When is the last time you got your hands dirty for Christ?

I’m not talking about your ecumenical volunteer work, or punching in your PIN at the ATM to give money to African orphans as though that excuses you from selling out for Christ. I’m talking about uncomfortable, undeniable, unadulterated gospel living that risks something.

Consider one of these:

  • Giving a clear gospel presentation to people you know are unsaved, unchurched
  • Going out of your comfort zone on purpose to further the gospel
  • Putting more energy into furthering the gospel than your hobbies
  • Telling someone the truth instead of staying silent
  • Refusing to gossip and explaining why at the risk of being shunned by those who do
  • Risking relationships for the gospel
  • Risking your health for the gospel
  • Risking your wealth for the gospel
  • Risking your life for the gospel

Has it been 3 days? 30 days? 30 years? Ever?

American Christians roll their eyes at this sort of rhetoric but mostly out of guilt and conviction because they know they’re living a soft version of the Christian life. Some, to be fair, have just never been taught or shown what it’s like to live Christianity to its fullest.

For the majority of us, let’s face it. We love our cute and comfortable version of the gospel. It’s so easy anyone can do it. It’s American Christianity.  We love our padded church seats, our big parking lots, our family drop off roundabouts, our  short, funny, easy sermons, our live stream from the comfort of our bed, and our prayer board for things like: Little Suzy wants a newer bike for Christmas. Daddy and Mommy hope their stock portfolio does well so they can buy a 4- bedroom house with an attached master bath (and Jacuzzi tub). Tommy wants a Macbook Pro. Uncle Bill has a cold. Aunt Janice lost her job. Oh, and please save all the lost people we know.

Then we tip God on Sunday or hope to rub Him right by flicking a coin into the Salvation Army coffer and, POOF! like a magic genie, He makes our wishes come true. Put this cycle on repeat for 30 years and you’ve got the average “Christian” life in America.

That’s a sad resume to hand Christ when He returns.

Your “Suffering” is Actually Sanctification

A common theme when living the American Christian life is the “struggle” of those really “hard times.”

In reality, we aren’t suffering but we think we are and we aren’t living the Christian life the way it was intended but we think we are! Trials are one thing (plenty of us go through those). James 1:2 refers to those sort of things that come upon us that are out of our control. Heart-breaking things like cancer, the loss of a child, betrayal. But suffering for the gospel? Not unless we received those things as a consequence of standing for the gospel. This is much more the exception than the norm in our country today.

Even on our best day, American Christians can seem to do no better than get fired, be called names, have their house vandalized, or be cut off by family members because of their “over-zealous” faith. There’s no argument that can prove we should all die a martyr’s death – that’s not realistic or how God destined every believer to die. But it can be argued that all Christians should be living dangerously and boldly for their faith. For Americans, that doesn’t mean much but we’ve got to do a better job risking comfort for our faith.

Yet, we act like martyrs because we got blocked on Facebook or lost a few big tithers by preaching something “too strong” from the pulpit. We consider it suffering when we have to rent luxury apartments because our mortgage application was denied, or because our car had an engine leak during the same week that our boyfriend broke up with us.

What’s wrong with this picture? The plain fact that much of what we view as suffering is really just basic sanctification. The Lord prunes us of our petty need for superficial comforts and teaches us that we need more of Him. That includes living for Him and pursuing Him more than anything else.

So when’s the last time you’ve walked the line with a boss because you’ve read your bible publicly on lunch break? When’s the last time you calmly and kindly shared the gospel at a family function and got scoffed at or uninvited to the next holiday? When’s the last time you didn’t tell your kids to “tone it down” when they were threatened expulsion for sharing their faith at school?

People are watching us Christians. God is sanctifying your heart, aligning your priorities, and setting you up to do more for His glory than your own. You’re not suffering. You’re being sanctified for a higher purpose.

The Blood-Stained Dust You Stand On

Christ shed His blood in death then rose again so the church might live.  The apostles died horrific deaths yet claimed that in their suffering they were never more like their Savior. The generations that followed sang praises as they were burnt at the stake. Reformers defied the Pope and powerful kings in allegiance to the King of kings. Today, our brothers and sisters around the world are beheaded for standing up for Christ.

During the 1500’s Algerius the martyr was burned by the Pope because he refused to waiver in his zeal for the true gospel. Algerius would not compromise no matter what the cost! In a letter he wrote to his friends before his death he sounds insanely countercultural as he rejoices in his sufferings. He writes:

            Dear Friends,

            I cannot omit this opportunity of letting you know the sincere pleasure I feel in my confinement: to suffer for Christ is delectable indeed; to undergo a little transitory pain in this world, for his sake, is cheaply purchasing a reversion of eternal glory, in a life that is ever-lasting. Hence I have found honey in the entrails of a lion; a paradise in prison; tranquility in the house of sorrow: where others weep, I rejoice; where others tremble and faint, I find strength and courage. The Almighty confers these favours on me; be his the glory and praise. How different do I find myself from what I was before I embraced the truth in its purity! I was then dark, doubtful, and in dread; I am now enlightened, certain, and full of joy. He that was far from me, is present with me; he comforts my spirits, heals my grief, strengthens my mind, refreshes my heart, and fortifies my soul. Learn, therefore, how merciful and amiable the Lord is, who supports his servants under temptations, expels their sorrows, lightens their afflictions, and even visits them with his glorious presence in the gloom of a dismal dungeon.

Your sincere friend,

  “Algerius.”

Guard your heart and mind from tuning out the words of a martyr because you wish to cower from facing your greatest fears or abandoning your comfort zone. You were meant to live for more than a 401(k) and a country club membership in retirement.

Stop Wasting Your Life

If you count the hours spent scrolling Pinterest, trying to get ahead at work, worrying about the future, doubting God, complaining about church events, procrastinating over going to small group, gossiping, drinking, watching Netflix, comparing yourself to people on your Facebook newsfeed, and watching Youtube you’ll find one one very sobering fact.

You are wasting your life, Christian.

So wake up from your sleeping, call Christ Lord, shake off the dust of complacency, and step into the fullness of your calling. There is no time to waste – your legacy for the glory of God awaits. Why not exhaust yourself on earth for something that will give you eternal rest?

Wherever this week takes you, take a risk and do something bold for Christ. Say goodbye to the comfort of American Christianity.


Recommended Reading: Foxe’s Book of Martyrs (Originally published on March 20th, 1563). 

Posted by Costi Hinn

Costi is the Pastor of Adult Ministries at Mission Bible Church in Orange County, CA. Costi is married to the love of his life Christyne, and has two children. You can follow him on Twitter @costiwhinn.

4 Comments

  1. Costi,
    The Gospel agrees with the sentiment but not the method. Tit 1:1 Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ to further the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth that leads to godliness. Here we see it is the acknowledgement of truth or knowledge of truth that leads to godliness – godly decisions, godly behavior, godly actions, godly relationships and all that the church is striving for – that every true believer wants – starts with the knowledge of truth. It is the knowledge of truth which brings about true believing, and true believing brings about right behavior – or as stated in Titus – godliness. One of the things which religion has incorrectly taught to the masses, inside and outside of the church is, God only cares about your behavior, and godliness accords with your devotion, or your actions, or your prayer life, or your church attendance, or your bible study. Now – is there benefit to attending church – reading your bible – in devotion, in your actions, or your prayer life, your volunteer works, or any works of goodness? Yes, of course. However, none of the aforementioned will mend a broken heart, or put a marriage back together, or correct children who have gone astray, or take away worry or anxiety in the heart, or heal addictions or cancer or bring about miraculous results. General morality does not save and the concern is, the teaching to the church has turned the fruit into the root and the result into the cause. Can you see how this can be confusing for the average Christian? The Gospel is not about morality, it is not about right living, it is not about doing good, the gospel is about believing, having faith in Jesus and because of your faith in the Savior, you are now made righteous and all the blessings of God are freely yours to be received and enjoyed by the believer – because what Christ inherits you now possess. That is the good news – and understand, even when you fail, even when you sin, even in your struggles with an addiction or bad habit – Jesus Christ died for hypocrites, loves the addicted, heals the sick and sinful, prospers the failed, all can receive who believe. Titus 2:11-13:For the grace of God has appeared (which means manifest visibly – How can the grace of God manifest itself visibly? Grace is a person not a teaching or doctrine – Grace is Jesus Christ. In the beginning there was the word and the word was made flesh) that offers salvation to all people.It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ. So even though you cannot find the words covenant of Grace – what you will find is that the law was given to Moses and Grace and Truth came by Jesus Christ. The old covenant is contrasted with new covenant – you are no longer under the law and Jesus is the mediator of the new covenant and because we are in Christ and Christ in us we are under the new covenant of Grace. Jesus is the one who will give what we do not deserve. So what teaches us to say no to ungodliness? To live a Christian life, righteously, soberly, and upright? Grace – yes, Grace. And notice the verse states, “this present age”: Grace has appeared teaching and is what is teaching us in the present age – if you teach that the law is teaching us, you have incorrectly gone into a past age – and if you mix Grace and the law – you are mixing past and present ages. So it is correct to rightly divide the word from OT to NT, it is correct to discern what is for the Jew, the Gentile, and the Church. It is error to mix these things because it brings about confusion in the church and the poor believer is left questioning their salvation and their standing with God. When pastors place the demand back on the person – and the person fails – they become frustrated, they become disillusioned, and in many cases leave the church system because they believe they can never live up to the standard of God. But look at the message in Titus 2 – the believer is taught by Grace, to rest in Jesus and wait – rest and wait – for His return – for a distinct age – where the Church will return with Jesus and the land will be given to the Jews and we will reign for 1000 years. Rest and wait. Eph 2:4-9 But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. Notice: “Ages to come” – This is a marked period of time, a distinct time which is different that the present age or the past age. Again the Gospel has division for things to occur in their own time – these things cannot be mixed. So in the present age the Church is the object of His Grace, but in the “ages to come” the future of Jesus’ theocratic rule in the millennial kingdom in Jerusalem where Israel will be an exalted nation over the nations of the earth. This is the future. Colossians 1:25-27: I became a minister according to the stewardship (dispensation) from God which was given to me for you, to fulfill the word of God, the mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations, but now has been revealed to His saints.To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. So what was the great mystery for the Church? Christ is in us now. Prior to this age – before the cross, Jesus never resided in anyone – today He resides in the believer and the believer in Him. The Holy Spirit came upon man in the OT but never dwelled in man until after the cross. This was the great mystery for the Church, that until the sacrifice the Holy Spirit could not abide in man because man’s sins were atoned by the blood of animal sacrifice – but through the sacrifice of Jesus, the believer is cleaned so perfectly and is so pure in the eyes of God that the Holy Spirit can dwell in us – hence – Jesus is in us and we are in Jesus. Believers, never doubt your holiness before God – because He does not doubt you! This message was hidden in the ages past. Hebrews 1:1 God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high. Here we are taught another division of time, “times past” and “these last days”. These cannot be mixed. In past times, before the cross, prophets spoke to the fathers – the Nation of Israel. When Jesus was on earth and after the cross – His Gospel speaks to us. So those who profess to be prophets should be rebuked because we are spoken to by the Son of God, not the prophets. Why? Because we are in the present age which are these last days. And what is spoken in these last days is the revelation of a person, His Son, Christ Jesus. In times past the revelation to man from God was the revelation of the law, of standards, traditions, direction – not about a person but about things. The law is a thing – Jesus is a person. These cannot be mixed – because the revelation is about a person and not about a thing. Also see the difference in the way God spoke in times past as contrasted to these last days. This is very different. So Christians should not reference times past and wrongly believe that God is angry with you, God is punishing you, God is demanding of you, God is dissapointed in your lack of obedience – Christians wrongly believe this because pastors are teaching from times past, they are mixing what was meant for a different group of people and applying it incorrectly to the Church in the present age in these last days. So please get the revelation of times past and the revelation of the person who is Grace in these last days. Romans 5:12 Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned—(For until the law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who had not sinned according to the likeness of the transgression of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come. But the free gift is not like the offense. For if by the one man’s offense many died, much more the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abounded to many. And the gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned. For the judgment which came from one offense resulted in condemnation, but the free gift which came from many offenses resulted in justification. For if by the one man’s offense death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.) Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life. So from the beginning of man – Adam until Moses in Exodus 24, there was no law. Therefore, sin was not imputed (assigned, credited, placed on, charged with) to man until the law was given to Moses. From Moses to Jesus some 1500 years where sin was imputed to man – man needed to confess, man needed to repent and man and the Nation of Israel offered animal sacrifices to atone (cover) their sin. This was in times past and not the present age in these last days. After the cross – after man was justified by the death of Jesus Christ through the FREE gift which is not like the offense made the believer in Christ righteous before God. We know that the righteous are not under the law and the Christ fulfilled the law for us. Therefore, since we are no longer under the law – God is not imputing sin to the believer – you are washed so perfectly clean and pure by the blood of Jesus long before you were born and it washes you forever. We are blessed not because we do not sin, but because when we sin, it is not counted against us. So what keeps the believer from not sinning and running amok? Go back to Titus 1 – it is the believers knowledge of the truth which leads to godliness. It is the truth which sets you free – it is the truth, not works, which mends broken hearts, restores marriages, restores lost years, conquers addictions, and produces good works. The truth with is Grace which is Jesus Christ. John 1:17 For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. So from Moses to Jesus was the law – a distinct period of time then it was over – now – from Jesus until His return is grace and truth in this present age in these last days. These period of time cannot be mixed. So when does the present age end? 1 Thessalonians 4:15 For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.Therefore comfort one another with these words. This is the time of the rapture prior to the 7 years of tribulation where the Church is called up into the air by Jesus – we will be given our glorified bodies and we will spend those 7 years in heaven waiting for the return – we will be prepared for our wedding to Jesus and will return to reign with not be subject to Jesus for 1000 years. At the time of the rapture ends the present age in these final days. God has a program for history and God is working out His plan through very distinct time periods. Once a time period is over a new distinct period of time begins and that which is past no longer applies to what is present (rightly dividing the word because God has divided it for us) In each distinct time period there is a distinct purpose – they never merge – they never overlap – they never mingle. The Gospel stands – Jesus Christ blesses sinners, Jesus administers grace freely – meaning it is unearned, undeserved favor, that it is Jesus’ obedience, not ours, which reconciled us back to God and brought us out from under the law – that stands in light of the scripture – the truth that all your sins are forgiven by the shed blood of Christ, the truth that you will never be judged, held liable or condemned for your sin stands in scripture – it is the pure truth of the scripture. The reason for the confusion is that many who teach mix the distinct segments of time with one another and cause confusion in the Church. So instead of Titus 1 which tells us we are taught by Grace in this present age – we reach back into times past and bring the teaching of the law incorrectly into the Church in order to live right or we reach into the future and teach about the Kingdom in the present age and label it kingdom living – again this is error. When the Gospel speaks of the age of Gentiles it is referring to the Gentile governments from the time of the rejection of the Kingdom of Heaven until the return of Jesus when He dethrones the Gentile rulers and takes His rightful place on the throne of King David. We do not do this for Jesus – Jesus takes the throne and rules the world for us. You cant mix this without creating confusion. 2 Peter 1:12-16 For this reason I will not be negligent to remind you always of these things, though you know and are established in the present truth. Yes, I think it is right, as long as I am in this tent, to stir you up by reminding you, knowing that shortly I must put off my tent, just as our Lord Jesus Christ showed me. Moreover I will be careful to ensure that you always have a reminder of these things after my decease.For we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty. So we preach in the present truth as Peter states – if I do not remind you I am negligent. – The present truth is that Grace teaches – the truth the God has made His own righteousness available to the sinner, because of Jesus’ obedience. The good news that Jesus, heals, justifies, prospers, delivers, protects, restores and every other blessing is given freely by Grace and all the believer needs to do is rest in what Jesus has done and wait for Jesus’ return. And while you wait and rest the Holy Spirit through the teaching of Grace transforms you. As you rest God blesses you – as you wait the hope purifies you – your needs are met, your family is cared for, He takes care of your heart, your emotions, troubles, worries – and any good works you produce is through the fruit of the relationship and not by your own 12 step self efforts. The results of what God does for you today is the benefit of what Jesus did for you on the cross almost 2000 years ago. Believers, reap the benefit – so if you need healing – know God has already healed you at the cross – take the healing because it has already been paid for. So the free gift of Grace which teaches us in truth transforms us and makes us lovers of God who loved us first from the foundation and those who love God more will love sin less – this is the transformation of the Christian. The world tells you to be good – but the believer says Grace transformed us – self works or servitude does not produce ethics, morality, social reform or service – these things are fruits of the transformation through the teaching of Grace which is the Gospel of Christ Jesus. John 13:3 Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come from God and was going to God. Remember, you, the believer, are co-heir with Christ – the blessing is yours in Christ – what He has you have. What does He have? All things in His hands – so do you. But what about your sin, your lack of action, your perceived lack of action for the faith, your laziness, not risking your relationships or your life for the Gospel? Remember, those hands were nailed to the cross and judgement was rendered and the payment exacted – AT the cross. The revelation is: Jesus knows who He is, where He is from, what He is to do, where He is going, and what His destiny is in the future: Jesus serves. When a Christian knows all that they have through faith in Jesus, their forgiveness, their righteous standing, their Holiness before God, their purity through the shed blood, their destiny in the rapture, the marriage to Jesus, and the return as co-heir to reign in Christ and that we are justified in all things – then Christians serve – this is not a demand it is a fruit – so before we jump into the deep end of the pool of service before we know how to swim – demand – we need to know who we are in Christ – and when we know we will serve as a fruit of that relationship with the Father in His time, not our time as a fruit not a demand. Acts 13:38 Therefore let it be known to you, brethren, that through this Man is preached to you the forgiveness of sins; and by Him everyone who believes is justified from all things from which you could not be justified by the law of Moses. Ephesians 1:10
    that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth—in Him. In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will, that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory. Here we see that there will be a time – during the millennial rule where the Church and the Jewish Nation of Israel will come together in the glory of Christ Jesus. We also see the Church as a predestined purpose – do you believe in destiny? The Church should because Jesus as a predestined purpose for the Church – we are the praise of His glory as His bride. So, while many preach to go out and change the world – the Gospel tells us to rest and wait on the rapture. Please – I’m not saying do not spread the Gospel – but it is how do we get there from here? Clearly not by demand – not by self works – not by putting yourself at risk – the Gospel of grace and truth through Christ Jesus is NOT teaching us that. Through resting and waiting the teaching of Grace produces a supernatural service which is not demand but a fruit of the teaching by the Spirit. So, yes I agree with you that Christianity is so easy that anyone can do it – through faith in Jesus Christ who is Grace – who teaches us in this age that the path to godly living is the truth of the Gospel for this age. It is not berating those who are perceived as lazy or safe Christians who seeming do not serve – it is not chastising them into self works – but rather by revealing who they are in Christ Jesus and that they to have all things in their hands which has been judged at the cross forever. Christians are righteous by faith, forgiven, sin is not being counted against you, you are pure in all things, loved by the Father, washed clean by the blood – pure as the fallen snow and the fruit of your relationship is good works and service – that is who you are. No matter what the world tells you.

    Amen
    Rabbi J. Arnn
    Jewish Studies for Christians

    Reply

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