Give Yourself to Others …

Posts Tagged ‘relationship

Within the Christian tradition where I was raised — the Church of Christ — there was an often spoken, but sometimes unspoken assumption that the Text of the New Testament was the Covenant.

I think that’s not correct.

The writer of Hebrews described the new covenant in chapter 10, verses 16-17.  But actually the writer is quoting Jeremiah 31:31-34.

There is a sense Jeremiah admits the old covenant was written down … in stone … in the form of the Ten Commandments.  But then he goes on to describe the new covenant that is coming:

I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 34 And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”

God is going to write the new covenant on our heart … He didn’t say, he’d put the covenant on paper … he said he’d write it on our hearts.

And yet, so many believers look to the Text and argue about doctrine and other things.  As I wrote in the comments on Jay Guin’s blog,, when he wrote about these verses:

One of the implications of this passage is how it affects our use of the Text … we have often equated the NT Text to the covenant. The NT Text reveals the covenant, but is not itself the covenant.

Is your relationship with God wrapped up with the Text or is it engulfed by Jesus?

I don’t think there is a doctrinally-based message that draws people to Jesus.

We cannot convince people to follow him.  We cannot persuade them.  People must seek to know about Jesus.  When they seek him … then we can help them to find him.

I’m sure this has been different at other times.  And it may be different in other countries … a friend who lives in China, tells me it is different there.

But I noticed this phenomenon in the work my wife and I do with marriages.

We have noticed marriages that need help, but have learned thru experience, we cannot help until people come to us.  If we go to them, we have no credibility.  We have no stature to share anything.

But if a couple comes to us for help with their marriage, there is a lot we can say.  We can say it much more directly … more pointedly … and sometimes even more toughly.  Because the couple has come to us and asked.

The weakness of the gospel message in the United States is that everyone thinks they’ve heard it before and knows what it is.  So, until our lives provide evidence … radical evidence … of something that is out of the ordinary … until people are so moved by watching us that they come to us saying, “You are really out of the ordinary … please explain!”

Not until they come to us can we tell them about Jesus.

So, what are the words necessary for evangelism?

Hey, tell me why you’re so different from everyone else I know?

You just need to watch this.  It’s sad, inspiring and will bring tears.

This is a great post by John Mark Hicks, who twice has suffered pre-mature death of family.  It speaks to the sadness of such loss in a way that only someone who has experienced it has the credibility to speak.

Jesus never said this “loving” business would be easy. It’s anything but easy. And the question I’ve posed in the title of this post is just one example of how difficult it can be.

And I suppose the answer to the question lies in the manner of the disagreement.

It’s possible to get emotional and irrational when you disagree with people — especially if the topic of the disagreement focuses on deeply held beliefs — and that describes what most of us believe about spiritual matters — they are deeply held beliefs.

This is the moment to recall Romans 14:4 (NIV) – “Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls.”

That is to say, God is your judge. And God is the judge of everyone else. You are not their judge. They are not your judge.

And my relationship with God is not based on how many people believe the same as I believe. It is not a popularity contest. It is not majority rules.

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9 [NIV]).

Our relationship with God is his gift to each of us. All he asks of us our faith. And Gods gift to me is not dependent upon his gift to you. Nor is yours dependent upon his gift to me.

“Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.” (1 Peter 3:15 [NIV])

You need to know what you believe why you believe it. It must be your faith, not the faith of your “church” or the faith of your “evangelist” or the faith of your “pastor” or the faith of your spouse.

Your faith.

If your faith is your own, then you can disagree without being disagreeable. You can give yourself to others for their good expecting nothing in return.

After all, isn’t that what Jesus did. He loved all of us so much he died for us — all of us — even the ones who didn’t believe in him then, and those who don’t believe in him now. Certainly, he died for all of us who believe in him, but disagree about how to understand what the New Testament teaches.

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