Christian Leaders and the Pressure to Compromise

When in a leadership position, one’s core beliefs can often be threatened. It may not always be directly aimed at you, but the pressure to compromise can build up over time. It may feel like the result of current cultural norms, but it’s not unique to the modern era. In New Testament times there were many political alliances in the fragile balance of power (not unlike today). One of those groups was a powerful court called the Sanhedrin Council. In the Apostle John’s gospel, he refers to the Council this way:

“…many believed in [Jesus], but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, lest they be put out of the synagogue: for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.” (12:42-43)

So what we glean from the description is that several had convictions, but were afraid to express them for fear of losing political influence. However, in the middle of that politically charged environment, we also learn what happened after the crucifixion. Take a look:

“There was a good and righteous man named Joseph, a member of the Sanhedrin, who had not agreed to their plan and action. He was from Arimathea, a Judean town, and was looking forward to the kingdom of God. He approached Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body. Taking it down, he wrapped it in fine linen and placed it in a tomb cut into the rock, where no one had ever been placed.” -Luke 23:50-53

You see, the difference between Joseph and many others was simply this; he acted on what he knew to be true regardless of the threat to his position and status. He may have been a little timid before, but at the end of the day he found the courage to stand on his faith. He was not only willing to step forward and be identified with Christ; he was also willing to be involved in the work of burial. Afterward, the resurrection proved Joseph to be right and he’s remembered not for his silence, but his bold request to Pilate.

Today, if you’re a follower of Christ in a leadership position; I encourage you to prayerfully act on what you know to be true, stand firm on your faith and be willing to ask the tough questions.

Mothers

MompicMother’s Day

Caring Moms are a gift from God,

and a reflection of His love.

As you express your appreciation or ponder her memory,

remember to thank the One who created her.

“Love is patient…kind…selfless…” – I Cor. 13

The Essentials: Part 5-Heaven

When you picture Heaven, what do you see? Do you imagine a garden paradise of rest? Joyful reunions? Or maybe a Bible-celebrity mansion tour? For sure, there are many wonderful things about Heaven, but not everything you hear is consistent with the Bible. So what does the scripture reveal and how should we visualize Heaven? Let’s take a look:

I. Heaven is God-centered

From the beginning of the biblical narrative, it’s clear that all of Heaven is focused on God. Whether an Old Testament prophet is encountering God through a vision (Ez. 1, Is. 6) or John’s account of seeing Christ in the Revelation (Ch. 4); there is absolutely no question of the central focus. All attention is toward the throne of Holy God.

II. Heaven is a real place

The Bible describes Heaven as an actual place, not a “state-of-mind” or vague spiritual realm. It has structure, order and protocol. For example, Isaiah, Ezekiel and John all describe a physical throne room with special created beings, elders, lamps, altar with burning coals, door posts and smoke. Each has their function and place among the activities going on around the throne of God.

III. Heaven is filled with worship

Ezekiel, Isaiah and John all display an immediate response of worship, submission and realization of shortcomings. When they encountered the holiness of God there was nothing but embracing of the obvious. Listen to Isaiah’s words:

“I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up and the train of His robe filled the temple…so I said: Woe is me, for I am ruined because I am a man of unclean lips and live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of Hosts.” – Isaiah (6:1-5)

John the Apostle (who knew Jesus well) reacted by falling down as a dead man (Rev. 1:17). He described four living creatures calling out non-stop worship with these words:

“Holy, Holy, Holy,
Lord God almighty,
Who was, and is, and is to come!”
-Revelation 4:8

IV. Heaven is exclusive

Contrary to the idea of an open destination for all “good” people, Jesus says only those who’ve placed their trust in Him will be granted access (John 14:6). That may not be politically correct, but the Good News is that ANYONE who places their trust in Christ can receive cleansing from sin and be welcomed into the presence of God after this life.
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” – I John 1:9

V. Heaven is home

For those of us who’ve placed our trust in Jesus, this world is not home and some day we’ll leave it behind. We’re sojourners and our final place of residence is with God. Our efforts should be focused on His Kingdom. Our treasure should be laid up “where moth and rust can’t destroy and thieves can’t steal” (Matt. 6:20).

VI. Conclusion

It’s not really “what” you envision, but “Who”. When we truly pause to meditate on the reality of God and His Holy presence; worship, submission, confession and obedience naturally follow. Thankfully, through Christ we are welcomed into the throne room where there is cleansing, acceptance, security and love (Hebrews 4:14-16). What a powerful picture that is…and we’re just getting started!

For other posts in “The Essentials” series, click here

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