What does it mean to be like Jesus?

We shouldn’t be surprised that things are getting worse, should we? If I remember correctly, the Bible explicitly told us that would happen (2 Timothy 3:13). But when things seem to be falling apart in the world around us, we have to constantly re-evaluate what it means to be like Jesus.

Does being like Jesus means we have to be a Republican? Does it mean we have to hate the LGBTQ community? Does it mean that we should cloister ourselves under the ground and wait for the end of Armageddon so we don’t have to expose ourselves to so much sin?

It seems to me that even a lot of people who claim to follow Jesus Christ are confused about how to be like Him in our current world-wide circumstances. Especially Americans. *Mentally preparing for backlash against this post.* I see people posting things like, “Well, they said this,” or “This person said that.” You know what? I don’t care. I want to know what Jesus said. And so here is a list of things Jesus told us to do as a reminder for me and anyone else who needs it.

Photo by Bruno Martins on Unsplash

What does it mean to be like Jesus?

I’m not going to ease into this, so if it smarts… good. I hope it hurts you just as much as it hurts me. Let’s feel the pain together and try to be more like Him, shall we? Feel the burn, people.

“But Jesus called them to Himself and said to them, ‘You know that those who are considered rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant. And whoever of you desires to be first shall be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.’” – Mark 10:42-45 NKJV

Whatever we think we’re entitled to… we aren’t. It’s just that simple. We are instructed to be servants. We are instructed to be last. Why? Because if we do that, we’re in good company with Jesus… the One who gave “His life a ransom for many.” Jesus sacrificed His own rights and entitlements unto death, and He’s the only one that actually deserved worship, praise, and any other thing He could be given. What should that fact do to our perspectives? God, I pray you would break us. Help us to see things the way You do.

“’Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them. And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses.’” – Mark 11:24-25 NKJV

This verse is much more than a simple exhortation. Instead, this verse invites us to investigate to the very last recesses of our souls and ask the question, “Do I have anything against ANYONE?” But let’s be specific. I want to ask a question I think every single one of us needs to answer before our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ… Is there a specific group of people we hate? Do we justify our hatred by saying that this group is a group of sinners? Our entire world is one large group of sinners. I am a sinner. You are a sinner. We are all sinners. Jesus came to us while we were still His enemy in sin and died on the cross to cover our sin debt! Why do we assume He can’t do that for everyone?

How many of our prayers (unselfish prayers that honor God and fulfill His purposes in our lives) are hindered because we have things against others? It’s a question worth thinking about.

I’m just going to leave this one here.

“‘Therefore do not worry, saying, “What shall we eat?” or “What shall we drink?” or “What shall we wear?” ‘For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.’” – Matthew 6:31-34 NKJV

Also… here’s a verse I think most of us don’t believe anymore.

“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” – Matthew 5:10 NKJV

Photo by Drew Hays on Unsplash

How Much Like Him Are We?

Maybe, like me, you’re frustrated with the state of the Church. Every day I have to resist the urge to become disillusioned with other Christians who say racist things or defend hateful positions or blame victims for being violated. It’s hard. They are not accurately representing Christ and that makes actually representing Him a lot harder. These days when I tell non-Christians that I am a Christian their enthusiastic response of meeting someone new dulls. That breaks my heart because it shouldn’t be that way. Jesus was passionate, compassionate, loving, and full of merciful truth. How much like that are we, His followers?

A lot of time I just want to keep to myself as to avoid all the posturing and arguments, but I know that’s not the answer. The only thing that gets me through, that helps me to emerge from my introvert cocoon everyday is to remember what Jesus said, what He did, and how He still transforms hopeless bitter people like I used to be into liberated loving children of His Kingdom.

The Short Version

I know you want me to answer the questioned I posed at the beginning of this post. I could do multiple posts on each (and in some cases I have covered these topics in past posts or in one of my books)… but the short answers are: Jesus would not be a Republican (or any politician… He’s the King), Jesus loves the LGBTQ community and wants to see them come to a saving knowledge of Himself, and to answer the third question… no bunker… we should avoid separating from people who aren’t in the church. In the world, not of the world doesn’t translate to completely apart form the world.

May the verses shared in this post penetrate our hearts, minds, and souls to be the change we need to see in today’s church body. Amen?

“As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” – Jesus (via John 9:5 NKJV)

Sincerely adorned,

Kristin

Why Are You Here – A Christmas Post

christmas-card-2016_sm

This year, Christmas has eluded me like some sort of convoluted puzzle box. I’ve been trying to figure out a way to put this specific season into words; because Jesus. But to be honest, it wasn’t until just now that everything hit me. I’m sitting here, really listening to Christmas music for the first time, thinking of what Jesus did, and what I want to say to you, my friend. The one I love. The person who knows me and sees me live life.

A majority of my friends aren’t believers. They don’t believe Jesus needed to take their sins on Him when He died on the cross because they don’t believe that God is holy and demands holiness. Most don’t believe in God at all. I live in a very Orthodox culture, and while most people will say they believe, they’re struggling to stay positive this holiday season. Hope is missing. Is that you this Christmas? Maybe you’re struggling to find hope. I used to feel the same way.

People ask me this question every single day, “Why are you here?” It isn’t obvious to them. Why would anyone with three kids leave their home country for a different country where things are pretty much falling apart and they can’t communicate well? It makes little sense. And the answer I give is always the same, “We’re here to help.” And I say that sincerely each time. I think many Christians would be disappointed that I don’t at once launch into the gospel message but I don’t, because I care. If I did, one of the two things would happen. The first is that I would lose this new person’s trust forever. The second is that I would lose their trust for an unknowable span of time. So I leave it. I let them watch me. I know they’re watching.

I know you’ve been watching. And I want to tell you that Jesus is the reason I can love you the way I do. Jesus is the reason I can care about you and make you feel like you’re important. You are, but I wouldn’t know or understand that without Jesus. And when Jesus came, I feel like His answer was the same as mine, “I’m here to help.” It didn’t make sense for Him to come, did it? He left perfection for a place that was falling apart. And He couldn’t communicate well. No one understood Him. Really understood. But He came. And in that same spirit of love, He sent me. That’s why I’m here. To tell you about Him. And I’ve been waiting for the perfect moment, and if you’re reading this right now, then I feel like this is it. Jesus can only be one of four things… a lunatic, a liar, a legend, or the Lord. I believe there is overwhelming evidence that the last is the right answer, but if you’re unconvinced and you want to talk about it… let’s talk. I won’t get mad, no matter what you say. I won’t stop loving you, even if you choose not to believe. I just want to talk to you, because I care about you, and Jesus came to save you from your sin. Jesus loves you, and if you were the only person He needed to die for on the cross, He still would have done it. But because I know how powerful the gospel is (infinitely more powerful than any personal testimony I could give you), here is the gospel. For your consideration:

“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” -John 1:14

“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” -Mark 10:45

“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” -Romans 5:8

“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” -Romans 6:23

“There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.” -Romans 8:1

“He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?” -Romans 8:32

“For He made Him who knew no sin [to be] sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” -2 Corinthians 5:21

“For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich.” -2 Corinthians 8:9

“This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief.” -1 Timothy 1:15

“In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son [to be] the propitiation for our sins.” -1 John 4:10

Merry Christmas.

Sincerely adorned,

Kristin

 

The verses listed in this post were featured in the post linked here:

http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/ten-gospel-verses-to-keep-warm

A Heart Without A Home

Lately I have been discouraged. Many of my frustrations have revolved around Facebook. The online thought board is reflection of deeper issues. I have no home. Two things happened to me this week. First, there was a single event with a popular news personality. Yes, I got into a debate with someone that has the masses behind them, and they insulted me, repeatedly. That was fun. Secondly, there have been a series of events running through my newsfeed about racism. The anger and hatred have finally pierced my normally thick, peach skin.

a heart without a home

I Don’t Fit

As I look on the posts and news articles that flow over the ocean via the internet into my computer from my home country, I feel lost. My argument with the news personality really highlighted this, because normally I can somewhat relate to Christian culture in the US. But this news personality went on a sensationalist rant about an article that a university student had written. He called her article stupid, over and over. I rarely follow his links, but I thought I should read the original article to see what could possibly warrant that kind of attack on such a young person. I didn’t agree with the proposition of her article, which was that the government should pay for feminine products in pursuit of gender equality. However, in the article she raised an interesting point about homeless women not being able to afford tampons and pads, and I thought, that is interesting. Something that is interesting should not be called stupid, no matter how much you disagree with the rest of it. My comment said as much, and that the blogger had become a sensationalist after signing on with a popular news network. His response was dismissive and sensational (which is ironic) and his fans attacked me and called me stupid and unintelligent. They called me a hater. Normally I wouldn’t care. It wouldn’t bother me. But most of these people claim to be followers of Jesus Christ. Christians should not gather so quickly on a bandwagon in the name of politics to publicly shame a college girl, or a random online commenter (me in this case). Because I refuse to polarize people, there is no place for me in supposed Christian communities like these. I’m a misfit.

I Must Be A Liar

Then there is the issue of race. I’m white. Apparently that means I am racist. I did not have any control over where my ancestors were born, just like you did not. The amount of hatred aimed at white people by others is not helping the racist situation in the United States. It is only making it worse. Trying to shame people for being white is just as racist as trying to shame them for being any other race. This approach will never have a positive outcome. It was Martin Luther Kind Jr. that said, “Darkness can never drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” It is so true, but I’m not allowed to quote a black preacher because I’m white. However, it is also a principle that we see repeated in the Bible.

“If someone says, I love God, and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?” -1 John 4:20

“Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all sins.” -Proverbs 10:12

“A soft answer turns away wrath, but a hard word stirs up anger.” -Proverbs 15:1

So what do I suggest as an alternative to shaming every white person in the United States as a racist? I would say that we should follow the example of Jesus Christ. We love, and pray for those, yes even those that despise and hate us.

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” -John 13:34-35

I am an immigrant living in another country and culture where I have no advantages and I struggle to communicate in a language that is not my own. I don’t consider myself to be racist, but that doesn’t matter. My children are white, and that does not inherently make them racist. But maybe they will be counted as the rare exception because they have not grown up in the US. Regardless of if they are considered racist or not, I teach them to love others and that other cultures are not wrong because their choices differ from ours. When they are mean or hateful to anyone, I teach them it is wrong, and there are consequences.

You may be a cynic and assume I am a liar. Or perhaps you and optimist and think that I deceive my own heart. In this situation even the optimist must condemn me of racism simply because I was born a white person in the United States. Either way I am an enigma that cannot exist.

Then there is the issue of nationalistic pride that exists in every other country, but let’s pretend that the United States is the only country that exists, just like we always do.

A Heart Without A Home

It has become clear to me over the lasts few years that I no longer have any place in the States, where I was born. I’m too defensive of other cultures for the nominal Christians, and too Christian and white for everyone else. Well, you may say, at least you have Europe, where you live. But I don’t fit here either. The truth is that I will never fit anywhere on this planet again.

Heaven is the only home I claim, and one day my heart will be home there as well, when I am gone from this world.

Sincerely adorned,

Kristin Spencer