Where do we go from here?

‎”But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18). Repeatedly Scripture urges us, as it does in this passage, to grow spiritually and in our knowledge of our Savior. We cannot do this on our own or by ourselves. But God, in His mercy, has provided both the means whereby we can grow, such as prayer and the careful study of His Word, and His Spirit, by Whom He enables us to do what we cannot do in our own strength.

In community we can bond together with the like-minded to help one another and help a hurting world in Jesus name.  It is in the practice of loving others outside our comfortable community that it is particularly challenging.  I enjoy and truly appreciate participating in the shared wisdom of Christians in community venues e.g. local church, the Centennial Institute, the Truth Project and many others.  But how do we get out of the comfort zone and actually do something relevant?  Where do we go from here?

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  1. jrod042886 says:

    I too very much enjoy the participation in a Christian community (i.e., Church, friends circles, family); however, if we want to fully experience the fullness of Christ, which as Christians we all should, where do we go from here is a great question. I think what we do first, is precisely what you said in the first paragraph. First we must GROW. Grow in our spiritual knowledge by reading the Bible, praying to our Lord, and work on ourselves to be diligent Christ-like followers, but then we must GO. Do as 1 Chronicles 16:8 says, “Give praise to the Lord, proclaim his name; make known among the nations what he has done.” (NIV) So get in the Bible and read his word, pray, and then GO PROCLAIM what Christ has done for you to change your life. The other half of GO is to GO SERVE. It is truly in my heart that if we want to be more like Christ, we must have a loving, serving heart. We must serve the sick and lost, not just our Christian community. Jesus did not serve just the community he lived in; he traveled to areas that needed to hear his words of truth. He went and served the sick, the blind, the immoral, but most importantly, he went to them. Obviously, going out to serve by ourselves is tough and extremely uncomfortable, but even the 12 Disciples had each other. Matthew 18:20 says, “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” (NIV) Just get a few Christian friends together and go serve, Christ will be there with you. Grow and then go, this is the way to experience the fullness of the Lord in our own lives. Then keep growing and keep going.

  2. stormtrooper says:

    If you would ask someone what they know about Christian persecutions, they would most likely answer from what they have seen in the movies. Lions eating men in the grand Roman Coliseums is what comes to my mind. The most known Christian persecution is during the Roman Empire. What about prior persecution and even the present? We must first start looking back even further then the first few centuries to study the persecution of Christians. We must understand that Jews were persecuted also, in much of the same way that Christians have been, persecuted for being God’s people. The story of Jesus, who was a Jew, and most likely the most famous Christian persecuted, starts at the beginning of mankind. At this beginning we see persecution right from the start of God’s chosen.
    We can see in Genesis 3 that Satan shows up as the voice of deception. Until this point God’s word is the only word that has been at work and Satan does not like that. Satan is a serpent that deceives a liar, and a murderer. (2Co 11:1-3; Jn 8:44) Satan questioned God’s word and God’s goodness, denied God’s warning, and then substituted a lie for God’s truth. “You will be like God”, is Satan’s master lie and people still believe it. (Isa 14:12-14; Ro 1:21-25) This is the core of why Christians are persecuted. The persecutors believe the lies of Satan that they are like God and turn away from Him and to their own selfish ways.
    Edmund P. Clowney author of The Unfolding Mystery: Discovering Christ in the Old Testament (2013) said, “If we forget the story line of the Old Testament, we will also miss the witness of their faith. That omission cuts the heart out of the Bible”. (p. 15) The same could be said for Christians that have been persecuted. Their story is a witness of their faith. David was pursued by Saul because he was chosen and filled with God’s Spirit. David was called a man after God’s own heart and he was still sought to be killed by Saul. (Ac 13:22)
    “They set up the altar on its foundation and offered burnt offerings for the morning and evening on it to the Lord even though they feared the surrounding peoples”. (Ezr 3:3) Much of what we accomplish on our journey of faith is done despite obstacles, setbacks, and dead ends. Despite Abraham’s embarrassing decisions, he pressed forward in reliance upon God and became known as the father of the faithful. Despite suffering domestic abuse at the hands of his brothers, Joseph placed his future in the hands of God and became one of the strongest leaders in Egypt. Despite threats from a heavily armed opposition, Ezra and his peers built an alter for the sacrifice of worship. Despite suffering an excruciating death from stoning, Stephen’s witness for Christ rallied a new generation of bold believers.
    Philippians 1:14 says, “Most of the brothers in the Lord have gained confidence from my imprisonment and dare even more to speak the message fearlessly”. Twenty-five percent of Paul’s missionary career was spent in prisons. Today’s prisons are like motels compared to Roman prisons hundreds of years ago. Often a prisoner was beaten with a whip before being thrown into a locked cell. Bleeding wounds went untreated as prisoners sat in painful leg or wrist chains. Clothing frequently stuck to a wound as the blood dried. Prisons were infernos in the summer and ice-blocks during the winter. Sanitary conditions did not exist and there was no running water or toilets. Yet in such an environment Paul thrived and encouraged others to share the Gospel of Christ. The way Paul handled the distress of his life was a testimony to his deep convictions about God’s plan. Clowney (2013) said, “God does not do all that He has promised at once, the faith of His people is tried and tested” and “at times the promise seems not only distant but illusory”. (p. 14) Paul knew this and he did not quit.
    During the Roman Empire’s first few centuries “Jews and Christians were seen as unbending fanatics who insisted on the sole worship of their One God—an alien cyst that must be removed for the good of society”. (Gonzalez, 2010, p. 20) At this same time much of the persecution was being perpetrated by the Jews. We have seen that it was the Jews who pushed to have Jesus crucified. Christians during this time in history did not consider themselves a new religion, many of them had been Jews and still carried out the Jewish traditions, and felt their faith was fulfillment of the Messiah.(Gonzalez, 2010, p. 27) As time went on the Jews became less focus from the Roman Empire with the focus narrowing in on Christians.
    In The Story of Christianity, Justo L. Gonzalez (2010) wrote, “it is the Jews who persecute Christians, who in turn seek refuge under the wing of the Roman authorities.” (p. 42) The Romans believed that conflicts that arose between the Christians and the Jews were internal matters. Gonzalez (2010) points out several other acts of persecution of the Jews against the Christians; Herod Agrippa (grandson of Herod the Great) had James the brother of John executed, he had Peter arrested, James the brother of Jesus was order to death by high priest. (p. 28)
    In Acts 18:14-17 we see where Gallio tells the Jews that he was not going to settle an internal matter and throws them out of court. “Then the crowd there turned on Sosthenes the synagogue leader and beat him in front of the proconsul; and Gallio showed no concern whatever.” (Ac 18:17) We don’t know if it was the Greeks or the Jews who beat Sosthenes. But one thing is very clear that Gallio did not care. Furthermore, we see in Matthew 27, Mark 15, Luke 23, and John 18-19:18, that is was the Jews that wanted Jesus crucified. Pilate wanted to let Jesus go. Pilate told the Jews, “You take him and crucify him. As for me, I find no basis for a charge against him.” (Jn 19:6b)

    For the third time he spoke to them: “Why? What crime has this man committed? I have found in him no grounds for the death penalty. Therefore I will have him punished and then release him.” But with loud shouts they insistently demanded that he be crucified, and their shouts prevailed. So Pilate decided to grant their demand. He released the man who had been thrown into prison for insurrection and murder, the one they asked for, and surrendered Jesus to their will. (Ac 23:22-25)
    According to David Limbaugh,
    “only in the Bible are the components of the Declaration’s phrase, ‘all men are created equal and are endowed by their Creator (singular) with certain unalienable rights’ present. It is a biblical concept (Genesis) that God created man in His image and likeness. Only because of this are all men entitled to equal treatment and unalienable rights. The Greeks, apparently, did not subscribe to the doctrine of equality or equal rights, and neither did the Romans”. (Spencer, 2003, Oct 06)
    We can see from history that Christians have been persecuted, some even to death, for their beliefs. Though much is not said about present day persecution toward Christians, at least in the United States, but in other countries it could be considered an epidemic. While analyzing a 1997 State Department report on religious persecution John W. Kennedy said,
    “The government of China has sought to restrict all actual religious practice to government-authorized religious organizations and registered places of worship,” the report charges. It gives particulars on the government’s crackdown on unauthorized religious groups during the past year, including raiding house churches and beating worshipers. “Local authorities used threats, demolition of property, extortion, fines, interrogation, detention, and reform-through-education sentences in carrying out this campaign.” (Kennedy, 1997)
    For many years Christians have had to go on the defensive against the government. It has gotten so bad that our public institutions are moving toward a more worldly view. We have seen from prayer being removed from school, the Ten Commandments not allowed to be displayed in government buildings, coaches and teachers not allowed to lead athletes or students in prayer, to the current changes in laws, Christians are still being persecuted. “Christians in the public and academic spheres-accompanied by an alarming determination on the part of the left to eradicate Christian influences from our culture and even our history.” But when the source of those values-which for the Founding Fathers and most of our nation’s history was Christianity-is removed, something else will have to fill the vacuum.” (Spencer, 2003, Oct 06)
    In Matthew Jesus said, “Those who are persecuted for righteousness are blessed, for the kingdom of heaven is theirs. You are blessed when they insult and persecute you and falsely say every kind of evil against you because of Me. Be glad and rejoice, because your reward is great in heaven. For that is how they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (Mt 5:10-12) We must remember that one day our present will be written about as past and will inspire other Christians to stand strong in their faith.

    References
    Clowney, E. P. (2013). The unfolding mystery: discovering christ in the old testament (2nd ed.). Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing.
    HCSB. (2009). The apologetics study bible for students. Nashville, Tennessee: Holman Bible Publishers.
    Kennedy, J. W. (1997, Sep 01). State department report decries persecution of christians. Christianity Today, 41, 74-74, 87. Retrieved from http://ezproxy.ccu.edu/login?url=http:// search. proquest.com/docview/211904784?accountid=10200
    Spencer, R. (2003, Oct 06). The persecution of christians in america. Human Events, 59, 11. Retrieved from http://ezproxy.ccu.edu/login?url=http://search.proquest.com /docview/23581 85 76? accountid=10200
    Gonzalez, J. L. (2010). The story of christianity (Vol. I: the early church to the reformation). New York, NY: HarperCollins.
    NIV; study bible. (2002). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

  3. LeaderTen says:

    Where do we go from here? As Christians we have chosen to obtain a degree from a Christian college. I suspect this is because our hope is to gain knowledge while aligning it with our values or worldview. In particular I’m seeking an MBA with a Healthcare Administration certification. Ultimately this degree will further place me into a managerial role. My current role is a leadership role and I have been groomed by my manager to proceed with duties that managers do. I appreciate the opportunity and know that as I further my career I will be placed in situations that may question my values. By maintaining relationships with fellow Christians in my education, I will be better prepared when in the work realm. The tools gained here will allow me to better judge where I conduct work.

    In the real world I have little time to dedicate to society such as volunteering and participating in church activities. I suspect when I am finished with my degree at CCU I will need to continue to grow with those “like-minded” people. Getting involved in my community and allowing God to work through me is something I strive for. These opportunities will fuel my faith as I continue to do God’s work.

    If we as Christians allow society to dictate what it is we can say or do, the faith becomes dim. Christians need to sustain each other. Hold each other up in faith. Be the light and be the salt. 2 Timothy 4:3-4 “For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.” We cannot pick and chose where we live out our faith it must be consistent in every aspect of who we are.
    Of course the path of least resistance much more desired and easy. Remembering that this life is not our own but Gods, makes it easier to want to do for others and comes more naturally. Matthew 7: 13 “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.”

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