November 11, 2011

Taking Peculiar to the Max

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Hooray! It's Friday! We've made it to the end of the week! I've thoroughly enjoyed Matthew 6 so far. It's definitely been a blessing. We're going to go straight into Matthew 6: 14-18 today.

"In prayer there is a connection between what God does and what you do. You can't get forgiveness from God, for instance, without also forgiving others. If you refuse to do your part, you cut yourself off from God's part. (16)When you practice some appetite-denying discipline to better concentrate on God, don't make a production out of it. It might turn you into a small-time celebrity but it won't make you a saint. If you 'go into training' inwardly, act normal outwardly. Shampoo and comb your hair, brush your teeth, wash your face. God doesn't require attention-getting devices. He won't overlook what you are doing; he'll reward you well." 

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I find it so interesting that God places that conditional statement there. We always like to think that God will hear our prayers and answer according to blah blah blah. However, there is a condition. This is something I've often forgotten so it's a great reminder to me.  A lot of times, we pray and ask God to forgive us of our sins before we make our other prayer requests known to Him. However, if we haven't forgiven others, we're wasting time. You can't ask for something you're not willing to give. In this case, it's forgiveness. I heard one of my pastors say that forgiveness is for giving. Give forgiveness to others so that God can give to you. It's also indicative of how much peace and freedom God really wants us to have. Holding grudges can really wear on a person. For me, it's especially hard to forgive someone when  I've gone to them and said, "you've hurt me because of such and such and such thing" and the person is unapologetic for whatever reason. It makes me feel like I don't matter so why should I forgive someone who doesn't care about my feelings enough? The reason is because forgiving others is actually about healing those hurt feelings. It means being one step closer to God and letting go of the hurt that was inflicted. I once heard Oprah say that forgiveness is the acknowledgment that the past couldn't have been any different. Once you move with that understanding, it's a little easier to move forward and forgive others.

I saw a clip of Kirk Franklin sharing a message on sexual purity. One of the things he said that stood out most was that sometimes, Christians can just be so weird. I literally laughed out loud. He was explaining how Christians can be so weird that we're pretty much approachable. Why? We're too busy acting holier than thou as if we don't know the struggles that men and women face. Starting at verse 16, the text gives further instruction on how we should act when fasting, meditating on God, etc.  Fasting isn't something you share from the mountaintop. If you're fasting with a church, the pastor has no choice but to shout it from the pulpit but that's different from broadcasting it to your entire social media network. It'd be one thing if you were explaining a testimony about how it was a blessing to you afterward. However, God clearly says to not make a production of it. I also really don't like the "weight loss" motives people use when trying to fast. Fasting is a spiritual process. It's about denying something in search of more Christ than you would normally feast on. I don't agree with the approach of sharing how much weight loss you experienced while on a fast. In my opinion, it's irrelevant to the bigger picture of what fasting is all about.

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It's sad but I can't say that I don't know a ton of Christians who were a little more than just a "peculiar people". Some Christians want the world to know they're Christians so badly that they end up looking weird. Looking homely doesn't mean you're more spiritual. You can shop at the thrift store and not look as if you've shopped in a 1800s and still be a presentable Christian. The text doesn't say this but even with modesty, you don't have to look strange to be considered a Christian. You can still dress nicely and be on fire for Christ. It's when you make fashion an idol that you run into trouble. Otherwise, Christians, STOP BEING SO WEIRD!!!

Have you ever experienced Christians who were soooo spiritual that they ended up being unapproachable? Have you been that Christian? This is definitely something to really think about. Think about Jesus while he was on this Earth. Think about the fact that his closest friends used to have some serious character flaws. But, meeting Jesus helped change them. Can people say they are changed for the better when they around you? Or do they want nothing to do with Christianity after learning you're a Christian?

Something to think about...

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