Jesus Christ Is Lord

That every knee should bow and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father!

Do Something in Your Life That Doesn’t Make Sense to Pagans

Posted by Job on February 28, 2008

From Sharper Iron by Jason Janz at 1:00 am February 27, 2008. 344 views. Filed under: Uncategorized
Author’s Note: For the past nine months, I have been consumed with the vision of planting a church in downtown Denver. This vision has called me and my family to a life of travel, a part-time job, and constant change. As the owner of SI, I have felt detached from the site I started almost three years ago. I appreciate the crew that has pinch-hit for me. For the next week, I’d like to update you on what God has been showing me over the past nine months. I will do so by publishing some articles that I wrote for our prayer partners.In his 1931 book, The Epic of America, James Truslow Adams said, “If, as I have said, the things already listed were all we had to contribute, America would have made no distinctive and unique gift to mankind. But there has been also the American dream, that dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for every man, with opportunity for each according to his ability or achievement.” The American Dream has permeated this nation, but it has also spilled across the oceans to all nations of the world. Everyone understands the American Dream, and he pursues it with all his might. While we are familiar with seeing images of desperate Cubans endeavoring to land makeshift rafts on the beaches of Florida in their pursuit of this dream, many Americans are no different. They just look better in the pursuit. But under the cover of well-clothed, well-educated, well-cared-for Americans is a relentless pursuit of the same idea—a better, richer, fuller life than what I am currently experiencing. The pursuit leaves every player exasperated for one simple reason—it’s not the way God intended us to live.

God gives us strong admonitions to live for another world, another country. Our mode of operation is to be that of a pilgrim, not a consumer. When pagans compare our lives to theirs, we should look like idiots in their eyes. But I’m afraid most of the time we look pretty normal. We should have different economic strategies (kingdom giving), different time schedules (acts of mercy; times of personal, family, and corporate worship), different family priorities (parenting God’s way, time together), and different pursuits (kingdom of God, glory of God, people of God). However, I’m afraid that when the lives of most Christians are examined, they make complete sense to the average pagan. Materially, we have houses, cars, retirement plans, and five kinds of insurance so that we can have “risk-free” living. When it comes to our time, we spend more time having fun than serving the poor. We spend more time playing with our toys than meeting as believers, provoking one another to love and good works. I’m afraid that our diversions have become our delight in America. When it comes to what we live for, I’m afraid we display Babylonian desires for the latest and greatest . . . just like the pagans.

This thought has rolled around a lot in my mind mainly because of the reaction that I get from many Christians when they hear about our vision to plant a church in perhaps the darkest area of our city. On one hand, I’ve had very good friends wrinkle their noses when they hear that we are moving to the Five Points Neighborhood, the second-highest crime neighborhood in the city. I’m not sure of all the reasoning behind the wrinkle. It could be their own distaste for the area. It could be that our burden just doesn’t make sense. Or could it be that my life never really echoed a life that was willing to risk for the sake of the gospel? Did this decision seem out of step with my self-preserving bent? I don’t know. I just know that it’s time to repent of my self-serving ways and do something in my life that doesn’t make sense to pagans or . . . the average Christian . . . or perhaps even me. Without knowing it, I have often drunk at the fountain of the American Dream.

Am I scared? Absolutely. I do not want my home broken into. I do not want my kids hurt. My wife and I were on a plane flying to Orlando when I read a story in Christianity Today about a wife who did just what we are hoping to do in the city. On night she was raped while her husband was at a church meeting. (You can get her book here.) That stuff scares me to death.

On the back cover of John Piper’s book Don’t Waste Your Life, he says,

I will tell you what a tragedy is. I will show you how to waste your life. Consider this story from the February 1998 Reader’s Digest: A couple “took early retirement from their jobs in the Northeast five years ago when he was 59 and she was 51. Now they live in Punta Gorda, Florida, where they cruise on their 30-foot trawler, play softball, and collect shells …” Picture them before Christ at the great day of judgment: ‘Look, Lord. See my shells.” That is a tragedy.

Sadly, this type of wasted life is seen all over the Scriptures. When the twelve spies went to look at Canaan, ten of them shrank in fear even though God had already promised victory. Thousands of people wasted their lives because they valued comfort over godly courage. The Scriptures tell us that when a kernel of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it yields fruit unto life eternal. We don’t need more life in America; we need more death.

I want to encourage you to take a risk for the cause of Christ. Start some things only God can finish. Go somewhere where you don’t have all the answers before you begin—not for the sake of danger or to be viewed as heroic, but for the sake of the gospel and the glory of God.

  • Teenager, can you think of pursuing something greater this year than academic honors or a starting position? What about starting a ministry from scratch to minister to those in your school or community who need help?
  • College student, what about changing your major and ministry direction to go and be a missionary to a Muslim country where you face the real danger of being killed for your faith? That choice doesn’t make sense to pagans.
  • Moms, can you think of ways to stretch your children to do something that pagans wouldn’t think a child could do?
  • Dads, what about taking a missions trip instead of a family vacation? What about quitting your job, taking a pay cut, and going to work for a nonprofit organization that is doing the work of God?
  • Pastors, would your congregation say that you are risking something for the sake of the gospel in your community?
  • Retirees, are you using the best years of your life for the glory and work of God?

Someone once said that five minutes after stepping into heaven, we will know exactly how we were supposed to live. I know this—if we simply pursue the American Dream, we will hang our heads in shame. However, if we “fall into the ground and die,” we can anticipate a joyful entrance.

Jason Janz, SharperIron site publisher, is planting Providence Bible Church in downtown Denver. Formerly, he served as an assistant pastor at Red Rocks Baptist Church (Morrison, CO). He has a bachelor’s degree in Bible and is currently finishing a master’s degree in theology. He has been married to Jennifer for 10 years, and they have four boys. His interests include pastoring, reading, and wrestling with his boys. He likes SI because of how it helps serve pastors and church leaders.
If you would like to receive the Providence Bible Church e-newsletter or would like to be a prayer partner, you can sign up at www.providencedenver.org.

Advertisements

One Response to “Do Something in Your Life That Doesn’t Make Sense to Pagans”

  1. […] 22, 2008 I would like to draw your attention to these articles: Do Something In Your Life That Doesn’t Make Sense To Pagans, […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

 
%d bloggers like this: