Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Keeping Centered

Proverbs 11:1-3 "Dishonest scales are an abomination to the LORD, But a just weight is His delight. When pride comes, then comes shame; But with the humble is wisdom. The integrity of the upright will guide them, But the perversity of the unfaithful will destroy them."

Amplified Bible: “A FALSE balance and unrighteous dealings are extremely offensive and shamefully sinful to the Lord, but a just weight is His delight. When swelling and pride come, then emptiness and shame come also, but with the humble (those who are lowly, who have been pruned or chiseled by trial, and renounce self) are skillful and godly Wisdom and soundness. The integrity of the upright shall guide them, but the willful contrariness and crookedness of the treacherous shall destroy them.”

Titus 1:1-16 Paul, a bondservant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God’s elect and the acknowledgment of the truth which accords with godliness, in hope of eternal life which God, who cannot lie, promised before time began, but has in due time manifested His word through preaching, which was committed to me according to the commandment of God our Savior; To Titus, a true son in our common faith: Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ our Savior. For this reason I left you in Crete, that you should set in order the things that are lacking, and appoint elders in every city as I commanded you—  if a man is blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of dissipation or insubordination.  For a bishop must be blameless, as a steward of God, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, but hospitable, a lover of what is good, sober-minded, just, holy, self-controlled, holding fast the faithful word as he has been taught, that he may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convict those who contradict. For there are many insubordinate, both idle talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision,  whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole households, teaching things which they ought not, for the sake of dishonest gain.  One of them, a prophet of their own, said, “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.”  This testimony is true. Therefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith,  not giving heed to Jewish fables and commandments of men who turn from the truth.  To the pure all things are pure, but to those who are defiled and unbelieving nothing is pure; but even their mind and conscience are defiled. They profess to know God, but in works they deny Him, being abominable, disobedient, and disqualified for every good work.

The book of Titus was written to the people of Crete who were known to be off balance on one side or the other. This is a glaring problem in the church today as well. Maybe it has been like this throughout all of history? Godly leadership is not an accreditation or based on an achievement, but on godly character qualities and being submitted to Jesus as is indicated in this passage. Imagine with me three circles...
The center circle is where we need to stand. That is the circle of Christ-centeredness. On the left is the circle of the self-indulgent. This is the circle where people stand and claim faith but live like “anything goes” and any belief, standard, or lifestyle is acceptable. On the right is the circle of the self-righteous. They are critical, judgmental, mean-spirited, off-balance… (picketers, etc) condemning PEOPLE instead of the sin. To be Christ-centered –standing in that central circle is almost like standing in the middle of a teeter-totter. It’s easy to let it sway to the left or to the right. It takes constant effort and a continual shaping of our muscle coordination to keep completely balanced. The problem is that when we sway completely to the left, we are in danger of thinking we are okay in our relationship with Jesus. And when we sway to the right, we are confident in our standing with Jesus as well. Dangerous. Very dangerous. And the world sees this. When we are not Christ-centered, it permeates in our conversation and displays itself in how we love others. On the right, people only see judgment. On the left, people only see a complete lack of conviction towards righteousness. One is not more wrong than the other. Both outer circles are wrong. Neither shows Jesus. But sometimes we are so blinded by ourselves that we can’t see how wrong we are in our little self-circles.
So back to godly leadership... according to God's Word, there is no accreditation basis or achievement requirement. We are simply asked to submit to Jesus, be balanced in our behavior and in our belief so that He can work. To keep us in shape, God has given us some health-maintenance requirements so to speak: (1.) be disciplined. Take time to consistently seek God through his word and communicate with Him. (2.) Be yielded. Surrender daily. Be a filled vessel. Know that if I am empty, the wrong things will dump into me, spilling into the lives of those around me. But on the other side of it, if I am filled with my own self-righteousness, there is no room for Jesus to spill out of me, touching others. It will be all me. Critical, mean, nasty me. (3.) Commit to faithfulness in [a] the Bible and [b] in loving others. This is like an exercise routine. A routine for life. A routine which will keep me in shape so that on that teeter-totter of Christ-centeredness, I won’t sway to the left or to the right. Christ-centeredness. True Christianity.

by Derek Webb:
They’ll know us by the t-shirts that we wear
They’ll know us by the way we point and stare
At anyone whose sin looks worse than ours
Who cannot hide the scars of this curse that we all bare

They’ll know us by our picket lines and signs
They’ll know us by the pride we hide behind
Like anyone on earth is living right
And isn’t that why Jesus died
Not to make us think we’re right 

When love, love, love
Is what we should be known for
Love, love, love
It’s the how and it’s the why
We live and breathe and we die

They’ll know us by reasons we divide
And how we can’t seem to unify
Because we’ve gotta sing songs a certain style
Or we’ll walk right down that aisle
And just leave ‘em all behind

They’ll know us by the billboards that we make
Just turning God’s words to cheap clich├ęs
Says “what part of murder don’t you understand?”
But we hate our fellow man
And point a finger at his grave

They’ll know us by the t-shirts that we wear
They’ll know us by the way we point and stare
Telling ‘em their sins are worse than ours
Thinking we can hide our scars
Beneath these t-shirts that we wear


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