Thursday, November 22, 2012

The Love Test

Do you really love the people of your church?

If you are a Christian, you have to. There are no exceptions for this.

Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him. (1 John 5:1 ESV)

Let's take the Love Test.  It is one thing to say you love every member of your church, but the Bible tells us what that will look like. Rate yourself. Do you really love your church family?

The Love Test
(Answer True or False for each question.)

  1. You are gladly inconvenienced and you do not react in anger when taken advantage of. You happily put up with people.
  2. You are actively generous with your time and stuff toward other people. You look for ways to go low and serve.
  3. You don’t sit around wanting what other people have and you don’t wish evil and loss on them. You pray for God to bless your friends and enemies.
  4. You don’t parade your accomplishments in front of other people. You’re embarrassed when anyone draws attention to you instead of the Lord
  5. You don’t get all puffed up over your supposed achievements. You’re glad to go unnoticed. You know who deserves the credit for any good in you.
  6. You are not bossy and domineering with people – you listen carefully.
  7. You don’t demand that things get done your way but are flexible and quick to see others points of view.
  8. You are not quick-tempered nor easily offended by what other people do. You brighten the room. You’re not a grump!
  9. You never hold a grudge. You have a terrible memory for all the ways people have failed and offended you.
  10. You don’t get excited about sinful things or find joy in others failures.
  11. You get fired up when people live according to the Bible.
  12. You do all you can to protect others from shame and embarrassment, even when they royally mess up. You can be trusted.
  13. You are not the least suspicious of people and simply always think the best of their motives - regardless of how they are acting.
  14. You always expect that the Christians around can live even more for God.
  15. You refuse to stop being an optimist when it comes to others. You just won’t stop believing in the Christians around you no matter what they do.
All I have done here is take the famous love chapter from the Bible, 1 Corinthians 13, and give each description of what love is its own explanation. 

How did you do? Did you pass the test?

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Book Review: I Am Second – Real Stories. Changing Lives.

Perhaps you have seen one of the I Am Second videos? They involve a person in a black T-shirt under one light essentially giving their testimony of faith in Jesus. Doug Bender and Dave Sterrett have now produced a book by the same title.

You know, I love the effort folks like this make to get out the real testimonies of folks whom God has saved. There is a kind of messiness to it all that demonstrates the reality of conversion. We really are sinners who have been saved by grace and not our own doing.

You can read of athletes Josh Hamilton and Bradie James, musician Brian Welch, and many others. There are a host of videos on their website.

One weakness of the project, though, is the assumption that the testimony of a famous person will result in lots of other people getting saved. As much as I admire these guys for their goal, that is just not the way it works. In fact, this kind of thing (using the wealthy or famous or beautiful to win the lost) can really send false messages. Jesus is not about making your life better. Nor is He somehow validated since a famous dude followed Him. 

That makes me question the usefulness of the project. Every Christian should ask himself some serious questions if he feels more excited that a pro quarterback “got saved” than his fellow church member’s kid.  This little review doesn’t allow the time to develop these thoughts further, but I think this is one of the ways technology has changed us and gotten us a little off course.

So, as glad as I am for the motives of these brothers, I am not as convinced of the usefulness or wisdom of the end product. I am sure God will use it to save some, for His Gospel is too powerful and glorious to not bear that kind of fruit. But I think somebody should spend as much money producing videos of unknown saints in India who turned from idolatry to serve the Living God. That story is just as, if not more, important.

(This book was provided courtesy of Graf-Martin Communications and Thomas Nelson in exchange for an honest review.)