It is popular in the modern church to go on and on about how lucky we are that we are friends of God, but was this the disciples' focus? There are actually very few scriptures that say we are friends of God, but there are many that point out our slavery to Christ. What is a bondservant (or servant), and how does this word represent the true nature of our position to Christ as God's children?
Many people think that they can simply live good lives and that will be enough of a witness to others, but the Bible doesn't agree with this. The Bible says that it is the gospel that is the power of God for salvation, even though it is an offense as well. We must be willing to share the full gospel with others, which includes acknowledging people's sin. If one doesn't know he has sinned against God, he will not realize that he needs to repent and turn from sin in receiving salvation.
It's so easy to complain. It's human nature and prevalent in the world around us. God, however, has called us to a better way. We need to realize that the Bible says that when we grumble, we are really grumbling against the Lord. Would we still complain if we honestly believed that God was sovereign in all things?
Many in the church today are trying to follow worldly self-improvement teachings and ideologies. But is this what the Bible calls us to do, or is this man's thinking? Having recently taken a Ministry by Strengths course based on Tom Rath's book, Strengths Finder 2.0, I question the wisdom of this model. Following a leadership pattern set out by someone who doesn't even claim to be a Christian may result in a well-run, prosperous church, but will it be God's Church, or man's facsimile?
Do the warnings of Jesus regarding forgiveness not count because he was speaking during the time of the old covenant? Do we not need to worry about sinning because it's covered? Are we expected to fully follow the law, perfectly, because we are Christians? We look at these questions in this study of Jesus' words regarding forgiveness in Matthew 6 ("but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses").
Many Christians see the Bible as a list of things not to do. While this is an aspect of Christianity, not doing things can leave us empty, doing nothing. This is not profitable to our faith. True Christianity calls us to do the righteous works of God, replacing the "NOTs" we used to do with the good works we are called to do.
Nothing we do outside of God's will and without his help is ultimately worthwhile. The Bible says, "We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment. We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away."
What does the term "polluted garment" ("filthy rags" in the KJV) mean, and what can we learn about the beauty of partnering with God in everything we do?
God's view of ambition is different than our own. Consider the request of James and John. It was their desire to sit at Jesus' right hand and left hand in the Kingdom, but Jesus spoke of "his cup" and what we may have to bear in following him. The path to greatness in God's Kingdom is through service.
Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. -Philippians 2:3-4.
The Bible says a lot about humility and what our attitude should be like. We must learn to humble ourselves, or God will humble us, which may be the more painful route.
We are all one in Christ, and we are called to "get along." While we may disagree with others, if those disagreements aren't about core tenants of Christianity, then we still need to recognize that many of those we disagree with are our brothers. None of us are perfect in what we know, so we need to be gracious. We all can learn something, and we should be open to what others have to say.
Of course, if a core doctrine of Christianity is being maligned, then yes, we need to speak out and mark such doctrines and teachers as false.
I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned.
What does this passage mean? Come discover the beauty of trusting in the true Vinedresser.