. So if you are sitting UNDER the ministry of any human leader… I suggest you get out and find mutual fellowship with others who are friends of Jesus. I bow down to Jesus and submit to Him because I want to, not because He requires it. He gives us free will and does not make us follow Him or His ways in this life.
That my friends is a HUGE revelation. There should be no pecking order of any kind in the church because we are all His friends voluntarily submitting to Him and one another. That’s right ALL submission in the church should be totally voluntary. There is one Lord and we are to call no one Pastor or Teacher according to Jesus. When we are all sisters and brothers submitting to one another there is no need for ranks, titles or positions whatsoever in the church. This sets us totally free to simply love one another as He commands. Everyone is important and everyone is a minister unto God and others as He sees fit. WE are all called to be free and directly serve Him and each other in this manner. LOVE wins when all things are mutual and without hierarchy in the Body of Christ.
Love and …..
Kirk Out !
p.s. All I am doing is sharing what is on my heart and mind and I want to honor Jesus by sharing my portion of the truth in love. I am not attempting to judge those who find themselves within a traditional “church” system right now. I just know that we are ALL called to be free of Babylon, that confusing place where truth is mixed with the system. However, I also know that all things must happen in HIS timing and not ours. Grace, peace and love to you all.
“But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of Him. For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life. And who is equal to such a task? Unlike so many, we do not peddle the word of God for profit. On the contrary, in Christ we speak before God with sincerity, like men sent from God.” 2 Corinthians 2: 14-17
Here we go again. God always leads us forward in victory because of Christ; and through us His presence is tangible. Meaning you can smell, taste or feel it. Jesus makes a noteworthy difference in the lives of those who truly follow Him.
On our own we are never up to the tasks He sets before us, but in Christ we accomplish much in His name. There are MANY who present the word of God for monetary gain. They share the Gospel for money, salary and profit. Friends we are not supposed to be paid for sharing Jesus Christ with others. Doing so is contrary to the message and against everything that is true and right. To me getting paid for loving others is like a warped form of prostitution.
We are supposed to speak and live without blemish or having our message tainted by receiving money or profit. People that are truly sent by God are sincere and they do not compromise the truth by receiving pay. Paul wrote, “We do not peddle the word of God for profit.” The word “peddle” here in the Greek means “retail.” Those who were in the gospel business were charging full retail to the saints of God… God’s word with a mark-up. How generous! When Jesus sent out the disciples after empowering them He said, “Freely you have received, freely give.” Well, so much for the generosity of Christ in today’s church system. If you buy a book or tape wherever “Christian” books and paraphernalia are sold, you are going to pay full retail plus unless it is at a secular book dealer and only there can you expect a mark down.
Or how about this passage where Paul is addressing the leaders of the church of Ephesus?
“I have coveted no man’s silver, or gold, or apparel. Yea, you yourselves know, that these hands have ministered unto my necessities, and to them that were with me. I have showed you all things, how that so laboring you ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.” (Acts 20:33-35 KJ2000)
Paul not only worked to support himself with his hands, but he also supported those who travelled with him and told them that it was THEIR job to support the poor and the weak, not the other way around. Paul continues,
“For you remember, brethren, our labor and travail: for laboring night and day, because we would not be a burden unto any of you, we preached unto you the gospel of God. You are witnesses, and God also, how holy and just and unblamable was our behavior among you that believe” (1 Thessalonians 2:9-10 KJ2000)
Paul tells us that to labor with our hands and to preach the gospel without charge is a sign of a true minister having an unblamable behavior among the saints of God. How rare this is in the Laodicean church age we are in where we boast in our Spiritual blindness, nakedness and earthly riches while we leave Jesus locked outside the doors of our “churches”, never allowing His Spirit to get a word in edgewise in our services. We would do well to heed Jesus plea, “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent… He that has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says unto the churches.” (Revelation 3:19-22 KJ2000)
I realize that this message indicts most of the “Church”, so I do not share these words lightly. However, I share because The Spirit leads me and I want the Church to be effective and free. Just because the Church has been doing it the wrong way for centuries does not make it right. Things that have become “Church” traditions since the time of Constantine have infected the Church and it is time for the Church to be freed from the bondage of years past. For many that is happening now. I know of 100’s of Churches and thousands of Christ followers that are free and open and have no Clergy or church buildings. They are using their resources to transform their communities and start other free, relational, Spirit led fellowships around the globe. Please pray and think about it? Are we where The Lord would have us, or do we need a total change? Perhaps these are the days that we will finally complete the Reformation? That’s right, Luther stopped WAY short by keeping the Clergy intact. I am not the first to pen words like this and I most certainly hope I am not the last. I don’t enjoy having to say difficult things like this, things that offend and can bring backlash; but I must and it is what it is…
Love and …….
Kirk Out !
P.s. Thanks to Michael Clark from whom I borrowed a few of these words and concepts. He is a true brother in Christ.
P.s. I know that there are many sincere Clergy that really love the Lord out there, but I also believe they are sincerely wrong by becoming professional paid ministers. We are all called to be bondslaves to Christ and my friends slaves are not paid to serve.