Army

PAUPER CHRISTIAN

Fired Hired Sign

“I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians.   Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” – Ghandi

Growing up, my mom always taught me not to use the word ‘hate’.  She would caution, “hate is such a strong, harsh, and unforgiving word…”  Bumper-to-bumper traffic, windshield wipers on overdrive, music off, with both hands on the steering wheel; ten-and-two.  Every thing inside me cringes at the thought of having to drive through Dallas in a storm.  And with all that it implies, I can honestly say that I hate driving in the rain.

A few weeks ago, while turning onto a residential street in Dallas, my reaction time was put to the test.  He came out of nowhere, in the middle of down-pour, and in front of my car…brake-check…they worked.  I missed him by what seemed like inches. I felt absolutely terrible.  As I rolled down my window to make sure he was okay, a very startled, elderly homeless man smiled and waved. He was carrying a bundle of clothes, and was wearing a tattered, white t-shirt. Ironically enough, the back of his shirt read, “Living The Dream.”  Who in their right mind would give a homeless man such a thing.  Was this some mean, practical joke?

I couldn’t help but think to myself: What an incredible visual aid. To some, this is what Christians must look like when we don’t walk in the authority and freedom we’ve been given.  Their picture of Jesus is nothing more than a Pauper Christian.

We sit in our cardboard boxes built of competition, depression, and shallow legalism.  We aimlessly walk around without a home, with grocery carts full of trash, in pauper clothing.  Carrying bitterness, ruining relationships, swimming in debt, cheating our neighbors, and drowning in emotional poverty. The world looks at us like we’re a practical joke. Why would they want our lives? What about a homeless man on the street looks appealing?  We promote Jesus like He’s the fix-all, end-all, solution-to-all.  We say one thing, but represent another.  Surely, we didn’t start out this way.  How did we get here? Why is our fruit so different from Christ’s?

I dare say that the problem isn’t God; it’s us.  Somehow, we’ve lost sight of who we are in Christ, forgotten His irreplaceable Love, neglected our place on earth, and abandoned our role in society.

And we aren’t fooling anyone.  You see, our generation is unlike any other. This generation doesn’t give into fake.  We struggle selling something that we won’t buy ourselves. We spend over 23% of our time interacting on “social” media. We want to be real.  To sum it up, our generation is relational.  Sure, you could say that we’ve lost our edge.  Ruined our reputation. Tainted the church. We’re more often the excuse instead of the example. The list goes on and on about how ‘Christians” have misrepresented Christ.

The good news is that Jesus can still get to hearts without our help.  And, I believe that there is a remnant arising. It’s not too late.  There is hope!  There is an army that yearns to represent Jesus Christ in every aspect of their lives: At home, amongst friends, in the workplace, and to strangers.  We desperately desire that everything about our life mirrors Christ for every thing that He is.  We want to walk in all that Christ has bought and made provision for.  We want to be like Him.  We desire to make His Name great in the earth.

When we keep our eyes on Christ, we can abide in unconditional Love, stand in freedom, and walk in authority.   So run to Jesus.  Throw off your pauper clothes. Rise above your present circumstances.  Stop wallowing in self-pity.  Love lives within you.  Look to Him for validation.  You were built to win.  You have a direct- line to Joy.  You were made to prosper.  Declare your freedom.  Change your perspective.  You were destined to reign.  You were made in His image. Your Daddy is King.

“By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.  Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.'” John 13:35, Matt 28:18-20

THE RIGHT TO REST

THE RIGHT TO REST

“In the spring, at the time when kings go off to war, David sent Joab out with the king’s men and the whole Israelite army.”    2 Samuel 11:1

Spring was a good time to go to war because the roads were dry, making travel easier for troop movement. David had just successfully defeated the Ammonites. But immediately following victory, David abandoned his purpose, passed off his responsibility, and stayed home to soak in the victory instead of being alongside his army in battle.

I’m sure David was simply enjoying the many luxuries of being king.  It seems as though he began to build security on his own strength. Forgetting that it was the Lord who enabled him to win in the first place. Instead of being forward thinking, He began to rely on his previous victory. His priorities were out of line, and he failed to face the next task at hand. While most of us think of David as a man with a worshiper’s heart and a warrior’s will; this story portrays him as someone entirely different.

Distraction comes easily if you aren’t focused on your purpose. And distraction precedes failure. I remember the first (and hopefully the last) time I played dodge ball. Six fellow peers of mine dragged me onto their team after realizing that they had to have at least one girl on their team in order to play. I told them I wasn’t too grand at sports, but they were convinced otherwise- and wow were they ever wrong.

I was a miserably pathetic throw and exhibited incredibly poor hand-eye coordination skills to boot. But, for a split second, I experienced my fair share of glory. Three or so minutes into the game, (The anxiety made it feel more like 40) one of the styrofoam balls was launched up in the air, luckily high enough so I could catch it. I caught it, everyone cheered, and my opponent was out. But, I was so overcome with the pride of my new found victory, that I failed to notice the second ball. Lethally headed in my direction. Being entirely distracted made me an easy target. And that was the end of my dodgeball career; just as soon as I had tasted victory; I was out.

I’ve since learned that looking back to soak on your victory too often will only distract you from the next challenge at hand. I don’t know of a time in the Bible where Jesus used his energy recalling all that He had done. He was always forward thinking. Looking for the next person to touch, heal, or save. He had bigger fish to fry than to use his valuable time thinking, praying, or addressing the past. He was always in the Spirit, always in warfare, always on call, accessible, and ready.

“One evening, David got up from his bed and walked around the roof…and saw a woman bathing. David sent someone out to find her…she came to him and he slept with her.” 2 Samuel 11:2-4

Like me, in light of victory, David had let his guard down. I’m sure he did indeed deserve some R&R. After all, he’d served diligently, patiently, and  faithfully all those years. He’d single-handedly killed the giant, destroyed opposing armies, and remained in communion with God. So, hadn’t he earned it?

We mustn’t depend on our past victories to pull us through tomorrow’s challenges, we still have to face them. Every war has a price.  Anytime you lose sight of your mission, you can rest assured that distraction is lying on the next rooftop.  Opportunity is always knocking, and if you don’t have a worthwhile cause to obtain your focus, your own desires will overcome your purpose.

You see, this snowball effect began as a decision; to fight, or not to fight. Never underestimate what hiding from your battles will cost. No matter how great the recent victory is, we should never feel entitled to lay aside our weapons. A friend of mine put it this way “As Christians, we shouldn’t ever feel as though we have the right to rest spiritually.” We can’t let up, give in, or back down. There’s a task that has been assigned to us. The moment we lose sight of it, we will fall, and eventually distraction will destroy us.

If you feel as though you’ve lost sight of your purpose, don’t worry! David blew it- royally at that. Yet, he turned his life around and we still speak of him today. God will honor a man who returns. It’s never too late to come back.

So, let’s face tomorrow. Let’s kick the crud out of our lives. Let’s become so overwhelmingly consumed with the God who loves us, and the task at hand, that distraction has no place in our lives. Contend; it’s what we’re born to do.

“The kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force.” Matthew 11:12