Sally had been a teenager in a church I once pastored, and her parents were dear friends. Her father, a former Marine, is in Heaven now, and her mother, now in the care of Hospice, is having a little trouble coming to terms with her own impending departure.
I sent the mom a note by Sally, suggesting that she read it to her.
The note to her mother and my Facebook note said: “If we could interview a baby in the mother’s womb about to be born, we might find that he/she is frightened by what lies ahead. It’s about to leave the only world it has known–warm, soft, safe–and emerge into a strange unfamiliar world with people it doesn’t know, who all speak an unintelligible language. To the baby, it would be death. But to everyone else, it’s a birth. When you get to Heaven, you will look back and say, ‘I was afraid of THAT?!’”
Had there been room on Facebook, I would have added something more. So, two hours later, we tacked on the following:
“The Apostle Paul literally taunts death. ‘O death, where is your sting? O grave, where is your victory?’ (I Corinthians 15:55) In college football, he would be flagged for showboating. Followers of Jesus Christ, you are not allowed to fear death. To do so insults the One who went to the cross and experienced the grave for you. Laugh at death. Like a honeybee that has lost its stinger, death still flies around scaring people, but it can’t do you any permanent damage.”
For a Christian to fear death is to insult the Lord Jesus Christ.
I suppose the biblical word for this would be “blasphemy.” But since that word is used almost exclusively in theological realms and associated with falling from grace and incurring God’s wrath, and not something we speak of in our everyday life, I’d just as soon not conjure up images of the Inquisition.
We are not talking about apostasy here. Just poor discipleship.
Here are five ways Christians insult the Lord Jesus Christ in our daily lives.
1. By fearing death, we insult Jesus.
We’ve made that point above, but it surely should head any list of ways in which we bring reproach upon the name and displeasure to the heart of our Savior. After all He did for us, after all the promises He made to us, and after all the assurances found throughout the Word of God and the testimonies in life, for us to go forward tentatively into the future, fearing what the moment following our last breath here holds is to show complete disbelief in the Lord.
No one is allowed to choose when that last breath is drawn. But we are allowed to select how it will be breathed. We will do so in confidence or cowardice, with bold joy or fearful withdrawal.
We all want to so live as to make Jesus proud of us, to have it said of us what Hebrews 11 notes concerns the Old Testament people of faith: “Wherefore, God is not ashamed to be called their God” (11:16).
But let the manner in which we leave this world bring honor to Him also. It was said of the very earliest of believers, Those Christians die well.
2. By keeping quiet about our faith, we insult Jesus.
We who follow Jesus were given a mandate without any escape clauses: You shall be witnesses to me in Jerusalem and Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. (Acts 1:8)
Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all the nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And you are witnesses of these things. (Luke 24:46-48)
We who number ourselves among the Lord’s disciples are not unlike the starving beggars of Samaria who had decided to give themselves up to the invading army outside the city walls, only to discover that the warriors had fled the scene, leaving behind a wealth of food and weapons and finery. As they filled their empty bellies and began hiding away the treasures they had found, they came to their senses. They looked at each other and said, “What we are doing is not right. This day is a day of good news, and we are keeping it to ourselves. If we remain silent until the morning light, some bad thing will happen to us. Let us go and tell the king’s household….” (II Kings 7:9)
Those who study these things say the most powerful force for reaching the unsaved and unchurched is the testimony and personal invitation of a disciple. And conversely, we are told that an abysmally small percentage of believers ever tell even their closest friends about Jesus.
Something is bad wrong here.
3. By withholding our offerings, we insult Jesus.
The widow of Mark 12 who dropped her two small coins into the Temple offering brought great honor to God, said Jesus to the disciples. What He did not say, but which is equally true, is that by refusing to give our offerings to the Lord–regardless of their size–we dishonor Him. Our holding back on our offerings insults the Lord.
Carol was living at the bottom edge of the poverty line. She and her children had begun coming to our church, and we were helping her to find a better job and the men of our church were moving them into a nicer apartment. One day, as my wife drove them home following church, Carol said, “You know, Miss Margaret, I know God wants me to tithe my income. You know I don’t make enough to live on as it is. I need every dime I can get. But I’ve just decided I’m going to do it regardless.”
What Carol began doing is what the widow of the temple was doing: honoring the Lord by giving obediently by faith.
I have known thousands of faithful givers to the Lord’s ministries. But I never knew a one who started giving when they could afford it. Everyone needs just a little more money. That’s why it’s a faith decision.
Faith always honors the Lord. Unbelief dishonors Him.
Nothing demonstrates unbelief better or more eloquently than our refusing to bring to the Lord an offering to testify of our looking to Him for our future needs.
4. By neglecting the church, we insult the Lord.
A quick reading of the New Testament turns up a number of ways by which the people of God–the Church–are known: the beloved of Christ (Ephesians 5:25), the bride of Christ (Ephesians 5:22-33 and Revelation 19:7), the body of Christ (I Corinthians 12:27), a spiritual house and a holy priesthood (I Peter 2:5), and then: A chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own special people (I Peter 2:9).
One of the strongest lines in the Bible about the worth and identity of the church is Paul’s word to the elders of Ephesus: “Shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood” (Acts 20:28).
So, where did the idea arise that in trying to serve God and to please Jesus, we make take or leave the church? I suspect it has two sources: those who overstated the case, making the church the end-all of everything God does, and the enemy who would like nothing better than to sabotage the work of Christ in the world.
We play right into the hands of the enemy when we choose to stay at home rather than join with God’s people in worship and service (see Hebrews 10:25). We weaken the cause of Christ when we withhold our offerings, refuse to take places of service and leadership, and treat the church as though it’s just one of hundreds of good service organizations in the community.
We insult the Savior when we neglect His Body, withdraw our support from His Bride, refuse to commit ourselves to His People.
5. By ignoring the Scriptures, we insult Jesus.
There is nothing like the Holy Scriptures on this planet. No book is as deep, as true, as lasting, as divine, and as life-giving. Nothing on any shelf in your home can yield truths again and again no matter how often you go back and reread them. It is in a class by itself.
Moses said to Israel, “What great nation is there that has such statutes and judgments as are in all this law which I set before you this day?” (Deuteronomy 4:8)
If that was true then–when all God’s people had was what Moses brought down from Sinai–think how true it is today. The powerful stories of the Old Testament, with its incredible songs of David and the stunning prophecies of the coming Messiah, combined with the story of Jesus in the four gospels–unmatched in any literature in the world–and the epistles of Paul and others of the Lord’s followers make this a book unlike anything else anywhere.
The question for believers is: So why aren’t you reading it?
Job esteemed the words of God as his “necessary food” (Job 23:12) but we starve ourselves from it, then wonder why we’re so weak spiritually.
Paul said faith comes from the Word of God (Romans 10:17), but we neglect that word and wonder why our faith is on life support.
Jesus said man does not live by bread alone but by every word that comes from the mouth of God (Matthew 4:4). We feed junk food to our souls, then wonder why we have no strength to serve Him.
Peter called the word of God the seed of the new birth (I Peter 1:23). We keep that word to ourselves, not sharing it with the rest of the world, then wonder why there is no spiritual harvest.
Clearly, this list is not comprehensive. The believer who has great needs and claims to trust Jesus, but does not pray, is not speaking well of the Savior.
To honor the Lord is to obey Him. To disobey is to dishonor Him.
I venture to say that no one who has been redeemed–loved, saved, forgiven, cleansed, purified, called, indwelt, and Heaven-bound–would intentionally dishonor the Lord Jesus and insult Him on purpose.
However, we do so by our actions and inactions. When we fear the enemy, keep the story of Jesus to ourselves, refuse to obey His commands and neglect His greatest gifts–the church and the Word–what else can this be but insults and reproaches to such a wonderful Savior.
Jesus asked His disciples, “When the Son of Man returns, will He find faith on earth?” (Luke 18:8)
Good question. Important issue.