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Summary: We shall either live as followers of Christ or as enemies of the cross of Christ. There is no in between.

“Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us. For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.” [1]

Some lessons are learned through reading; those feel great. However, the lessons that are most life-changing are often learned through painful mistakes and brutal moments in valleys so low that you aren’t sure if you’ll ever climb out. In a blog entry, Shaun King speaks of some painful lessons he learned when starting a church. [2] In that blog, he presents a thought-provoking look at some truths he learned—truths, may I say, with which I find myself in substantial agreement. The truths he lists as having learned are as follows:

1. Start a thing as close to the way you dream it being down the road as you can.

2. People L.O.V.E. to hear about radical change.

3. Few disciples of Jesus Christ actually exist in the world.

Undoubtedly, his statements, especially the latter, appear provocative, even confrontational. However, the list exposes truths that should be self-evident.

All projects tend toward chaos as time passes. This is nothing less than an application of the Second Law of Thermodynamics in the life of a church project. Theologically, people grow weary with righteousness unless new energy is constantly supplied by the Spirit of God. It is now over six decades ago that a new movement of churches burst on the scene in the United States. Growing out of the Fundamentalist Movement of the early decades of that century, these churches were dynamic and the pastors committed to preaching and practising the Word of God. On one occasion a leader of that movement was interviewed by a reporter who sought to address the unprecedented impact this dynamic group was having on church life. The reported asked, “Dr. Smith, what is the future of your group?” Without hesitation, Noel Smith replied, “Apostasy.” All church movements tend toward apostasy; and with time the people will tire of pursuing the Lord.

Though people delight to hear the aspirations of the visionary, they really don’t want to change. Change demands adaptability; change usually means that we are not really in control. If the Spirit of God is directing a movement, we must find where He is working and offer ourselves to Him, rather than thinking that we are able to seize control of the work that He is directing. Change sounds pretty, but it looks ugly. Change is seldom accomplished by those who speak most loudly of their willingness to change.

It sounds judgemental, perhaps even arrogant for anyone to say that few disciples of Jesus Christ exist in the world. However, finding an individual who has died to self that Christ might live in her is daunting. You will undoubtedly recall one particular time when the Master cautioned those who wished to be disciples, “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” [MATTHEW 7:13, 14].

This stern warning anticipated an expanded teaching Jesus delivered on another occasion. “Someone said to [Jesus], ‘Lord, will those who are saved be few?’ And he said to them, ‘Strive to enter through the narrow door. For many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able. When once the master of the house has risen and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and to knock at the door, saying, “Lord, open to us,” then he will answer you, “I do not know where you come from.” Then you will begin to say, “We ate and drank in your presence, and you taught in our streets.” But he will say, “I tell you, I do not know where you come from. Depart from me, all you workers of evil!” In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God but you yourselves cast out. And people will come from east and west, and from north and south, and recline at table in the kingdom of God. And behold, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last’” [LUKE 13:23-30].

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