Tag Archive: Christ follower

do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good

i really struggle to ‘get’ how people have such issues with Jesus-following when the basics of what it is all about is gems like that – love God, love people, look after orphans and widows, forgive those who wrong you, look after the land you’ve been given, share this love message…

i do sadly understand how people can have issues with christians and a lot of the things they have done in the name of religion or Jesus or the church, but the message itself – reminds me of the statement kleinfrans made – the God i believe in is not the God you don’t believe in – if more people just read the bible and understood the basics of Jesus-following instead of reading christians it might be a completely different story

but i love that verse – it comes from romans 12.21 and was one of the verses that was really meaningful to me when i was doing my dts (discipleship training school) in holland and then outreach in malawi in 2000 – we reduced it to a 1221 code between three of us in the team so that if someone was being dumb or christian (as opposed to Christ-following, oh that there wasn’t a difference!) one of us would mention it or subtly write it into the ground with a stick and the other person would see it and be reminded – fight evil by gooding it to death

i love the concept, but it is one of my biggest struggles to live out consistently – my inherent sense of ‘justice’ (and it’s a warped sinful idea of justice that is fed heavily by pride) makes me want to return evil for evil – tit for tat, eye for eye, tooth for tooth

but as gandhi said ‘an eye for an eye only leaves the whole world blind’ and it’s true – revenge feeds revenge – there is no natural end to it – and so when someone pushes into the line of traffic i’ve been sitting in for twenty minutes, or a unicorn player hacks one of my friends in a hockey match, or or or… my response needs to be good

then, in the same passage, just for me i think, paul sets it out like this, ‘If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.’ (12.20)

i have often offered to skip the first two steps and go directly to pouring the burning coals on the person’s head, but God has never taken me up on it – it was Jesus’ revolutionary love that disarmed people – when most of us would be shouting curses as the crowd nailed us literally or metaphorically to the cross, Jesus responds with ‘Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.’

this is powerful, powerful stuff. i firmly believe that if Christ-followers in south africa could really start living the 1221 we could transform this country cos it would catch on. i also firmly believe that if all christians in South Africa could become Christ-followers… south africa would be unrecognisable in months!

how about it? pick it up for just this week for starters and see how it goes – Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good!

why is it so hard to live a Jesus-following life? the things i want to do i don’t do and the things i don’t want to do i find that i can’t stop myself from doing. Woe is me this wretched man, chief of sinners, sucker of note, i might as well…

STOP! [not hammer time] Romans 12.2-3 ‘Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind… THEN you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – His good, pleasing and perfect will.’

try to do more stuff, live better, get my actions in line with what i am supposed to believe, and fail dismally.

have my mind transformed… and my actions will follow closely behind.

i am married to the beautiful Val. Meet her, get to know her, ‘fall in love’ (probably more accurately, choose to pursue a relationship with her encouraged by the feelings and emotions she invokes in me) and then one day stand in front of family and friends and make a bunch of promises of things i have chosen to do with regards to her – as love is a series of choices (and the actions that back up those choices)

so if i am trying to do a bunch of stuff for tbV because i have to (i am married to her after all and that’s what married men have to do) then it will work for a while or while i’m feeling it, but then one day i won’t be feeling it and does that mean it won’t happen?

however, if my mind has been changed and i know have a mindset of i love this woman, i have chosen to be with her, i choose her again today (and tomorrow, and the day after that) then the actions follow easily (or more naturally at least) – and so not just the easy things like buying flowers or spoiling her with chocolate (or in her case sour worms and body parts) but also the slightly harder-to-motivate things like washing up and vacuuming and taking out the trash – but because my mind has been transformed to ‘i love and i choose this girl’ the actions become second nature (or should – but a lot better than if i was just trying to change the actions)

i think this concept is a huge-mongous one that a lot of Christ-followers just don’t get (probably due to bad evangelism-theology – come to the front, say a prayer, done.) you are a new creation, you are part of a new kingdom, you have someone else in charge of your life – be transformed! (by the renewing of your mind – and renewing as i see it is a continuous process as opposed to a once off) and now live differently.

have you invited God to transform your mind lately? what being a Jesus follower means? what your attitude to money should be? your future plans? what involvement He wants for you in the local church? how your future looks? who you date and marry? how you speak, what you listen to/read/watch?

it might be time to start thinking about changing your mind, and He does it better.

another excerpt from Erwin McManus ‘an unSTOPPABLE force’ – just buy it already!

‘And though i’m advocating our need to become a movement, I would like to encourage you to give up on keeping up.’

then a little later:

‘The first-century church didn’t keep up with its time, didn’t spend its energy keeping up with its time. The first-century church changed time. It rewrote history. It radically impacted culture. The church was the forerunner, not the runner up. And out of the church’s influence came the greatest art, the greatest music, and the greatest thinkers. Out of the church’s influence were born the cultures from which came Voltaire, Nietzsche, Einstein, Newton and Hawking, not to mention Jefferson, Franklin and Edison. The Michaelangelos and the da Vinci’s came right out of a context that Christ had radically shaped. I am not saying that they were all followers of Jesus Christ, but I am saying that they were all indebted to Him.”

and i just think this is solidly the key – the church should be setting the pace – one area where this is blatantly true to me and where God is calling me to be a voice is that of relationships – for too long the church has done relationships pretty much like the world has done relationships and hence we sit with the situation where the rate of divorce within the church is pretty much the same as the rate of divorce outside of the church. This is an absolute tragedy and the solution lies some part in us saying ‘waitasec, if we continue to do the things we’ve always done we will continue to see the results we’ve been seeing’ and start setting the trends and role modelling patterns of successful relationships [which are not easy – they require work and commitment and time and energy, but when you are married to the right person as i am then all of that is more than worth it and i deeply desire to serve my wife and love her and help her to be all she can be and to absolutely dominate in life] and becoming the benchmark, rather than sitting on the bench.

there must be more than this…

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