It's a Covenant Thing
When people come from an attendance-based environment and its paradigms, they’re challenged with the commands of Christ. They’re challenged that those commands aren’t just “Bible verses” but they are real! Jesus meant what He said, and it’s for us to take to heart and apply.
Most people we relate to are still in attendance-based situations or just off on their own. We have to face whatever their paradigms are. They have a paradigm of, “It’s not convenient right now to obey those commandments,” or, “It doesn’t suit my lifestyle,” or, “What you are saying doesn’t suit my opinion or my interpretation of that Scripture.”
For instance, people have trouble with what it means to have “a hundred fathers, mothers, lands, possessions” (Mark 10:29-30). So, I constantly find that I’m challenging others to define Family properly. Family is the second-birth Family—those that do the will of Christ. Those are my brothers and sisters, and I always find that this is immediately challenged. People say, “What do you mean by that?” For me, spiritual Family means much more to me than physical family. There’s so much more value to it! So, we’re always challenged by the paradigm that we’re up against.
Most of the people we meet have a “church life,” a “home life,” and a “social life.” They have all these different lives and different rules and different aspects. But for me, it’s only one life, whether I’m at work or home or wherever I am—it’s one life. The same “rules” apply wherever I am. It’s been a challenge for us, trying to convey that.
As you were mentioning, it’s taking up the responsibility of being an ambassador. When someone carries the name of Christ, there’s an immediate expectation of what we should see coming from that person’s life. We expect to see some evidence or fruit that indicates they belong to Christ. When we ask or probe, sometimes we’re met with something different. We were talking with one guy recently about the Lord, and he switched on his TV to watch soccer and said, “Look, it’s Saturday today not Sunday.”
Did you say something to him about it?
Yeah, I said, “Jesus is our LIFE! I can’t not talk about Him. I can’t switch it off as if it were the switch on the television.” We get accused of being fanatical or overboard or having “too much Christianity.” You know what I mean? It’s the mentality that the “club hours” are between 9 and 5. Yet there is so much more to this life!
I began to realize that Jesus comes into our lives and He takes over all the spheres of our lives, whether it’s home or work or whatever. He begins to penetrate and expand His authority in my life and in my relationships. There are certain relationships that I had to say goodbye to. I had to say, “You know what? I am all about the Lord. If my relationship with you cannot cross that barrier and all we can do is talk about sports and we cannot go deep, then I’ve got to say goodbye.”
It was a challenge as I began to realize that this is not a religion I’ve joined—this is my LIFE! This is eat, sleep, talk, everything. I wake up in the morning, and these are the things that we’re going to be talking about and going after. It’s everything and it’s going to be known in our lives all the time.
And that’s really about a Covenant thing, not just a commitment thing. The Covenant is, “From the least to the greatest they shall all know Me.” “I’ll take their hearts of stone and I’ll turn them into hearts of flesh, or softness.” “I’ll pour My spirit on them.” “I’ll cause them to keep My commands and decrees.” Those are Covenantal issues. When a second Birth happens, it’s a miracle! And the beauty of it is that we won’t be able to help the Jesus from coming out. If I don’t have any interest in being radical about it, then I’m not even in! That’s pretty cool. It’s not a club that I join and one of the rules is that I’m supposed to be radical. :)
It’s not any problem to talk about football. We’re not afraid to and so spiritual that we never talk about it. But you’ll want to say something to the person who is always talking about football and doesn’t seem to know Jesus, though he claims to. Maybe you say something to him in the moment that he’s talking about football, or maybe you let him go on talking, but at some point you have to ask him, “Did Jesus have any day or time or event during the week where He wasn’t Jesus anymore?”
The point is that Jesus wasn’t “committed to Jesus.” Jesus was Jesus. The New Covenant is, “I will put My Spirit in you. My Father and I will make our home in you” (John 14). So, that person is asking you to not let the Jesus in you be Jesus today for a block of time. He can’t look at you and say, “You’re wacko. You’re overcommitted.” And you can’t look at him and say, “You’re not committed enough”—because it’s not about commitment. This is about a Covenant issue. It’s about whether or not Jesus lives inside. Jesus always wants to talk about Himself and His Father. He doesn’t say anything He doesn’t hear the Father saying (John 8, 12, 14). That’s the Jesus who either lives in you or doesn’t live in you.
Talking about football isn’t a problem, but having little interest in Jesus doesn’t mean they’re “not committed enough.” That means there’s a good chance Jesus doesn’t live inside of a person who turns it on and off—unless they’ve just totally grieved and quenched the Spirit. Jesus doesn’t turn it on and off. He’s a person. He’s not a topic to be committed to. He’s a person, so either the person has Jesus inside or he doesn’t.
That’s what John was talking about in 1 John. He gives about twelve things to look for if Jesus is living inside of a person. If Jesus is only a topic that a person is committed to, then a lot of those marks won’t be consistent or won’t be there at all. For instance, the person will defend their sin. They won’t love other people. They won’t walk in the light. There’s a whole bunch of “tests” that indicate whether Jesus lives in a person or not.
In every world religion you’re either committed to the club or you’re not. There are always peripheral people who are a little bit committed, but they’re still in the club because they pay their dues and they attend the meeting. New Testament Christianity isn’t like that! It is unlike any other world religion. The cool thing about Christianity is that a miracle takes place—the Creator of the universe now lives inside of you and He didn’t before. I might be a baby Christian, but when you talk to me about something, the Jesus inside of me resonates and He wakes me up and I say, “You’re right, I was stupid. I’m sorry. Would you forgive me?”