Thursday, May 3, 2012

Ideal to Real- The Ugly Reality

We wrapped up the "Ideal to Real" series this week that has been a challenging series as we take a look in the mirror and really examine our hearts as we ask God the reality of who we are.  We began the night with a worship set that included:  "Tell The World" (Hillsong United), "Enough" (Chris Tomlin), "Good" (Chris Sligh), and "More Like Falling In Love" (Jason Gray).

Throughout this series as we have examined our hearts and looked at what the ideal person/Christian to strive toward is, the truth is that it is rarely the reality of who we are.  It is not so much about becoming who we want to be ourselves, but becoming who God wants us to be.  As we have looked at topics such as emotional highs after Christian events and truly being on fire for God, we wrapped up this series by looking at the topic that inspired the graphic we used.  The image we created depicts the church and world on opposite side and in opposite colors of the color wheel.  As Christians we are to live our lives in the world but not of it.  The ugly reality is that many Christians go to church and appear to be living one way, but outside they are no different than the world.

We see in Galatians 2:11-14 a moment where Paul had to call out Peter for this.  Peter was eating and socializing with the Gentiles, but when the Jews were around he would not.  Peter was giving into the peer pressure from the Jews to not associate with the Gentiles.  Even though God had spoken clearly to them previously that salvation is for both the Jew and Gentile, it is apparent that Peter does not want to some of the Jews to know that he has been associating with the Gentiles.  The word "withdraw" in verse 12 in the Greek refers to a strategic military withdrawal and implies that Peter's withdrawal was gradual and deceptive.  Peter was trying to be one way with one group of people, and trying to deceive the other group by being another way with them.  This is much like when we act godly at church but are living our lives completely different outside while in the world.  It's times like this where we hear the common phrases about Christians are just hypocrites. As Christians we are all hypocrites at some moments in our lives.  The word hypocrite refers to an actor who wears a mask to depict a certain character or mood.  In the spiritual sense it refers to someone who masks his/her true character by pretending to be something he/she is not.

I wanted the students to not think about others that they think fit this, but examine their own hearts.  I challenged them that if this is how they are living your life then they must consider the following:
1)  You're Not Fooling Others
-Peter was not fooling Paul.  You might be fooling some people, but not everyone.  You certainly are not fooling God.
2)  It Leads Others Astray
-Verse 13 tells us that the rest of the Jews and even Barnabas were following Peter in this hypocrisy.  When you live like this, you lead others astray.  You are also turning people away from Christianity.
3)  If You Live This Way With No Conviction Then You Are Not Saved
-Matthew 6:24 tells us we cannot serve 2 masters because we will love one and hate the other.  James 4:4 tells us that we are an enemy of God if we are a friend of the world.  In other words, how can you call yourself a Christ follower while living worldly and being ok with it?  I do not see how it is possible because as a Christian when you sin, the Holy Spirit is there to convict you.
4)  God Hates It!
-Isaiah 1:10-15 show us how God feels about those going through the motions of worship but are living in the world.  He hates it and would rather you not worship Him while attempting to live a double life.

We closed the night like we have each night of this series with a time spent in prayer and reflection asking God to show us the truth of who we are.  We need to ask God to search our hearts daily and reveal to us who we really are.  We may not like the answer we get, but we can then begin to make the changes to become the person that God has called us to be.

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