Yesterday, the Lord set me free, in a way you may not understand nor appreciate. For a long time, going on FIFTEEN years now, my mind has been bound in a mentality that meant that I couldn’t appreciate true Christianity. I couldn’t appreciate it, because I didn’t know what it was, and what I had been shown as Christianity by the Jesus Christians, I could not reconcile with much of what the rest of the Christian world believed and practiced.
I was burdened to write a post against the Tent Making Myth that is propagated in Christianity, which is a belief that we are all supposed to hold regular jobs for money (because that is what Paul supposedly did throughout his Apostolic ministry!), and give a tithe to the Church for the ministry of the Gospel. I have believed contrary to this for a long time, and have wanted to write about my beliefs on the issue of tithing… But now I don’t have to. It would suffice to say that Tithing is an Old Testament practice, much like Circumcision, that is neither expected, required nor desired of Saints of the New Covenant to uphold (Read THE BETTER COVENANT).
After writing that post, so many things about Christianity have fallen into place for me, and my world has opened up! When I started writing, I really didn’t know how I was going to address the issue, but as usually happens, the Holy Spirit led me and fed me with all the information I was able to share through that post. I was nourished and I was blessed.
I am no longer bound by the Jesus Christians’ belief that it is sinful to have paid employment. I know, SHOCKER right? Nor am I bound to the notion that the only true way for Christians to live is in community! That’s quite a heavy weight that was lifted, and I am still wrapping my mind around it!!! For years, I’ve been in limbo on these issues, not fully understanding the will of God. But now, I have a clearer view.
The challenge of religion is that we tend to want to create a blueprint that everyone must follow to be right. Even as we are following Jesus, The Way, we begin to pre-empt His movement, because of how He did things before… And before long, we have strayed from the right path, and are following our own way. It still looks wise and true to us, and we may be fruitful for a while, but we have disconnected from the Vine! We will surely be given to error.
There are two main types of error that people following Jesus make. Those who are worldly in their mindset, are prone to be given over to greed. And those who are religious in their mindset, are prone to be given to pride! The worldly seek comfort, prosperity, popularity and acceptance, while the religious take pride in their separation, goodness, how much they deny themselves and suffer and all sorts of appearances of righteousness.
Christ calls us to walk in the middle. Be holy (meaning to be set apart), but be in the world – just as He was – carrying on His work and preaching the Gospel with our lives (Matt 5:14-16). Contrary to religious belief, the Narrow Way we are to walk is not a path in the wilderness!
This is a constant battle and a wrestle, because in the middle, we will deal with the world, and we will handle money, and we will enjoy life… The temptation will always be there to indulge in more of the ‘good’ (read enjoyable) stuff, and to foster a lifestyle that sustains such prosperous living. And then we actually stop living by faith. But this is how our righteousness is proven. By how we can be in the world, but not be of the world (John 17:15-18, 1 Cor 5:9-10)! And this is how we can minister to others, and bring them into the Light of Christ.
The religious, however, think they are smarter than God, and rather than live within this tension (which requires that they remain in tune with God and reliant on His Spirit), they remove the world all together! They separate or isolate themselves. They shun anything that smells of prosperity, so that they will not be tempted and give in to greed. But they do not see their pride and self-righteousness. Their love is not proven, because it is easy to love those who are like you…and if you only surround yourself with such and live within a cocoon, how can your love be tested and your character be developed?
Working in a job and receiving wages, doesn’t mean that you are working for Mammon, any more than living in a commune with other Christians who don’t make money mean that you are working for God. We are called to bear fruit, and there are different types of soils and conditions for seeds to grow. We can ONLY bear good fruit, however, if we abide in Jesus (the only fertile soil – John 15:1-5). And in our walk with Him, He will take us through different conditions, that will help us grow and bear more fruit…
Jesus said that we can know true Believers by their fruit (Matt 7:16-20). We ought not to judge “according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment” (John 7:24). The fruit is not the greatness of our works, nor wealth, nor popularity, nor our congregation. The fruit is “…love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law” (Gal 5:22-23). Any soul that doesn’t bear fruit will be cut off (John 15:6).
“…work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure” (Phil 2:12-13).
So I would say, follow Jesus and don’t try to prescribe anyone else’s walk of faith. Point and lead others to Jesus, and He will show them the Way. Don’t look at the multitude of your works (Matt 7:22-23), nor fall into the sneer of greed (1 Tim 6:6-10). Follow the narrow way with all sincerity (Matt 7:13-14), knowing that it is by grace that you have been saved (Eph 2:8-10)!
Photo credit: http://www.basrijksen.com
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