In Asian countries believers in Jesus Christ face hardship every day. Every day they are faced with the potential loss of home, family, freedom and their very life. And yet they still continue to meet together with their fellow believers to worship. They travel, often on foot and in the middle of the night, many miles just to meet with others. They spend their time not praying for a release from the relentless persecution they face, rather they spend their time worshiping, truly worshiping Jesus. Praising Him for who He is, for what He has done. They have an uncanny grasp on who Jesus really is.
A grasp it seems most people of European descent, which includes the country I’m proud to call home, lack. It’s not that we think Jesus is less than God, we know He is very God and very man. But we’ve made Him a god in our own likeness.
My husband told me a quote he heard,
“God made man in His likeness,
And man returned the favor.”
Now that might be true for Americans, but I doubt it’s true for all Americans or even all Christians worldwide. But it does bear pondering.
David Platt in his book, The Radical Question, says,
“But do you and I realize what we are doing at this point? We are molding Jesus into our image and making Him look like us. And the danger now is that when we gather to sing and lift our hands in worship, we are not actually worshiping the Jesus of the Bible. Instead, we are worshiping ourselves.”
His question then is, “What is Jesus worth to us? To you?” What are we willing to give up for the cause of Christ? Would we willing give up our multi-million dollar churches? Our homes? Our cars? Our weekly dinners out? Our Starbucks? Our designer clothes? Are we willing to live in the land and lap of luxury and not crave our slice of the American pie? Can we live trying to keep up with the Joneses only not materially but spiritually? Can we look at someone living life sold out to Jesus Christ and say, “I want that! Only I want more than what they have!” ? Can we?
This book was very convicting. It was also what I had been thinking and pondering in my own life lately. I don’t want to settle for mediocre Christianity. I want to dive in. I want to be immersed in Jesus.
There was only a couple of things I didn’t care for in the book. I am really about sick to death of Christians trying to guilt trip American believers. God placed each one of us in America for a reason. He could have placed us in Asia or the Middle East or Africa. But He, in His infinite wisdom set us here. Our boundaries are the borders of the United States of America. But our influence reaches world wide. Yes, I am blessed. Yes, compared to most of the rest of the world I am rich beyond compare. But it is because God and His grace, His plan and not my doing.
The other thing, yes we are commanded to help the poor. Why do we think the poor are only those lacking vast financial resources? What about the rich business man who is poor emotionally? Or spiritually? Are we not to care for and help those as well?
Why do we equate helping with giving a hand-out? Look at all the aid the USA has provided both at home and abroad, have we wiped out poverty? Have we made anyone rich with our handouts? No. In fact, I might dare go on to say, we’ve made the problem worse. The way to help the poor is not to give them a handout, but a hand UP. Even for those in the church.
It is one thing to help financially when someone’s needs exceed their income at that time. It is another thing to enable someone to not work for their living, to not work for and earn everything they have. The Bible very clearly states, “if a man does not work, he won’t eat.” (yes, that is my paraphrase.)
So while we are running around handing out money hand over fist to those we think are poor, we are completely ignoring their real need. Which is Jesus. Money does not heal all wounds. Those poor are not just lacking finances.
Of course before we can see Jesus as the true answer to their needs, we have to realize He is the true answer to our needs as well.
(I received a free copy of this book from the publisher for the purpose of review.)