Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Am I Really a Christian?

In December I began reading the Bible and this morning I finished my journey. From Genesis to Revelation in 104 days. In my Bible that’s 1,259 pages, so I’ve been pretty immersed in God’s Word for the last three and half months, and it has been awesome, and life changing and a big wake up call. Here are a few treasures:
  • God is repeatedly saying, “I love you, I love, you, I love you. Please love me back!” This is the number one theme in the Bible.
  • God wants us to love each other. Over and over (and over and over) he tells us to care for the poor, widows and orphans.
  • Social justice is a big deal to God.
  • The mule has nothing on us when it comes to stubborn. We are stubborn, self-centered, and oh so cruel to each other.
While reading the Bible I was able to squeeze in a couple more (regular sized!) books (did I mention I started getting up at 5:00 a.m.? Yeah, that was God getting me out of bed each morning). I read Barefoot Church: Serving the Least in a Consumer Culture by Brandon Hatmaker and also the book 7, an Experimental Mutiny Against Excess by Jen Hatmaker (Brandon’s wife). I warn you do not read these unless you want to change how you live. These are both “call to action” books, and you will not walk away from them unchanged.

Do you think it’s interesting that while reading the Bible and absorbing its overwhelming message to love God, love each other, take care of the poor and seek social justice, I would just happen to read two books that cover the exact same message but in a modern setting? I didn’t plan that. It “just happened.”

Warning #1 – Stop Reading Now if You Don’t Want to Squirm a Bit. Here are a few of the things God has to say about the poor.

  • He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the alien, giving him food and clothing. Deuteronomy 10:18
  • If there is a poor man among your brothers in any of the towns of the land that the Lord your God is giving you, do not be hardhearted or tightfisted toward your poor brother. Rather be openhanded and freely lend him whatever he needs. Deuteronomy 15:7-8
  • Then Jesus said to his host, "When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed." Luke 14:12-14
  • Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. James 1:27
  • If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. 1 John 3:17-18
Warning #2 – Some Words From God About Social Justice

  • The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed,  a stronghold in times of trouble. Psalm 9:9
  • Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless; maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed. Psalm 82:3
  • Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy. Proverbs 31:8-9
  • Seek justice, encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow. Isaiah 1:17
  • He defended the cause of the poor and needy, and so all went well. "Is that not what it means to know me?" declares the Lord. Jeremiah 22:16
  • He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:8
  • Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow's cause. Isaiah 1:17
In her book 7, an Experimental Mutiny Against Excess, Jen Hatmaker says,

  • While the richest people on earth pray to get richer, the rest of the world begs for intervention with their faces pressed to the windows, watching us drink our coffee, unruffled by their suffering. (Note from Shawna: Those rich people she's talking about - that's us. If you make $50,000 a year, you reside in the top one percent of wealth in the world).
  • If the modern church held to its biblical definition, we would become the answer to all that ails society.
  • We made it acceptable for people to do nothing and still call themselves Christians.
  • The church the Bible described is exciting and adventurous and wrought with sacrifice. It cost believers everything, and they still came. It was good news to the poor and stumped its enemies.
So here’s my question - If I’m not seeking justice and helping the poor, am I really a Christian?

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