Sunday, November 11, 2012

Machine Gun Preacher(s)

I was going to write a whole blog post on the recent election of President Barack Obama. I will spare you all my thoughts and point you to Randy Alcorn's recent blog on it at Eternal Perspective Ministries. It is entitled Resting in God's sovereignty over Human Events, Including Election Day. Even now I was going to just write one comment on it but I will refrain. Please do read the post and email me any questions about it if you want :)

Now, what is this business about Machine Gun Preachers? I recently watched a movie by the same name. It is about a man named Sam Childers who is a former drug-dealing biker guy who ends up becoming a Christian and advocate for hundreds of orphaned Sudanese children. It is a very intense movie and pretty graphic. But I still felt that it was a good movie and definitely better than seeing a Justin Bieber Concert on DVD. 

The movie spoke to me in primarily two ways. 

First, just because we aren't in Africa serving God right now doesn't mean that God isn't using us. I am in no way saying that we shouldn't go to Africa or the unreached people groups for the sake of the gospel. I am just saying that because we aren't there RIGHT NOW doesn't mean we aren't serving God. After watching a movie about someone like Sam who gives up the American Dream to go and start an orphanage in a war zone I always feel convicted. I'm sure this is a good thing because we could always be giving God more control of our lives but sometimes I feel guilty because I am not there now. Sure, there are people that can use this argument as an excuse to not go ever. I have met tons of people who say "Well since I am not in Africa right now it doesn't mean I'm not serving God" and justify to themselves that they don't ever have to do missions in other places. But that is not what Jesus tells us. He says in Acts 1:8 that, "You will receiver power then the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. So we are called to go to the ends of the earth. But when I say "Since I am not in Africa right now it doesn't mean I'm not serving God" what it means is one day I want to be able to do missions to places that don't have much or any gospel witness but God is preparing me and has called me now to Oxford. I am serving God and He is working in me to prepare me for what He is calling me to later in life. So I would contend "Since I am not in Africa right now it doesn't mean I'm not serving God here and that I wont one day serve God in (fill in the blank). I am not useless or a second class Christian because I'm not in (fill in the blank). This was a comforting thought.

Second, we need to serve God and others out of love, not anger or bitterness. I am sure most Christians would agree with me but I'm not sure how many of us live like this. For example, I can remember being a youth pastor when I was younger and serving to prove myself or so others wouldn't look down on me. Many of you maybe work extremely hard (even to the neglect of your families) so that your boss or supervisor will acknowledge you and pat you on the back. Or maybe you are a student who wants to be the best student in your class or program not because you want to honor God with your work ethic but because you can't stand your peer who seeks the same vainglory as you. We all struggle with this. We are all Machine Gun Preachers (though not literally, especially if your British ;). There is a scene in the movie when Sam starts to turn into a monster and very cruel man. He is still hunting down the LRA and rescuing children but he is so full of hatred and bitterness that it consumes him to the point that people become scared of him, even his own wife and daughter. After one incident where he looses it again, a former child soldier comes into his room and tells him that he needs to serve out of love, not anger because that is what distinguishes him from his enemies. The apostle Paul is a man who served out of anger when he was a Pharisee and out of love when he became a Christian. Look at how he wrote from experience in this verse:

2 Corinthians 5:14-15
For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.

The love of Christ controls us, not hatred. The love of Christ controls us, not bitterness. The love of Christ controls us, not envy. The love of Christ controls us, not vainglory. My friends, the love of Christ is to be our motivation so that we "no longer live for ourselves" but for His sake. Let us all check our motives for why we serve God and never forget that we can even do the right things with the wrong motives. Pray for me in this area and let us all repent before the King who has paid our debt. Jesus is alive and we can change by His power. This isn't empty rhetoric, this is truth sealed by the blood of the Lamb. 

In Christ, 

Anthony

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