We had a preacher all the way from San Antonio, Texas — who actually comes from India — who livened up the 9am congregation at Calvary Church last Sunday with his energetic prancing around the pulpit and a profound message that I pray sunk home!
Pastor Zack Cherian, (son of Assembly of God pastors in India) and pastor of the Brazen Grace Fellowship in San Antonio, shared a point which I believe is the crux of what it means to be a Christian.
Preaching from Acts 19: 13-15, he gave an insightful perspective on the story of the sons of Sceva (a Jewish chief priest). Sceva’s seven sons were going around driving out evil spirits by invoking the name of the Lord Jesus Christ over those who were demon-possessed. One day the evil spirit they were trying to drive out turned around and asked them: “Jesus I know, and Paul I know about, but who are you?” (Acts 19: 15)
Then the man who had the evil spirit jumped on the seven and beat them up nice and proper. The seven fled naked and bleeding.
Cherian then made his point: there is no power in invoking the name of the Lord Jesus Christ if we don’t know who we are in Christ. He referred to another text to stress his point: Matt 3:17 which states: “And a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased’.” This is the famous quote attributed to God the Father at Jesus’ baptism.
Cherian observed: “God was pleased with Jesus even before His ministry began.” Jesus began to minister only after His baptism. But, God the Father was pleased with Him even before He began His work. Jesus knew who He was in relation to His Father in heaven. He affirmed that inner personality tied up with His Father. All His power came from His Personhood vis a vis the Father in heaven. And that was what led Him to His destiny and succeed.
Amazing, isn’t it? The Father in heaven was well-pleased with The Son not for all his work but for who He is.
It was the same with Jesus’s followers, the apostles. They knew who they were in Christ. Many of them were fishermen, but, as a result of their relationship with Jesus, they became apostles who saw, thought and did as He would. Nobody told them nor asked them what to do. But, they were motivated to go to the ends of the Earth from an inner compulsion because they knew who they were in Christ. They were transformed from the inside and became their destiny — who they were intended to be — and look what they did for the cause of Christ. Their influence is felt to this day.
We tend to think of the testimony of Christ in superficial terms, don’t we? Problem-free homes, cars, houses, assets, money, educational and professional upward mobility and impressive big structures to show what “God can do for us” and “doing good for God”. Nothing wrong with these in themselves but if faith doesn’t go deep to change our inner being, these “blessings” are superficial. Strip us of these, and we are no different from anybody else and powerless to be anyone more.
Our Christianity becomes only skin-deep, shallow and powerless. At the first sign of trouble, we flee or fumble, or insist and impose “what’s right” to conform. But we are powerless to change to redeem and improve! When we know who we are, we become secure in ourselves and confident in Christ, knowing that all that power in being in Him is available to us to use. We would be able to hold our own, even in a hostile environment, and make a difference.
It’s a pity church leaders don’t emphasis enough on “being” in Christ. That is internalizing faith, and, really, is the beginning of transformation — growing in Christlikeness.
(Two Kinds of Love, scheduled for today, will be posted next Friday.)