Saturday, March 20, 2010

The Census

The United States of America is still [statistically] considered a Christian nation. Approximately 159 million people, 76.5% of the United States’ population, consider themselves “Christian.”

Where are they? It just seems to me I’d be bumping into a few here and there. I guess they (“we”) tend to keep our “Christianity” private. But, should we?

“As you have therefore received the Christ, [even] Jesus the Lord, [so] walk - regulate your lives and conduct yourselves - in union and conformity to Him.” - Colossians 2:6 Amplified Bible

This verse presents a clear standard to live by. I need to conduct myself in “union and conformity” to Jesus. So, let’s broaden our “census”. Let’s find out from the religious leaders of Jesus’ day their opinion of Jesus’ lifestyle.

“And as Jesus reclined at table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and especially wicked sinners came and sat reclined with Him and His disciples. And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to His disciples, “why does your Master eat with tax collectors and those pre-eminently sinful?” - Matthew 9:10-11 Amplified Bible

“And when the scribes (belonging to the party) of the Pharisees,when they saw that He was eating with (those definitely known to be especially wicked) sinners and tax collectors, said to His disciples, “why does He eat and drink with tax collectors and notorious) sinners?" - Mark 2:17

Jesus confronted the religious leaders with their own words of condemnation:

“The Son of Man has come eating and drinking,and you say, “behold, a Man Who is a glutton and a wine-drinker, a friend of tax collectors and notorious sinners.” - Luke 7:34 Amplified Bible

The finger pointing continued long after Jesus ascended back into heaven. The Christian faith was new and growing. This rapid growth, with so many people of varying backgrounds and former beliefs, resulted in divisions. The Apostle Paul wanted to encourage members of the church at Corinth to stay focused upon TRUTH not opinion. He wanted to make certain they followed God’s law not the traditions of men and man- made laws.

Paul explained:

“For although I am free in every way from any one’s control, I have made myself a bond servant to everyone, so that I might gain the more [for Christ]. To the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might win Jews; to men under the Law, [I became] as one under the Law, though not myself being under the Law, that I might win those under the Law. To those without law I became as one without law, not that I am without the law of God and lawless toward Him, but that I am [especially keeping] within and committed to the law of Christ, that I might win those who are without (outside) law. To the weak (wanting in discernment) I have become weak (wanting in discernment) that I might win the weak and over scrupulous. I have [in short] become all things to all men, that I might by all means-at all costs and in any and every way-save some [by winning them to faith in Jesus Christ].” - 1 Corinthians 9:19-22

The “union and conformity to Christ” spoken of in Colossians 2:6 reveals Jesus’ open arms of love to those considered undesirable by the religious leaders of His day. Likewise, Paul’s primary objective was to share this “union and conformity to Christ” with everyone, wherever they may be.

How can a Christian do this and not compromise? Paul goes on to explain:

“Have the roots [for your life] firmly and deeply planted [in Him] - fixed and founded in Him - being continually built up in Him, becoming increasingly more confirmed and established in the faith, just as you were taught, and abounding and overflowing in it with thanksgiving. See to it that no one carries you off as spoil or makes you yourselves captive by his so-called philosophy and intellectualism, and vain deceit idle fancies and plain nonsense, following human tradition - men’s ideas of the material [rather than the spiritual] world - just crude notions following the rudimentary and elemental teachings of the universe, and disregarding [the teachings of] Christ, the Messiah. For in Him the whole fullness of Deity (the Godhead), continues to dwell in bodily form - giving complete expression of the divine nature. And you are in Him, made full and have come to fulness of life - in Christ you too are filled with the Godhead: Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and reach full spiritual stature. And he is the Head of all rule and authority - of every angelic principality and power.” - Colossians 2:7-10

And so, while the nation counts lives, the Bible challenges us to make our lives count! Not in the pews, not in the safety of the church building only, but out and about - on the highways and byways. Loving and serving those whom Christ loves!

God bless!

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