Monday, December 03, 2018

What Kind of Christian Are You?

Text: Matthew 13:1 - 20; Mark 4:1 - 20; Luke 8:4 - 15

Jesus often spoke in parables. A parable was an earthly story with a spiritual lesson. It was used to hide truth from people who really didn't want to find or hear truth. It was also used to reveal truth to those who really wanted to encounter truth. Large crowds often came to Jesus, but everyone did not accept or respond positively to His teaching. People had different motives for coming to Jesus: some people wanted to be healed; some wanted someone else to be healed (a friend, a son, a daughter as examples); some wanted to be fed; some wanted to see a supernatural sign.

This parable deals with four possible places where seed fell. Some seed fell on the path and was eaten by birds. Some seed fell on rocky places where there was a lack of soil. Some seed fell among thorns and was choked by the weeds. Some fell on good soil and produced a good crop. The aim of this parable is to communicate truth. Jesus makes that clear when He says that he who has an ear let him hear. Spiritual truth is spiritually discerned. The mind gives us an intellectual understanding of words, but it is the Spirit who gives us the real understanding of God's truth.

The message, as was interpreted by Jesus, is the message of the kingdom - truths about the reign of God, God's plan, purpose and salvation. In His interpretation, Jesus identified four types of people.
The Indifferent Christian

Jesus described the seed that fell on the path as the person who does not understand. In reality, this person's heart is so hard that he doesn't want to understand. There are many people who hear the word, but don't receive it. The Word must be accompanied by faith, for without faith, the Word lacks the ability to transform lives. In church, some people hear the Word, but they don't take the time to understand the Word. They are not open to the conviction of the Holy Spirit. We can harden our own hearts and take the Word for granted. We can shut out the preacher and focus our minds elsewhere. We can shut down the message because it is not dealing with what we want to hear. Some of us want to hear how God is going to bless us, but we really don't want to hear a strong kingdom message that calls us to radical discipleship, to real commitment to Jesus. We can easily become like the church at Laodicea in the book of Revelation where Jesus was standing on the outside, knocking to get in.
The Superficial Christian

Jesus described the rocky place as the person who receives the word with joy, but when troubles, persecution and testing come, he quickly falls away. These types of persons show no consistent commitment, but rather practice convenient Christianity. They are dominated by emotionalism, that is, they like a lot of feel good messages and feel good experiences - singing, dancing, shouting; if these things are not happening, they feel that the Spirit of God is not moving. These experiences have value when they are prompted by faith and the leading of the Spirit.

These persons walk by sight, not by faith; they walk by the flesh, not by the Spirit. Worship, therefore, is polluted by self and is not dominated by the kingdom of God. In other words, it really is about me and how I feel and not about God and His purpose. These types of Christians are always ready to give up or to leave the church. They are up and down Christians who don't value the things that are important to God and to the kingdom of God such as prayer, study and meditation of the Word, evangelism, and the fellowship of the saints. For these Christians, there is no real depth, spiritual maturity, or radical transformation by the gospel of Jesus Christ. These are simply Christians who come to church when they feel like, but contribute little or nothing to the accomplishing of God's mission through the church.

The Worldly Christian

Jesus described this person as one who hears the word, but worries, greed and pleasures prevent him from truly maturing. Christians like these are obsessed with money: they are dominated by the love of money. They have a hard time taking the step of faith to tithe and to give sacrificially to God. If God has your wallet, he will have your heart: God is Lord where persons commit their time, talent and treasure to Him, where people commit their entire lives to Him. Worldly Christians are always looking to get something: they are the kind of Christians that come to church to see what they can get, rather than to see what they can give; their focus is on being "blessed," rather than on being a blessing.
Worldly Christians are always worrying about something: children, work, friends, problems or about some other thing. They don't have the peace of God; they don't have the strong faith that God is going to work it out. They don't have the assurance that all things work together for good. Worldly Christians like to be entertained: they want church to be fun, not necessarily to give them an encounter with a holy God. Worldly Christians are too earthly minded to be of any real use in the kingdom. They are not strongly committed to the purposes of God and their contribution to the church and the kingdom is minimal.

The Fruitful Christian

Jesus described this person as the one who understands the Word, accepts the Word, retains the Word, has a good and noble heart and by persevering produces a good crop. In Bajan vernacular, these are the real, real Christians. These are people who put the kingdom of God first and His righteousness. These are people who are willing to go to the ends of the earth, wherever God sends them, at whatever price to see the gospel of the kingdom preached. These are people who are hungry for the presence of God, for the moving of His Spirit. These are people who value God's house, who commit to serving in whatever capacity, who give freely to God's work. These are people who don't quit, who persevere, who have "stickability" because they have found that secret place with God. These are people who appreciate the Word of God: they listen carefully to the Word; they think about the Word; they talk over the Word with others; they pray over and apply the Word. These are people who are truly a blessing, and who add value to the church and the kingdom. These are those who God can say to, "Well done my good and faithful servant."

How do you become a fruitful Christian? We need to surrender to God and ask Him to fill us to overflowing with the Holy Spirit. The Christian life is a life of yielding to God. We cannot be overcoming Christians in our own strength or intellect. We must give our lives completely over to God; we must come to the end of self and allow God to increase in us. We need to be in the place where God wants us to be and be around the right kind of people. Not every environment is conducive to becoming a fruitful Christian; all churches are not open to the moving of the Spirit. At the same time, being in the right place is a matter of our personal position before God. It is about having the mind of Christ and walking in the spirit of repentance, humility and purity.

We must be willing to let go of the past and gain a biblical understanding of what a Christian really is. Paul spoke about forgetting the past and pressing onward. The latter glory must always be greater than the former glory. Biblical Christianity is a radical experience. Just know that often what you see in Western Christianity is a watered down version of the real thing. When we carefully study the Word of God, we will see what God has really called us to. If we are open, the revelation of the Word will revolutionize our lives and challenge us to move beyond the status quo into the realm of spiritual transformation.

Conclusion

Not everyone wants to be a fruitful Christian. Jesus ministered to thousands, yet on the Day of Pentecost only 120 were in the Upper Room. The Bible says think of yourself with sober judgment. What kind of Christian are you? Are you the indifferent Christian? Are you the superficial Christian? Are you the worldly Christian? Are you the fruitful Christian? You must know your own heart and your position. I hope though that you have carefully assessed your position and that you are on your way to being or already are a fruitful Christian.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/7901543

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