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prov·o·ca·tion - something that provokes, arouses, or stimulates. pant - to long eagerly; yearn. a collection of thoughts intended to provoke and inspire. these posts are hoping to encourage people to think, especially Christians, and pant even harder for the waterbrooks of the Lord. If you are not a believer in Christ Jesus, I welcome your perspective and encourage your investigation on these matters.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Putting the Dagger in Our Swagger*

In the West and particularly in America, I am bothered by what appears to be a strong triumphalistic attitude among believers. Christians attitudes at times almost appear as militaristic, if not superior to other people, especially those who stand in opposition to us. Because we have a nation born out of strong Christian roots and the Judeo-Christian ethic and won the recent election with the primary issue as morality, I fear that Christians seem to think that we have some bragging rights. Not only in the political/cultural realm do I feel Christianity has become braggish, but also in the exemplification of the Christian life as well. We have our devotionals on the best-selling lists, hit movies on the big screen, and celebrities that share Christian sentiments that add to our sub-culture confidence that we are somehow making strides in impacting our world. Furthermore, the advent of the church growth movement has hyped up the Christian adrenaline with increased numbers and bigger campuses that are conspicuously located to make a statement that "we are here" or incite the "check me out now" kind of mentality. Some may say, "What about the abundant Christian life? Aren't we 'more than conquerors' through Him who loved us?'" My answer would be yes, of course; however, the Christian life and its manifestation as conquering should be the rejoicing that are names are written in heaven (Luke 10:17-20). Christianity here in America needs a fresh dose of remembrance as Deuteronomy puts it. If we have been saved, it has been the Lord's doing. If God blesses us, it is because He sovereignly chooses to do so, not because He is obligated to us. If we are experiencing the "abundant life", it is because of His Holy Spirit whom He has given to us who operates within us to be and do that which is pleasing to God. Over and over in the Scriptures, we are implored with the command, "Let him who boast, boast in the Lord." So I am addressing this to our swag. It is seen in our billboards, our bumper stickers, our sermons, and our t-shirts. You can find it both in the high-brow academia and low-brow popularism. And before the fall comes because of our pride, it is my desire to put the dagger in our swagger. We have done a vain thing in our over-confidence and over-inflated ideas of triumphalism and chauvinism. We are debtors to God and to our fellow man. It is our duty to serve, not to be seen. We have been charged from on high to be lowly and associate with those who are such, possessing meekness with gentleness. We are forever to be enthralled by grace, staggered by mercy, and overwhelmed by love which has been affectionately directed to us who are in Christ. Whatever we have, whatever we are, is entirely from God. And whatever we will be, will ultimately be directed and accomplished by God's invisible hand of providence. Let's not fool ourselves to thinking we are more than we ought lest we fall. This we know but is worth repeating, "For by grace are we saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the free gift of God, not of works, lest any one should boast" (Ephesians 2:8-9). If we are to conqueror and be more than conquerors, it will not be from a takeover or even a great revival. This is what the Jews were looking for in the Messiah. They wanted a Messiah they could boast in, one who would take back the nation of Israel militaristically like King David. So they missed the message of the true Messiah and crucified Him on a cross. This same Messiah is coming back again someday, and His reign and rule will not be through the militant mentality but from those who followed in his train who humbly and gladly laid down their lives for the pleasure of the Father and glory of Jesus. They swag was lost when the strut was removed at Calvary. They have felt the dagger, a dagger that needs to be felt again lest we too, like the Israelites in the 1st century, could miss the Messiah's coming in the 21st century with our eyes on ourselves rather than on Him who is our true boasting (Galatians 6:14). Cross-bearing carries no swag, and Christians today both corporately and individually must beware of the temptation to believe in a Christianity without the cross, lest they become enemies of it (Philippians 3:18-19).

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