Saturday, June 30, 2012

No Water in My Cheese Dip!

 My husband and I love Mexican food.  In every town we ever lived in it was our goal to find the very best Mexican restaurant.  Once the task was accomplished it would be "our place" for as long as we lived in that town.  The best part about Mexican is that you immediately get chips and salsa and if your a "Dasher" you quickly ask for a bowl of cheese dip.  The moment you see the piping hot bowl of cheese dip headed your way you think what every Mexican lover thinks at some point during the meal "I shouldn't, should I?" but you do.  This was a fun little tradition we had until our favorite spot in the metropolis of Monroe, LA made a "big mistake...huge."  They watered down the cheese dip!  Not just any cheese dip, our favorite cheese dip!!  Who likes watered down cheese dip?

     Cheese dip has nothing to do with Christianity except for the fact that it too has become watered down and to be frank "tasteless" as a whole in the American culture.  I am tempted to apologize in advance if I happen to offend anyone with the words I write in this post, but the reason I decided to forgo this apology is due to the fact that I myself was offended by this very revelation.  I poured the pitcher of water myself, watering everyone around me, all in the name of "faith."  I am the "Christian" that has "played church"  I am the child of God that has completely lived for myself at times and so "watered down" the truth of what it means to be a proclaimer of Christ that is saddens me to think of all the people I may have had the opportunity to share Jesus with that were simply turned off by my complacency.  So for this reason I cannot apologize for the ideas presented in this post, because it is those very ideas that have opened my eyes to see "Christianity" as it really is, instead of what I had created it to be. 

     I remember very clearly the words spoken by someone very dear to me at the ripe age of 18.  They went something like this, "the only reason you claim to be a Christian is because of your parents and the way you were raised."  I remember being so offended at the time and flat out angry, lashing out, and even professing to never want to speak to him again.  I even remember after he left my house being proud of myself, as if I had somehow stood my ground and done the "christian thing."  Now, looking back on that moment in my life, it is so very clear to me.  He was absolutley right.  Please know that I am beyond grateful for the way my parents raised me and in NO way do I take that for granted.  However, my parents, being the amazing people that they are and were, could never give me the gift of Christianity.  "Faith" is not something that you can receive by proxy.  Instead, it is something that I had to search out and find for myself.  I sat out on my own search around the age of 19 as a young student at Harding University.  Since that time I have discovered many amazing things, like the grace of God and what it means to die to myself.  I have also, very often, been convicted in different areas of my life, which brings me to the topic of this post..."Watered Down Christianity"

     Watered down Christianity has become an idea that has overtaken our country and robbed us of our ability to see Christ for who he is.  Instead we see Christ for who we want him to be.  In the book Radical David Platt writes these words after discussing the various ways we as Americans have defined who Jesus is.

But do you and I realize what we are doing at this point?  We are molding Jesus into our image.  He is beginning to look a lot like us because, after all, that is whom we are most comfortable with.  And the danger now is that when we gather in our church buildings to sing and lift up our hands in worship, we may not actually be worshiping the Jesus of the Bible.  Instead we may be worshiping ourselves.
   Think about your life for a moment.  I presume that the majority of people reading this post claim to be Christians, if not, no worries, play along for a bit.  Think about what makes you valuable, what are your successes, your achievements, what is it about you that makes you a person of worth.  While you are contemplating those things I will tell you what I once, not very long ago, believed was the thing that made me the most valuable.  I believed that my success as a "perfect wife" made me valuable...Surely if I am the "perfect mother" I will be infinitely valuable...maybe if I am beautiful with a "perfect complexion" I will be valuable...Or possibly if I obtain a successful career and manage to balance motherhood with "perfection" my value will be of great worth...Maybe just maybe if I never miss a service and give large amounts of money then, it is then that I will obtain true value.  There is so much emphasis put on the things "we" accomplish, yet very little on what God is accomplishing.  We can go to church every Sunday, dressed to a "tea," sit in our cushioned pews, sing praises to God, follow all the rules of a person attempting to live a "good life," and even say all the right words to encourage, uplift, and help those who are hurting, yet never once, not even for a second,  truly acknowledge the one who from Him gives worth to ALL things, even OURSELVES.  We then proceed to leave the church building, continue on with the daily rush of our lives, maybe a prayer here or there, pat ourselves on the back at our successes, continue to strive to reach some level of manmade perfection and this my friends is what we call Christianity.  ME...ME...ME...ME....ME...ME...ME.  NO, NO, NO, NO, NO  This is not what we we're created for.
The dangerous assumption we unknowingly accept in the American dream is that our greatest asset is our own ability.  The American dream prizes what people can accomplish when they believe in themselves and trust in themselves, and we are drawn toward such thinking.  But the gospel has different priorities.  The gospel beckons us to die to ourselves and to believe in God and to trust in his power.  In the gospel, God confronts us with our utter inability to accomplish anything of value apart from him.  This is what Jesus meant when he said, "I am the vine; you are the branches.  If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. (David Pratt, Radical

We could never do enough, accomplish enough, be good enough, righteous enough, to give us value!  This is not bad new friends!! This is great news!
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.  For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight.  In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will-to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.  In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace that he lavished on us.  With all wisdom and understanding, he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment-to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ. Eph 1:3-10
     Christ himself has given us our value, he has made us worthy and given us a gift that is unfathomable.  You see I have lived a large part of my life striving to obtain a certain level of "righteousness" through means that are simply playing the part of a Christian and thus watering down the most precious gift that ever was or will ever be given.  I have made statements such as when do you plan on "accepting Jesus" or when I "accepted Jesus"  He doesn't need my acceptance!!! I need HIM!!!  My need for him goes much farther than showing up with a smile on my face on Sunday mornings, spending approximately 1 hour in praise to my God, it is infinitely deeper than telling sister Joe, "I'll be praying for ya," knowing that more than likely you will forget before you ever reach the parking lot, it's a need that reaches to every fiber of my being.  A need that effects every choice, every thought, every action of my life, everyday of my life!  I need Him today, tomorrow, and everyday of my life.  One day in His presence will never do!!  I need Him so desperately that He is more important than my husband, my children, my social status, my home, my "things," my, my, my, my...

     It's like driving thru McDonalds and ordering the biggest value meal on the menu, scarfing it down in the parking lot and throwing the empty bag out the window as you drive off.  Christianity is not a value meal..."repeat these words," "say this prayer," "be baptized," and then drive right out of the parking lot with your ticket to heaven in your back pocket, just hoping it doesn't fall out.  You and I must give our LIFE!!  By "Life" I don't mean our "checklist."  Our LIFE is the realization that apart from you God I am nothing.  It's falling before His thrown everyday of our life with empty hands and asking Him to fill them.  It is realizing that all that we have and everything in us that is good is directly from the Lord God Almighty.  It is refusing to "play church" and to deciding to "be the church" to everyone, everywhere, in all circumstances.  Not just when it is convenient.  APART FROM GOD MY SAVIOR I AM OF NO WORTH!!!  WORTHLESS, PITIED, EMPTY.  I am ok with that, because in Christ I am a new creation.  "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! 1 Cor 5:17."  I want to live everyday of my life as if I truly am a "new creation."



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