Monday, April 2, 2012

The Essence of Following Jesus is this.....

Hope Chapel Hermosa Beach, CA.
I was talking with a friend about church recently. He and I had been on staff at the same church (only at different times). Both of us are a bit worn-out with the church scene--and don't take this the wrong way because I KNOW there are AWESOME churches out there. Really, I do. Often, I think back to some of the churches that Renee and I started in So. California as well as NH, where we engaged in loving God and loving one another. We had real life-transforming fellowship.

I am also reminded of my time spent at Hope Chapel in Hermosa Beach where my wife and I experienced healthy, vibrant Christianity. It made me want to spend my life serving as a Pastor because I saw what a functional (as opposed to dysfunctional) church really looked like. It was and still is an amazing community of people under the leadership of Zac Nazarian that has made an impact on the South Bay in Los Angeles as well as around the world!

But it's hard to find a church like a Hope Chapel in Paducah, Kentucky. Churches here are mostly Baptist and often worship is nothing more than 3 hymns with announcements sandwiched in the middle somewhere.

So my friend told me that he had boiled the essence of Christianity down to the answer Jesus gave to a lawyer who was trying to justify himself:
Matthew 22:35-40 (NIV)
35 One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question:
36 "Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?"
37 Jesus replied: "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.'
38 This is the first and greatest commandment.
39 And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'
40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments."
Jesus boils all of Christianity down to 2 simple requirements:
1. Love God which includes worshiping the Lord with our words and actions (from the heart).
2. Love your neighbor which includes fellowship, servant evangelism, loving those who are strangers in our midst, etc. (Acts 2:42, 46). How much real fellowship do we have on a Sunday morning? IMHO, real fellowship happens around a meal that is shared together as we see Our Lord doing so often in the New Testament. Hospitality was part of the Jewish life (Romans 12:13)
As far as loving God, I believe that first and foremost, we are to be worshipers. In the prayer that Jesus taught his disciples to pray which was basically giving them them the order for what should be included in our prayers, he starts off with "Our Father in heaven, Holy is Your Name. Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven."

Today, I leave you with this: If we want to worship the Lord, we have to KNOW the Lord. The sad truth is that too many Christians know very little about Yeshua, the Messiah, Our Lord, the King of kings. The only names that most Christians know for Jesus is Savior or Lord. But as Jesus tells us in John 17:3,  
3 Now this is eternal life: that they may KNOW you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.
How well do you KNOW the One True God? When it comes to worshiping the Lord, what names do you call Him? For example, in Hebrews 1:2-4, here are the 7 titles given to Jesus. Meditate on these titles and incorporate them into your worship. I don't know as much about the Lord as I should--but my desire is to get to know Him better and to know the names and titles that have been given to Him. I'm convinced that those who are truly saved will spend time "getting to KNOW HIM." Here in just 3 verses of Hebrews 1, we are told that Jesus is:
1) heir of all things
2) creator
3) reflection of God's glory
4) exact representation of the Father (stamped with God's nature)
5) sustainer of all things by His Word
6) redeemer: cleansed us from our sins
7) superior to the angels in rank and rule
I'll continue this with one last post on worship this Thursday....stay tuned and have a great week!

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