Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Something Greater

Something greater than the Iraqi and Afghan war, terrorist acts or Canadian and American elections is now happening in our world. The kingdom of God, greater than any election platform, is presently sweeping the earth. The greatest movement in world history is now changing the face of the earth! Are you a part of it?
People are turning to Jesus and discovering His words are true.
“Search the Scriptures for in them you think you have life and these testify of me (Jn 5:39)
“All the Scriptures…things concerning Himself (Luke 24:27)
must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me.”(Luke 24:44)
Spiritually hungry people do not accept counterfeits; they turn to Jesus!
A few years ago, my wife and I visited many ancient sites of the early Christian church in the Mediterranean world. These cities had once known vibrant churches, but the ravages of apathy, war, and time have taken their toll and their once-strong congregations are no more.
In Spain, we found church buildings full of gold plundered from Aztec and Inca empires, but empty of people. In Assisi, we found St. Francis’ simple church, but now smothered beneath an overwhelming edifice. In Greece, St. Paul’s powerful words seemed silenced amid all the noisy Olympic preparations.
The seven churches of Revelation were merely empty ruins in Turkey, a 99% Muslim nation. Constantinople’s Hagia Sophia, once the largest church in the world, was now only a shell of a museum.
However, we found something even more remarkable. Although the outer vestiges of ‘Christian faith’ are no longer as prevalent as they had once been, an even more powerful movement is now sweeping these lands, especially in the hearts of the younger generation. Hearts are hungering for the real Jesus and will accept no substitutes.
Our young Italian friend was born and raised in the church, even served as an altar boy, but the church’s hypocritical practices had turned him away. Their large, cold marble buildings no longer impressed him and he now looked for heroes elsewhere. I challenged him and his counter-culture group of friends to look to the original Jesus, the only perfect man who has ever lived. “Why continue to look for ideals of perfection when He has already come?”
He acknowledged that Jesus’ life uniquely demonstrated truth in action, in spite of all man’s external religious embellishments. But it's hard to find the real Jesus through all the religious embellishments...the crap!
One afternoon in Ephesus, just outside the ruins of the church where St. John lay buried, we stopped to talk with a young carpet-seller. The topic turned to the emptiness of religious buildings and observances and we encouraged him to seek the head of the living church, Jesus Christ. Suddenly he remarked, “You’re just like those other people who were here this morning and shared this same message with me. And you’ve got that same joy in you! You are filled with joy and radiate life just like them! Is that Jesus?”
Then he told us how he had begun to read the New Testament (Injil) in his own language so he could find out these things for himself.
Later that evening in our hotel, Achmed, our 18-year-old night watchman, watched his new ‘Jesus’ video all they way through on the very first night he'd had it. In the morning, he was so very excited about what he had seen and had all sorts of questions about this Jesus.
In Cappadocia, our young Turkish tour guide led us through labyrinthine underground cities, nine or 10 stories deep, 150 feet below the surface, where Christians had fled to escape Roman persecutors and later Muslim invaders. We marveled how they had survived and prospered for centuries and gazed at their wonderful frescoes and mosaics. But there’s more to life than old paintings, murals and books –and as we drove to the next site, she wondered out loud about what we were seeing. Our topic of conversation turned to Jesus. Rather than argue concerning religious dogma, I asked her what Islam said about Jesus.
“He is a prophet,” she replied.
“But much more.” I added. “The Koran speaks of Jesus as the Judge at the last day. Surely, if even the Koran esteems Jesus so highly, don’t you think it’s most important for us to know Him as He truly is now, seeing we are all going to stand before Him as judge on the last day?”
That opened more questions.
Other nominal Muslim friends of hers had gone to the theatre to see Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ because they’d heard it was anti-Semitic, but the movie had now turned them and their thoughts to examine who this Jesus of the Passion really was.
In Istanbul, another young Turk stood in a nightclub doorway, his red and black T-shirt emblazoned with Che Guevara's picture on the front and “We want a revolution!” on the back. I couldn’t resist and stopped to ask what kind of revolution he wanted.
“Do you want to have a real revolution or just replace the present batch of scandalous politicians and ideas with others? What about revolting against the world’s greatest tyrant?”
“Who’s that?”
Self! Do you want a real revolution of the heart? Have you considered the world’s greatest revolutionary?”
Who’s that?”
“Jesus! He turned the world right side up!”
He chuckled.
Che Guevera had good intentions, but he was a very imperfect political revolutionary and is now very dead.
Jesus alone dealt with the greatest threat to freedom: self.
And He is very much alive: He is risen! He alone offers a revolution of the spirit.
While the world’s philosophers and politicians argue – ‘esteem yourself, free yourself, empower yourself! Jesus invites us to “Deny yourself, take up your cross and follow me.”
Charee (his name in Turkish means ‘called’) heard theJesus' call that day.
Not to ideas, but a Person.
Not to dead forms, but resurrected life.
Not to religion, but a faith relationship, personally and directly from Jesus Himself to be then shared together with others.
Jesus has given us life. Not dogmatic systems or learned responses. Not buildings or programs. God is looking for those who will simply respond out of their heartfelt need. He draws those who are honest in their reality.
It is only a matter of time: His kingdom is filling all the earth.

1 comment:

  1. YES,the kingdom of god is sweeping across this world like a firestorm.burning up religious dogma.replacing dead religion with the love and power of GOD.People of all age are come to know Jesus as their lord and savior,getting a whole of what Jesus has done for them.This a wonderful time we are in. GOD BLESS

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