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Rejecting Apathy: Part I

To love God and not embody the agenda of that God, perhaps isn’t loving Him after all.

I kicked off my Rejecting Apathy sermon series this weekend. If you want to listen to it, read it, look at the slides for it, or watch a beautiful David Crowder Band video I used in it, then click here.

Above is one quote in particular that a friend felt was the real kicker for him, so I thought I would highlight that from this week. If there’s anything that jumps out at you in particular, feel free to let me know – it’s always a healthy and beautiful thing to discuss and process further.

D.

Rejecting Apathy.

Re-present Christ, quite literally.

Just FYI, I am doing a three-week series at church based out of my Rejecting Apathy blog series I started. Yes, this is the same Rejecting Apathy that I was doing on this blog, but I put it on hold as I wrote it all into a devotional styled book, and then 10250 words later, it is finished.

I will be releasing the book as a PDF download here later this week, it’s being edited at the moment. I will also be putting up the sermon series audio too for anyone who would like to listen in.

I would appreciate prayer as I finish all these things off, thanks in advance!

D.

Rejecting Apathy | Matthew 6:19-24

Lay up treasures in heaven

     “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
     “The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!
     “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.

___

“Is your salvation a ticket to new life LATER, or is it a freedom to live new life NOW?” This question has consumed me over the last two years – hence the name of my blog, “Not just a ticket to heaven”. 

So, in light of that, I am going to come and say it: I don’t believe that our Christian faith is to be one that just lazily sits around and waits for “glory” one day later. I believe we are to be love, restoration and humility with skin-on, now.

Yes, I know that is incredibly hard – and if you don’t think it is, I am not sure we are following the same Christ.

Jesus, here in this passage for today, has listed out a couple of counter-cultural actions that his followers are to follow: love and value something far greater than just your “stuff”; be people who continually look at yourself and make sure you are living mission (light); don’t bow down to money – serve the Kingdom!

Jesus has given us a job to do, and he continually gives us great examples of how to do it…

  • Do love: go and love some body, rather than some thing 
  • Do restoration: check yourself, and make sure you go and do mission today
  • Do humility: don’t try become the king of your own kingdom, instead, clock in to work for the one whose Kingdom is the best.

Think about Love, Restoration, Humility – which do you lack right now?

So, the challenge for today? Do what you lack.

Rejecting Apathy | Matthew 6:16-17

Fasting
     “And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
___

Here is the third of Jesus’ warnings to his disciples about something that Jesus cares greatly about: the heart. For the third time, he is mentioning that it is not about doing something out of tradition or because it’s “what we do” – he is giving a harsh warning that it is about the heart condition of why the person is doing this.

Am I doing it so that my name will be ticked off some cosmic roll-check? Sometimes, although we don’t think that directly, this is one of the biggest fears and motives for a lot of the things we do in our Christian walk.

Am I doing it so that I can look great? Again, why we may not think that directly, sometimes when it all boils down to it – we actually want our halo to be a bit shinier than those next to us.

Am I doing this because my mum, or dad, or pastor, or mentor has told me too? Is force, or fear, driving the reason why you are doing some of the things you are doing – or is it because of something more, that very something that Jesus is mentioning here…

Am I doing this because I love Jesus, and I love his mission He has invited me int?. Am I doing it because it is a pleasure to serve Him? Am I doing it because I appreciate the joy of doing divine activity like praying, giving and fasting?

So many questions – now you need to discover your answers.
Think about the questions above.

So, the challenge for today? Check your heart and see if a fast is on the cards…

Rejecting Apathy | Matthew 6:5-15

The Lord’s prayer
     “And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
     “And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. Pray then like this:
     “Our Father in heaven,
     hallowed be your name.
     Your kingdom come,
     your will be done,
          on earth as it is in heaven.
     Give us this day our daily bread,
     and forgive us our debts,
          as we also have forgiven our debtors.
     And lead us not into temptation,
          but deliver us from evil.
     For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
___

I love the Lord’s prayer, and it was made fantastically far more relevant once I had learnt this little structure within it.

Firstly though I should mention: it’s a model. It’s an example from Jesus of what it looks like to pray effectively. It teaches us to pray, not tells us what to pray – there’s a subtle difference there. This isn’t the exact prayer you should pray word for word (though, there is no harm in doing so) but these are the things you should cover:
  1. Praise and worship, setting your sight on the reality of God’s Kingdom – not yours.
  2. Your Kingdom come, on earth as it is in your Kingdom!
  3. Provide for us please, with your Kingdom provision
  4. Forgive us, and help us to forgive like people do when they are in your Kingdom
  5. Keep us safe and protect us as we do work in your mission, working for your Kingdom
  6. Praise again, just to remember who’s the boss.

So that’s it for today, a simple little prayer structure that helps me to pray effectively and remember that God isn’t some bank-teller or ticket-giver, but that I play a role in His mission here on earth and I always need to find out what His agenda is, and then pray that.

Think about how the Lord’s prayer teaches us to pray rather than just what to pray.

So the challenge for today? Pray! Log off the computer and actually pray…

Rejecting Apathy | Matthew 6:1-4

Giving to the needy
     “Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.
     “Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
___

Ahhhh…. Hypocrisy. Doing all the right things, but for all the wrong reasons. We are all guilty of this, though we are slow to admit it.

Today, is a simple blog entry. It’s an inventory; a checking of what is in our hearts, and then allowing the agenda of those things to be checked against Jesus’ agenda.

Do a heart check of these things:
  • Attention to Jesus (Is His agenda the one we are pursuing? Or is it actually mine…?)
  • Motive for mission (Why are we doing what we are doing?)
  • Compassion for the people (Is the desire, or heart-break to do it even there?)
  • Love for Jesus, and his mission, and his creation. (A wrap up of all these things…)
  • …anything else you feel led to add.
Think about these heart-checks and respond to the promptings of the Holy Spirit.

So the challenge for today? Do the things Jesus did – but for the right reasons.

Rejecting Apathy | Matthew 5:43-48

Love your enemies
     “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
___

“Baby, you complete me, but you make a lot of assumptions; when you assume things, you make an ass out of you, and me. Don’t make an ass out of me.”
– Me First and the Gimme Gimmes (“End of the Road”, off the Take A Break album)

Jesus came, as the visible image of the invisible God, to clear up and redefine what some had been saying about this invisible God’s way of living and representing Him. The problem he is clearing up here, is that some of the things people were doing as “The Law” wasn’t actually The Law at all; it was an assumption.

No where in the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) does it say that you should hate your enemy. Jesus, is clearing up some sort of assumption that had developed, and he clears it up good.

God does hate evil, and that is quite evident in the Hebrew Bible – but no where does He command us to hate those who do evil. Fullstop.

Hatred of evil-doers seems to still be happening today, and the sad thing? It’s all just based on assumption. The heart-wrenching thing for me? 

Every time a well-meaning “Christian” hates an enemy, a piece of me dies inside; because Jesus said right here that hating these people isn’t the correct response to evil, instead we are to love them and pray for them.

Think about the power of the assumption, and then watch this video.


So the challenge for today? Love and pray.