I started looking up very popular Christian books, and wondered how I would re-write them with just one sentence. I don’t want this in any way to come across as if I’m mocking the authors. That’s not at all what I’m doing. It’s sobering to realize how many millions of dollars these books have made, when God gave us the one book we truly need. The Bible.
This started off as something humorous, but the further I went, the more sobering it became. I’m not saying don’t read books. My intent for this post is to caution you. We need to redeem the time (Eph 5:16). There are lost and dying people all around us, and we have no idea when Christ is coming back. We can’t fully deny ourselves and follow Jesus if we’re following man’s experiences.
My wife and I learned that following a man, and not cultivating a deeper relationship with our Father, doesn’t lead anywhere but to chaos and burn out. Quite the opposite of what Jesus is all about. 1 Corinthians 14:33 and Matthew 11:30 talk about this. We have come to realize that our ministry is the person directly in front of us everywhere we go. No one has to be labeled an evangelist, preacher, teacher, leader, mentor, or servant to spread the Gospel.
If we are walking in unconditional love towards others, we are living the Gospel. It’s truly that simple.
I believe most of Christianity today has it all backwards. We think if we are doing the good works, it’s drawing us closer to God. That’s why so many people live in a constant state of exhaustion. The exact opposite is true. The stronger we grow in relationship with God, the more good fruit will grow. Matthew 6:33 says to seek first the kingdom, and His righteousness.
It’s not about making the fruit good. It’s all about making the tree good.
Matthew 7:15-23 says:
15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. 16 You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? 17 Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.20 Therefore by their fruits you will know them.
21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’
This is one of the most sobering passages of scripture in the New Testament. We can do the works all day long until we are blue in the face, but without relationship, God won’t even know us.
Don’t get caught up in the big push to do ministry or start a church. I’m not saying God doesn’t have people do that. I’m saying make sure your vertical relationship supersedes your horizontal ones.
Having said that, here is my list, and how I would have written them all with one sentence.
Crazy Love by Francis Chan – “Love God and love others.”
The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel – “Walk by faith, not by sight.”
Radical by David Platt – “Deny yourself, and follow Jesus.”
Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren – “Our purpose on this Earth is to manifest the image of God.”
You Can, You Will by Joel Osteen – “Um, just read your Bible.”
I’ll leave you with my Facebook status from this morning. “Following man will lead you to eventual destruction. Following Holy Spirit will lead you into relationship with God.”