May 2014- What Does a Grateful Christian Look Like?
As a Senior Pastor I must say I have seen it all (at least until the next crazy thing). I do not focus on the crazy things as much as I do the trends I observe in the body of Christ. As one who has been a Pastor for 23 years I can say that the trends are not virtuous. What I have fought against in the church culture in America as a minister of the gospel continues to grow: immaturity and complacency. The American church has become in many ways ineffective and I believe the main problem is a lack of gratefulness concerning what Jesus actually did. We know those of the world have the opportunity to come to Jesus but have rejected him, and we know they are ungrateful of God:
Romans 1:21 “Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.”
The question is; why are Christians so ungrateful? The trend I see is not an indicator of thankfulness at all. Let’s see what Jesus said:
John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
Let’s examine this. What is it that Jesus really is teaching us through the most quoted passage in America.
1) God loves the world (in its fallen state).
2) He gave His only begotten Son (to pay the debt of each fallen individual).
3) That whosoever (anyone) believes in Him (will not suffer eternal damnation).
4) Those who receive Jesus are given life (eternal life in relationship and communion with almighty God).
I wonder if Christians really understand what it is that Jesus is saying. It would seem to me that the full illumination of this revealed revelation is not working in the Church in America. If a person really understands this, receives this, and experiences this, it is impossible to not have it affect and motivate. There is no way that a believer who has this revelation exposed deep in their soul and spirit could have no concern for the lost and the propagation of the Gospel. The American Church is largely filled with anemic Christians. We see weak, self-centered people who are offended by the very Word of God that they claim to embrace. The idea of being sold out for the work of the kingdom by the Word of God is seen as radical by many in the Churches.
I am thankful for the many Churches and preachers who are sold out however the trend is not good.
One has to ask; what does a sold out grateful Christian look like? The answer is found in the following passage:
Romans 16:3-4 “Greet Priscilla and Aquila my helpers in Christ Jesus: Who have for my life laid down their own necks: unto whom not only I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles.”
In my view this is one of the most important passages concerning loyalty and believer covenant there is. Priscilla and Aquila have a testimony in the eternal Word of God concerning their loyalty and understanding of what Jesus did for them, and that also motivated them toward honor of God’s men. The great Apostle Paul testifies of their faithfulness to God by expressing three things:
1) His helpers in his mission as an Apostle.
2) Their willingness to lay down their own necks for him. This speaks of being totally sold out to both the gospel and God’s delegated authority in the mission. Even unto death.
3) Their reputation by the works of their faithfulness to all the churches of the Gentiles.
What made them willing to act out their faith is such amazing selfless ways? It is easy to understand if you understand the Scriptures. What made Moses, Elijah, Isaiah, David, John the Baptist, Paul, Peter, Mary, Lydia (and the others) sold out for the Kingdom of God? Gratefulness!
King David expresses this:
Psalms 107:1 “O give thanks unto the LORD, for he is good: for his mercy endureth forever.”
The one thing that runs through every sold out believer is the understanding of how serious this fight is. If we really understand that we were on our way to Hell to weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth, and that Jesus by his mercy saved us from eternal agony, we would be changed in our thinking, motivation, maturity, loyalty, Kingdom work ethic, and effectiveness in the great commission:
Mark 16:15 “And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.”
Instead we have so many people in the churches today that are self-centered, who do not embrace loyalty to their pastor and his mission. There are many complainers who murmur about not having it their way, and so many who seem to desire their ears to be tickled.
What does a grateful Christian look like? Let me tell you:
1) Loves the Word of God.
2) Attitude to serve.
3) Selfless ambition.
4) Loyal to God and His Men.
5) Happily gives tithes & offerings above.
6) Risk taker for the Kingdom.
7) Willing to be persecuted for the Kingdom of God.
8) Shares the gospel.
9) Lives the gospel.
10) Committed to the church.
11) Loves the brethren.
12) Embraces challenge from the Scriptures.
13) Seeks wisdom.
14) Has forgiving heart (understand that they have been forgiven and gives same).
15) Sets affections primarily on things above.
This is a check list for us all. Let us all ask ourselves this important question;
Am I a grateful Christian? An honest answer to this is a matter of life and death.
2 Corinthians 2:14 “Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour of his knowledge by us in every place.”