Saturday, March 18, 2006

When We Know We're Weak...

God calls each born-again believer in Christ into evangelism. It isn't a suggestion, but a command. Before his ascension into heaven, Jesus told his disciples:

Mark 16:15 - And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.

Why did Jesus make this his last command?

Mark 16:16 - He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.

We know that God doesn't want anyone to perish:

2 Peter 3:9 - The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

The secular humanistic environment that we often find ourselves in does not look upon evangelism as something positive. Rather, it is often labeled in a negative manner and called unwanted proselytizing. Therefore, sometimes it is necessary to pick and choose when, where, and with whom Christians should share the gospel. I could list many examples, but you probably could think of some on your own.

Christians often have the opportunity to plant seeds which might lead a person to the gospel. I have found that the Lord has placed many people in my path for this purpose. I have even had times where I have said, "No Lord, not him," as was once the case with a thug teenaged boy. But the Holy Spirit sometimes does not leave us alone when he plants someone upon our hearts for the purpose of sharing the gospel!

Christian friend, has this happened to you? I'm sure it has...many times in fact. I hope you will share your individual experiences here in the comment section.

John 16:28 tells us from where and from Whom Jesus came, and where he was going at the time of the ascension:

John 16:28 - I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world: again, I leave the world, and go to the Father.

He then left the disciples and every born-again Christian the Holy Spirit who indwells our hearts.

Ephesians 1:13 - In whom ye also [trusted], after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,

Romans 8:9 - But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.

Romans 8:14 - For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.

1 Corinthians 3:13 - Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and [that] the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?

1 John 4:2 - Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God:

1 John 4:3 - And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that [spirit] of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.

1 John 4:4 - Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.

1 John 4:5 - They are of the world: therefore speak they of the world, and the world heareth them

1 John 4:6 - We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error.

There are many more verses that describe the Holy Spirit, His work in the world, and how one becomes indwelled with Him. The ones listed above are meant to convey just a quick summary.

These verses help us to better understand what is meant by the words "for when I am weak, then am I strong" in 2 Corinthians 12:10:

2 Corinthians 12:9, 10 - And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.

When we know we're weak, we allow God to work through and in us as He desires.

Jamieson, Fausett & Brown have a great commentary on these verses:

"9. said--literally, "He hath said," implying that His answer is enough [ALFORD]. is sufficient--The trial must endure, but the grace shall also endure and never fail thee [ALFORD], ( Deu 33:25 ).

The Lord puts the words into Paul's mouth, that following them up he might say, "O Lord, Thy grace is sufficient for me" [BENGEL].

my strength--Greek, "power." is made perfect--has its most perfect manifestation. in weakness--

Do not ask for sensible strength, FOR My power is perfected in man's "strengthlessness" (so the Greek). The "for" implies, thy "strengthlessness" (the same Greek as is translated "weakness"; and in
2Cr 12:10 , "infirmities") is the very element in which My "power" (which moves coincident with "My grace") exhibits itself more perfectly. So that Paul instead of desiring the infirmity to "depart," "rather" henceforth "glories in infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest (Greek, 'tabernacle upon,' cover my infirmity all over as with a tabernacle; compare Greek, Jhn 1:12 ) upon" him.

This effect of Christ's assurance on him appears,
2Cr 4:7 1Cr 2:3, 4 ; compare 1Pe 4:14 . The "My" is omitted in some of the oldest manuscripts; the sense is the same, "power" (referring to God's power) standing absolutely, in contrast to "weakness" (put absolutely, for man's weakness).

Paul often repeats the word "weakness" or "infirmity" (the eleventh, twelfth, and thirteenth chapters) as being Christ's own word. The Lord has more need of our weakness than of our strength: our strength is often His rival; our weakness, His servant, drawing on His resources, and showing forth His glory. Man's extremity is God's opportunity; man's security is Satan's opportunity. God's way is not to take His children out of trial, but to give them strength to bear up against it (
Psa 88:7 Jhn 17:15 ).

10. take pleasure in--too strongly. Rather as the Greek, "I am well contented in." infirmities--the genus. Two pairs of species follow, partly coming from "Satan's messenger," partly from men. reproaches--"insults." when--in all the cases just specified. then--then especially. strong--"powerful" in "the power of Christ" (
2Cr 12:9 2Cr 13:4 Hbr 11:34 )."

With that as background information, I am now prepared to share a recent incident where I was attempting to work on a weakness that I have. That weakness is knowing when to be silent!

I have several, wonderful Christian friends who have helped me immensely in this area of weakness. Tammy, Stephen and Susan are three who come to mind. Their advice has been wonderful. Although I sometimes fail to implement such advice, their words of wisdom are often recalled by me when I find myself in certain situations. The following is an example of such a situation.

My daughter was due to have new headshots done for two acting agencies. The last time we had them done she was only 15. She has changed a lot since then and now that she is 18 she can participate in older roles. For this, she needs a look that will capture and show the ability to portray the range of a 16 to 22 year old

We met at the photographer's home and the makeup artist helped my daughter with her makeup and clothes selection. One of the first things I noticed in the beautiful studio room of the home was a huge Buddha statue in front of the fireplace. I thought, oh boy...

Next, as I sat in a chair drinking a cup of coffee, I noticed a bookcase nearby. While scanning the titles, I saw two Bibles! I felt drawn to select one of the Bibles, but decided to choose the book on the history of Hollywood. I actually thought to myself that I wasn't really there for any other purpose than to support my daughter as she goes through the photo session.

We grabbed 5 outfits and headed to the car. The photographer took us to several different locations. We were gone for two hours and he took 350 digital shots!

The first location was an historic Christian church. The makeup artist made some comments about it, but I just listened and agreed that it was beautiful.

Next, we went to the Jewish section of this area and since it was the day of Sabbath, many Jewish men, women and children were exiting the two temples on the block. They appeared to be Orthodox Jews. Most of the men had beards, were dressed in black clothing with black top hats. The women were dressed modestly in black or dark clothing and the boys had yarmulkes on their heads.

I was a bit surprised by the photographer's comment to me. He said, "Isn't religion funny?" I wanted so bad to say, "It's not about religion, but relationship." But I kept silent.

When I told this part at my Bible study, my friend Tammy exclaimed, "That's huge! You don't understand how huge that was for Chris not to say anything!" Heh heh...I was doing well in her eyes at that point.

The third area we visited was near a main street that had a huge billboard across the street. It was announcing the return of The Sopranos on HBO. Karina, the makeup artist asked me if I watch the Sopranos. I told her no, I don't. She asked me if it was because they use the F word a lot. I said that was part of it. Then she asked why I refuse to watch such a popular show?

Uh oh. I could be silent no more. I told her that I am a Christian. I explained to her that vulgar language was not acceptable to me and something I don't want to hear on a non-stop basis. But what was even more disturbing is the cavalier way the characters in the show constantly take the name of the Lord in vain.

She said, "You're a Christian?"

The tone of voice was one of disbelief.

As I was sharing this story with the Bible study group, my friend Tammy piped up and said, "she probably thought that you don't have three heads so how could it be that you are a Christian?" Tammy doesn't even know how accurately she described the look on that woman's face!

After a moment of awkward silence, I said that one of the Ten Commandments of God is not to take His name in vain. People often don't even think about it when they say "Jesus Christ" as a curse word.

At this point, I thought I was doing well. But then...I added...

"You see, people find power in saying that name, even if they don't recognize who Jesus really is and are just using the name of Jesus Christ in the form of a curse word. Did you ever ask yourself why is that? There must be truth and power to His name. We don't hear people saying, "Mohammed dammit," or "Oh Buddha!"

Right after I let out that last comment my mind raced back to the vision of that Buddha statue in front of their fireplace! I thought, "oh no...went to far again!"

But my Bible study leader thought differently. After everyone was finished laughing, she elegantly pointed out that before she became a Christian she often said (or heard others say) the Lord's name in vain and never thought anything about it. When she learned that it hurts the heart of God and that as Christians we are commanded not to do such a thing, she worked on not saying God's name in anger ever again. Even the simple pronouncement of "Oh God" is offensive when not used in prayer or in a reverent manner. His name should be glorified and expressed in worship, not in anger or as a curse word.

Karina didn't say anything. In fact, right at that moment, Greg , the photographer, called us to the car so we could go to the final location for shooting pictures. I was grateful for the segue!

We drove to the final location, then back to Greg's house to collect all the clothes we left behind. I paid them for their services and they both hugged my daughter and I! We had spent 3 hours together and found that we knew a lot of the same people in the industry (i.e. acting coaches, acting agents, other photographers). Greg even mentioned that he thought my daughter has that kind of wholesome look and could very well play the part of Marsha in an upcoming Brady Bunch movie!

Back to the topic at hand. I felt better after my Bible study leader shared her comments. But I still thought that I blew it and possibly went to far. OK...share your thoughts!



Susan Smith said...

Christine said: "One of the first things I noticed in the beautiful studio room of the home was a huge Buddha statue in front of the fireplace." When I read this… I laughed out loud!

Christine said: "I wanted so bad to say, "It's not about religion, but relationship." But I kept silent.” Your spiritual ears were tuned perfectly at this point. You displayed love, kindness, gentleness and self-discipline by your silence. See how silence can speak volumes!

Christine said: "You see, people find power in saying that name, even if they don't recognize who Jesus really is and are just using the name of Jesus Christ in the form of a curse word. Did you ever ask yourself why is that? There must be truth and power to His name. We don't hear people saying, "Mohammed dammit," or "Oh Buddha!" Then Christine continued:

"Right after I let out that last comment my mind raced back to the vision of that Buddha statue in front of their fireplace! I thought, "oh no...went to far again!""

What a bold and persuasive statement, Christine! No, you did not go too far and your Holy Spirit inspired words of truth were “right on target”… When we obey with silence and humility, then God prepares hearts and minds to receive the words He gives us to speak. Praise His Name! Much love to the West Coast from the Holy Land. Good night. (ss)

Christinewjc said...

Thanks Susan.

You mean that I don't need to be "politically correct" all the time? (he he)

Thanks for your encouragement here...I often need it! I have you to thank for your assistance in recognizing when to be silent and when to speak!

As you so accurately pointed out, we thank God that 'He does prepare our hearts and minds to receive the words He gives us to speak.' Without Him, we would all be lost! He alone deserves all the praise, glory and honor!

Love & God Bless,