Thursday, August 02, 2007



Anyone, anywhere can be a follower of Jesus-Jew, Hindu, Buddhist, Animist, Agnostic, Moslem, and even Christians can all be a followers of Jesus. Christians have said for years that a Jew doesn't have to renounce being Jewish in order to follow Jesus. Following Jesus makes a person's Jewishness more full and meaningful. I believe this translates into the many cultures of the world. Following Jesus brings out the fullness of any and all cultures. A Buddhist can be a follower of Jesus. A Moslem can be a follower of Jesus. It's just like a Catholic can be a follower of Jesus without renouncing his cultural background or a Mormon or Baptist or a Methodist. Anyone can be a follower of Jesus and still remain within his or her cultural background and this is quite Biblical as demonstrated yesterday.

NOTE that each of the passages listed yesterday has to do with the good news of Jesus and the Kingdom reaching to the ends of the world-to everyone everywhere.

To take this one step further, there is a spirit of anti-Christ taught in Scripture. "Anti" is not only "against Christ", but "instead of Christ", therefore anything that takes us away from JESUS PLUS NOTHING is not only an add-on, but in the spirit of anti-Christ. This is why Paul says, "I am afraid as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness that your minds might be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ" (II Cor. 11). I wonder if this is what is going on in our ministries.

I don't want to slam any church or Christian leader by what I'm saying, but I do want to be helpful in awakening leaders everywhere to the simplicity and purity of following Jesus. I have pastored a few churches over the years and know how easy it is to fall into the habit-patterns of keeping the "show" going-whether it is the Sunday morning service, the youth program, the children's ministry, and the obligatory prayer-letter back to supporters. Sometimes we get caught in the trap of pleasing our constituencies and are not free to see Jesus and His teachings as they are. We pray for a special releasing of the people of God everywhere to be free to see what Jesus said and did and JUST DO WHAT HE SAYS.

By the way, when Jesus spoke of being hated by the world as He was hated, He was referring to the religious leaders ("They will put you out of their synagogues.") and that's where I receive most of my attacks, from those brothers who ought to know better. Jesus and the kingdom are spread through a few who have been transformed by the power of Jesus.

PERSONAL TRANSFORMATION is what is normally called "conversion" and because of a misunderstanding of what this is, the modern missionary movement has attempted to "convert" the natives throughout the world. This is what I call "doing missionary work the hard way." No missionary, no matter how effective, has the power to produce genuine, spiritual transformation.

The great modern missionary, E. Stanley Jones, was confounded by this problem and was a quick-study on what Jesus would do in other cultures. He said: "In conversion you are not attached primarily to an order, nor to an institution, nor a movement, nor a set of beliefs, nor a code of action-you are attached primarily to a Person, and secondarily to these other things.

To pass from estrangement from God to be a son of God is the basic fact of conversion. That altered relationship with God gives you an altered relationship with yourself, with your brother man, with nature, with the universe."

Recently a blogger by the name of Bill stated this beautifully when he said, "The more I study Jesus' message the more I'm convinced that it is non-religious. In fact, until the modern mission movement that began in the late eighteenth century, Christianity mostly moved into culture rather than converting it. That is, Christian missions more often converted the heart but left much of the culture intact. For the past 200 years, we have been converting whole cultures to the Euro-American style of Christianity. What I'm beginning to understand is that the 'Good News' requires little change in culture-which often includes a religion. The gospel message is relational and spiritual, not religious."

And that relational, spiritual transformation can only happen through the power of Jesus, not Christianity.

Why has the church become a distribution center for religious aspirin? Most people only go to church at baptisms, marriages and funerals-only to be hatched, matched and dispatched.

Why is the church viewed as irrelevant and out of step with the culture? Why is the church so impotent and dying out in the USA at the rate of 70+ churches per week? Why is the church not expanding in our country?

The building and expansion of little local kingdoms called churches has replaced genuine transformation through the good news of Jesus and the Kingdom. Jesus mentioned the "church" only twice and spent His entire ministry teaching the principles of the Kingdom. Christianity, though well-intentioned, has placed the emphasis in the wrong place and is missing the power of personal transformation. The emphasis must be upon Jesus and the Kingdom and churches gather in the name of Jesus to teach and practice the Kingdom lifestyle.

So, it's not so important that a person becomes a Christian or Catholic or Baptist or Adventist or whatever. What's important is to be a follower of Jesus.