Christian, Are You Doing Your Part?
Posted by Job on April 3, 2011
As hilarious as those scenes were, it is a chilling reminder of the same ideology or groupthink when the propagandists come along to cajole us into “doing our part” to “save the earth/environment”, to “support the war on terror”, to “fight racism and bigotry” or some other agenda or cause. When one considers that “Starship Troopers” did in fact depict a one world government in which the Christian worldview was conspicuously absent, one must wonder how closely true life comes to resembling art (although those who have seen this film would question it being “art” in any sense).
A superior, happier application of this idea is Christian living. Do not be deceived: whether you are young or old, small or great, rich or poor, male or female, regardless of race, ethnicity, nationality or status (prisoner, slave or free) in Christ Jesus you have a role. You have a duty. You have a calling. You have a vocation. Do not doubt this fact. Instead, read 1 Corinthians 12, which speaks of how the Holy Spirit in its sovereignty elects and equips Christians for service to God the Father, pray to God the Father in the Name of Jesus Christ concerning the nature and application of your calling, and go do it! Are you doing your part, Christian? If not, why not?
There is no excuse for inaction. For even if you do not know your specific gifts and calling, there are things that are clearly set forth in scripture that all Christians can do and should do. A list, by no means comprehensive, of these things are below.
1. All Christians must pray. We must submit ourselves to the sovereignty and will of God, and pray that God’s will be done on earth as it is in heaven, that we be kept from evil, that our sins be forgiven and that we forgive the sins of others, and all our needs would be met, and that the Name of God be glorified in a manner according to the Lord’s Prayer as taught to us by Jesus Christ. (Ignore the heretics who claim that this is an “Old Testament prayer” that is not for Christians, who should be “taking authority.”) Prayer is something that everyone in a Christian household can do, and should do. Prayer is the chief and foremost activity of the Christian, and those who do not participate in it and do so oft – indeed, without ceasing – are without excuse concerning this responsibility.
2. All Christians must study and meditate upon the Holy Scriptures. Over against the people that are diminishing the authority and importance of the Bible in favor of tradition, experience and private revelation, this is the second most important duty of the Christian. If nothing else, reading the Bible should inform us of how we should pray, why we should pray, and the contents of our prayers. The Bible also reveals the Godhead and His plan for creation to us, and instructs us as to our behavior: right from wrong. We cannot rely on others to teach the scriptures to us – though teachers certainly are important – but instead we must have the knowledge of and confidence in the Bible (according to meekness and humility of course) to evaluate our teachers against the scriptures and act accordingly. This is not mere reading as a rote, obligatory religious, or academic exercise and nor is it some mystical rite. Instead, reading the Bible and pondering its meaning and application is supposed to penetrate our thinking, actions and being so that it literally transforms those things. Reading the Bible and accepting what it says at face value is our chief line of defense against heresies, lies, temptations and worldly thinking.
3. All Christians must worship. The professed Christian who says that he loves God while refraining to oft worshiping Him is a liar (or spiritually immature). Or, that person is a presumptuous idolater. He is an idolater because he prefers the worship of a false god – himself – to the worship of the true God. And he is presumptuous because, like Satan when he tempted Jesus Christ, such a person wishes for God to serve and worship him instead of his own offering God His due. The Holy Spirit will give Christians a desire to exalt and glorify God on the basis of who He is, and will drive the Christian to God-honoring, reverent devoted worship. It is the duty of Christians to submit to the Holy Spirit’s work in this area. Worship must necessarily be offered to God in both corporate assemblies and in private.
4. All Christians must praise. In Romans 1:18-32 when Paul laid out the universal sin guiltiness of mankind, one of the charges was failing to give God thanks for all of the things that He had done. These things include but are not limited to His giving us the ability to thank Him in the first place by suffering us to exist and to have continued existence. So, if universal humanity has the obligation to show God thanks for all of His many blessings by offering acts of praise (and indeed every knee shall bow and tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, so He will receive this praise) and all those in Adam will be judged for their failure to offer such praise, how much more should those in Christ offer praise? Similar to worship, the person who says that he is a Christian and does not show gratitude to God for his mighty, loving gracious acts is either a liar or spiritually deficient. Also, praise must be reverent, God-honoring and devoted (sincere). As the Bible – especially the Psalms – contain a wealth of worship and praise, the one who pleads ignorance as an excuse for not offering them, or not offering them in an appropriate manner, is without excuse.
5. All Christians must fellowship. There is a prideful, rebellious mentality reminiscent of that of Korah – who led the insurrection against Moses – in these last days. Part of it is the self-styled experiential spirituality movement, and part of it is the rejection of authority that entered western culture along with its embrace of radical politics. Many use their bad experiences and the presence of bad churches to justify it, but many of these same people are willing to suffer many things – and more – in order to get an education, keep a job, maintain family and social relationships, be a fan of (often extremely decadent) celebrities and athletes, and any number of things towards fulfilling their worldly ambitions and expectations. If Christians cared as much about finding and supporting churches and pastors who strive to adhere to the New Testament standards (i.e. 1 and 2 Corinthians and 1 and 2 Timothy) many of the problems that drive Christians from fellowship would not exist. But make no mistake: Christians need to be taught and guided spiritually by an undershepherd. Christians need each other for accountability. Christians need to confess their sins to one another and help share each others’ joy, pain and burdens, and to pray for each other. Christians need to praise and worship together. Spiritually immature Christians need to fellowship with spiritually mature Christians to that they can emulate them and themselves advance to maturity. Spiritually mature Christians need the responsibility of being their brother’s keeper by mentoring spiritually immature Christians. Also, spiritually mature Christians must be together so that iron can sharpen iron. Further, Christian fellowship models the eternal fellowship among the Members of the Godhead. It is a tragedy when Christians decide to live in disobedience and faithlessness by either refraining from fellowship or by settling for un-Biblical fellowship.
6. All Christians must evangelize. Foremost, evangelism is a chief method of worship and praise, because in legitimate evangelism, we boldly (with meekness, humility and love) and truthfully (with grace) proclaim to unbelievers the awesome existence, power and nature of God (worship) and our testimony of how He graciously transformed us – both individually and the entire body – from death to life (praise). When one considers that evangelism is primarily done out of obedience and as a worship and praise activity, there is no justification for concerns over failing to produce converts for refraining to engage in this activity. Further, the Bible clearly declares that it is God who elects His church and the Holy Spirit who draws, convicts and regenerates unbelievers. So, the only concern is that Christians carry out this duty in a sincere, God-honoring Biblical fashion. The Christian can pray for sincerity, and resources abound for studying and learning God-honoring Biblical evangelism, including but not limited to studying the Bible examples in the gospels and Acts.
7. All Christians must rebuke and chastise. As stated earlier, we are our brother’s keeper. Now if it were a total stranger, or even our worst enemy, facing some dire emergency or doing something that could cause him severe injury or death (i.e. about to drink poison) in a natural sense, we would act immediately and with conviction. We would yell “don’t drink that!” and if need be, we would run up to that person and grab the bottle of drain cleaner from their hands! So, if we would do this for our enemy that is facing physical injury or death, what is the justification for refusing to do so when our brother is teetering on the edge of apostasy or spiritual apathy? Is apostasy or being lukewarm somehow less severe than a trip to the emergency room? If so, how? If our brother is in error, it is our duty to correct him, or to take action that would result in his correction, such as procuring witnesses and bringing said brother before the pastor for correction and discipline. Failing to do so is not love or tolerance, but instead is disobedience that dishonors a holy God.
8. All Christians must forgive and restore. As all Christians sin, all Christians need correction. Thus, we are to show the same forgiveness and willingness to restore a brother that we desire from Jesus Christ when we fall. It is not merely the duty of the pastor and staff to extend and show forgiveness and participate in the restoration process to the formerly errant brother that is penitent and asking for grace. It is the duty, the part of all Christians to build that brother up, and this includes opposing anyone – whether inside or outside the church – who would rise up to remind this brother of his transgressions. Jesus Christ is full of grace, and as members of the body of Christ, we must bear witness of this truth with our own behavior towards one another.
9. All Christians must confess sin and ask for forgiveness. The Christian who says that he does not sin is a liar. Until the day of our perfection comes when we are fully sanctified, completely transformed into Jesus Christ’s image, and will be kept from even the possibility of sin by the power of God, sin is a reality for the Christian. Denying this is either due to pride, or to ignorance that is the result of false teachings and the lack of Bible study. Now it is true that Jesus Christ dealt with the sins of the elect on the cross. However, sins of the Christian are still offenses against a holy God and must be dealt with. The Bible tells us that if the Christian confesses his sins, God can be counted on to forgive our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Now the New Testament rejects the existence of a human priesthood that we must confess our sins to in the place of Christ, who pronounces “penance”, and forgives us in Christ’s stead. Instead, sins against God should be confessed directly to God in Christ’s Name, and sins against man should be confessed to both God in Christ’s Name and to man. James 5:13-18 suggests that there are also times when sins should be confessed before the church assembly – or at least before the elders thereof – but one’s own Holy Spirit-driven conscience should guide those occasions. Confession and petition for forgiveness should be done because it shows that though we are redeemed, we are prideful and fully aware of how yet still we fail to meet God’s standards; how without God we have no hope of salvation; and how we are indeed aware of how God procured for us a great salvation, and are exceedingly grateful. Refusing to confess sin and ask for forgiveness is often evidence of the person that is too prideful to acknowledge these things; that is too prideful to abase himself before God because of his delusions concerning his own righteousness and dignity.
10. All Christians must testify. This has two purposes. First, it reminds us of what God has done for us. How often to the trials of life and the pleasures of the world work to choke this from our remembrance! So, we bear witness to what God has done as much for our own benefit – to force us to remember and be thankful! – as for others. Second, it is an act of praise, of giving thanks, for God’s many benefits. Further, legitimate, sincere testimonies (not exaggerations or idle boasting) before a world that rejects Jesus Christ and considers His gospel to be foolishness and being willing to endure the slings and arrows that inevitably result builds courage for other service, including but not limited to evangelism. Sharing testimonies among the brethren also strengthens faith and increases joy. Consider a testimony of how one resisted temptation: it gives hope to someone else that is suffering from the same issues! Also, testimonies concerning things that seem trivial or routine are excellent, for they remind us of so many things that we take for granted! I hear it said so often “If you don’t have a testimony, then there is something wrong with your spiritual life … you lack faith, good works or devotion!” When one considers that their mere continued existence is a powerful testimony in and of itself, you should be aware of just how presumptuous and erroneous that doctrine is! Have you just gone up to a person at random and said “It is a blessing from Jesus Christ just to be alive!”? If you haven’t, you should consider it. Who knows … you may be planting a seed that another Christian may come along and water down the line!
11. All Christians must share burdens. A huge problem in Christianity is the existence of “hierarchies.” Some Christians are esteemed – by others and often themselves – to be “special”, to be “better” than others. Some Christians are “super-saints” (supposedly) and others are just trudging along! Let it be known that each Christian is given a measure of faith by the Holy Spirit, and our duty is to be good stewards who bear fruit according to what we have been given. Our job is not to compete with each other, but rather to glorify God. What better way to remind us of this truth than to let other Christians know of our trials, tribulations, temptations, failings and shortcomings? It should not be the narcissistic navel-gazing so common in our contemporary culture, especially pop psychology is generally devoid of even a sense of human accountability, let alone being responsible to a holy God who is Judge. It isn’t done to make anyone “feel better about themselves” or to “justify themselves”, but instead it should be an activity with the purpose and effect of building one another up in the Lord. The alternative is allowing the shame, secrets, double standards, skeletons and hypocrisy pile up. That is a bad one indeed when the Bible states that the things done in secret will one day be put on display for all to see! This is not the same as confession, which should in most cases be done privately between the Christian and God. Instead, informing each other of our hurts, weaknesses, fears, shortcomings etc. – and doing so in a humble and wise manner – so that we can comfort, aid and pray for each other will serve to keep the (apparently) mightiest Christian humble, and give the humblest Christian an opportunity to be a servant.
12. All Christians must give. Tithe? Some say yes, some say no. But Christians must give to support God’s work. The chief reason is not to support God’s work itself, as God is the Lord of all and will make sure that His children will have the resources that they need to perform the work that He has decreed. Instead, we give because God commands us to. It is self-evidently obeying the clear mandate of the Bible just as the other 11 items are. Another issue: giving – and giving sacrificially – is a hedge against worldliness. It is a rejection of the desire to hoard, obtain wealth and be materialistic. Further, it rejects the idea that we must rely on money and on material things to provide our daily bread as opposed to relying on God. Note Jesus Christ’s parable of the man who decided to tear down his barns and build bigger barns for his large harvest. Jesus Christ did not even provide a lengthy explanation of the man’s error because it was assumed: he was putting his trust in wealth, and became prideful. And as the man in the parable discovered that “you can’t take it with you” then what was it truly worth anyway? And meaning of that parable was illustrated in real life when the rich young ruler, upon being told to give his wealth to the poor and follow Jesus Christ, refused because the rich young ruler saw “his help” as coming from his possessions and not the Lord! Every penny that we give is exercising just that much more faith that God will supply all of our needs. Every penny that we give is that much more of rejecting our worldly desires – the appetites of the flesh – in favor of spiritual riches in Christ Jesus. The widow who gave all she had? It was not merely evidence of her generosity and piety. Instead, the widow had the faith that it would be God who would provide her next meal and not her two mites! And that reminds us of the widow from the time of Elijah. Elijah told the widow to first give her last meal – everything she had – to him! When she heeded the word of the prophet, it was on faith that God would provide! If Christians knew the true purpose of giving, then the tithe would be a floor and not a ceiling. It isn’t some crass exercise in attempting to buy yourself a crown in heaven, but rather a way to show that you love and trust God more than you do money, or more accurately the things that you want money to buy.
This list is by no means exhaustive, but instead are merely some of the things that are required of every Christian as set forth by the Bible. The Christian who is not doing these things – and indeed is not doing all the things commanded of him, who is not keeping the whole counsel of God as set forth in the Holy Scriptures – cannot be said to be doing his part. And what must be said of such a Christian?
If you are not a Christian, your part is repenting of your sins and believing in the Lord Jesus Christ so that you may be converted. The penalty for a Christian who fails to obey in secondary matters cannot be compared to the penalty of not being in Christ, which is an eternity in a lake of fire. In light of that fact, do not let another moment pass without doing your part. I invite and urge you to: