Dear friends, don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through…1 Peter 4:12
Joining an organization carries with it certain expectations and obligations like learning the secret handshake, wearing the proper clothing or reciting the code on demand. Some groups go further in that members must change their behavior and manner of living, publicly refusing current trends, alcoholic beverages and movies. Some of these groups are churches who attempt to overhaul their members into “better people” by remodeling their outward behavior with rules and regulations.
Unfortunately for all who head down this path, changing outward behavior and appearance does not change the heart. Jesus did not give His life for us so we would all shop at the same clothing store, wear our hair a certain way or follow a set of rules for living. Jesus wants our hearts. Jesus wants people to understand that we are New Creations as we believe in Him (have faith). In reading the Bible, you will not find comments regarding how fine or stylish our Lord’s garments were. Rather, you will read how focused on following God’s will He was.
1Samuel16:7 But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”
1Timothy4:8Physical exercise has some value, but spiritual exercise is much more important, for it promises a reward in both this life and the next.
“Joining” the Church of Jesus Christ is the total opposite of following rules, learning a handshake or attempting to live by a set of rules, it is accomplished by our faith in what Jesus has done for us. Faith, not works we are cautioned in Ephesians
Eph2:8-9 God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. 9 Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.
Phil.3:8-9 . . .I reckon everything as complete loss for the sake of what is so much more valuable, the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have thrown everything away; I consider it all as mere garbage, so that I may gain Christ 9and be completely united with him. I no longer have a righteousness of my own, the kind that is gained by obeying the Law. I now have the righteousness that is given through faith in Christ, the righteousness that comes from God and is based on faith.
Jesus calls us to cut our hair, or not, to cast aside the bondage of those rules or outward behaviors. More than those things, Jesus calls us to follow Him which may mean suffering, denial, humiliation, rejection and being ostracized by many. In return, He gives us forgiveness and eternal life with Him.
Luke6:27-49 27 “But to you who are willing to listen, I say, love your enemies! Do good to those who hate you. 28 Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you. 29 If someone slaps you on one cheek, offer the other cheek also. If someone demands your coat, offer your shirt also. 30 Give to anyone who asks; and when things are taken away from you, don’t try to get them back. 31 Do to others as you would like them to do to you. 32 “If you love only those who love you, why should you get credit for that? Even sinners love those who love them! 33 And if you do good only to those who do good to you, why should you get credit? Even sinners do that much! 34 And if you lend money only to those who can repay you, why should you get credit? Even sinners will lend to other sinners for a full return. 35 “Love your enemies! Do good to them. Lend to them without expecting to be repaid. Then your reward from heaven will be very great, and you will truly be acting as children of the Most High, for he is kind to those who are unthankful and wicked. 36 You must be compassionate, just as your Father is compassionate.