Is Christ Enough? Your Life

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Then Jesus said to His disciples, ‘If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.’

(Matthew 16:24-25)

Here is the problem with the quote from Jesus above:

1.) We over-spiritualize it

2.) We disregard it

3.) We disdain it and avoid it at all costs

4.) We take it to mean that we must be willing to sacrifice for Jesus.

Matt 16:23 But He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s.

CAUTION! Hang on to your bloomers… this blog post is going to be as blunt as I can possibly get in order to attempt getting through to you, my readers (all ten of you!).

I honestly believe that when we read passages (like those above) about the Lord’s call for us to follow Him that we really don’t get it.  That’s also true when we hear these things preached or written about.  That’s why my prayer for this blog post is that your eyes (spiritual) and ears (spiritual) would be opened to truly hear what our Lord is saying.  Are these statements important?  Yes! In fact they are everything!

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So Lord Jesus, I ask that those who will read this post will be touched by your Spirit to see and hear these things as perhaps for the first time.  Lord, may they not think: “oh yeah, I know that!” but instead humbly (like a child) receive what you have said as if they had never heard (or read) it before.  And Lord, may it cause a complete revolution to take place in their hearts and within your Body throughout the world.  Amen

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You might think I’m crazy, but I honestly believe that I can boil down the problems within Christianity and among most Christians today in one simple statement.

We don’t really believe what Jesus and the New Testament writers said!

That’s because if we did, then our lives would be very different than a typical Christian of today.  We would be radical, even revolutionary people.  Instead, what we see around us today is this insipid, anemic, lukewarm version of so-called Christianity.  For the most part, a people who are not willing to lose anything, let alone their very lives!

I can speak this way because I have been a believer for over 43 years and have seen a lot of Christians in that time.  My wife and I have been working for 25 years of that time to help start and plant something we call “organic” churches.  And in that time I can honestly say that I believe I have the main problem with believers who are attempting to return to a genuine, authentic, New Testament expression of the church.

They are just not willing to lose their lives!

And yet Jesus said that you could not even be a follower of his unless you were willing to lose your own life.  But I ask you dear brothers and sisters: IF WE ARE NOT EVEN FOLLOWERS OF CHRIST YET HOW CAN WE BE HIS CHURCH?

Then Jesus said to His disciples, If anyone is desiring to come after me, let him” forget self and lose sight of his own interests, and let him pick up his cross and carry it, and let him be taking the same road with me that I travel, for whoever is desiring to save his soul-life shall ruin it, but whoever will pass a sentence of death upon his soul-life for my sake, shall find it. For what will a man be profited if he gain the whole world but forfeit his soul-life. Or, what shall a man give as an exchange for his soul-life? For the Son of Man is about to be coming in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He shall recompense to each one according to his manner of acting.” (Matthew 16:24) (Wuest)

But whatever things were to me a gainful asset, these things I have considered a loss when it comes to my acquisition of Christ, and still so consider them. Yes, indeed, therefore, at least, even I am still setting all things down to be a loss for the sake of that which excels all others, my knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord which I have gained through experience, for whose sake I have been caused to forfeit all things, and I am still counting them dung, in order that Christ I might gain, yes, in order that I might in the observation of others be discovered by them to be in Him, not having as my righteousness that righteousness which is of the law, but that righteousness which is through faith in Christ, that righteousness which is from God on the basis of faith. Yes, for His sake I have been caused to forfeit all things, and I count them but dung, in order that I might come to know Him in an experiential way, and to come to know experientially the power of His resurrection and a joint-participation in His sufferings, being brought to the place where my life will radiate a likeness to His death, if by any means I might arrive at the goal, namely, the out-resurrection from among those who are dead. (Philippians 3:7) (Wuest)

As I hope that you can clearly see, all of these statements hinge upon one thing: A LIFE LAID DOWN!

If our individual relationship with God is hinging upon us laying down our lives then how could we ever think that His Church would operate by any other principal?

People all over are asking for “organic church” life but they haven’t even totally given their lives to the Lord yet! I ask you, how can this work? It can’t, it can’t, it most absolutely cannot!

The Great Contradiction

As I stated earlier in this post, my wife and I have been working in the area of helping and planting organic churches. We have noticed a very strange phenomenon concerning this. Many of the people who are helped by us in the churches we plant and others who hear or read about our work make statements such as those below:

  • “I really appreciate all that you have done to help us”
  • “You folks have sacrificed a lot to help us”
  • “We really honor and look up to you because of your sacrificial service”
  • “You have given up so much to do this work, thank you!”

Now, please don’t misunderstand me, we really appreciate these statements made by precious believers where we have worked.  We take their love and encouragements to heart in every way.  There is a special and strong bond between us.  We thank the Lord for that every day!

However, there is also something very strange about all this …

We are not special Christians!  We are just “normal” Christians.

Yes, we have laid down our lives for the Lord and His House.  But that is just what a normal believer does!  Now, not everyone is called to his work of planting churches, traveling, preaching, etc.

  • But we are ALL called to follow Him completely by giving up our lives and living His life.
  • We are ALL called to forsake all to follow Him.
  • We are ALL called to take up His interests and His purpose and lay down all of our ideas, dreams, hopes, agendas, programs, wants, and even needs.
  • We are ALL called to take up His all-encompassing interest which is His Church!
  • We are ALL called to go wherever and do whatever He needs for His eternal purpose (the expression of Christ in His Body).

In other words: A true follower of Christ is someone who has given up all rights to himself and his/her own desires, wishes, dreams, and goals.  That’s just a normal Christian.

But we are so used to living a sub-standard Christian life that we actually believe that those who are “sold out” for Christ are either fanatics or called to the ministry!

But wait!  Our Lord Jesus even went beyond that!

But He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s. (Matt 16:23)

 

Do you “see” it? Do you “get” that? Here our Lord makes such a terrible and frightening statement that our minds tend to either blot it out or minimize the statement.

Let me put it in other words.

Jesus is telling Peter here that because he is setting his mind on man’s interests (his own) and not on God’s, he is not only a stumbling block to Christ, but he is also functioning by the life of Satan, the enemy of God!

Folks, I really don’t know how it could be stated any clearer:  When we put our own interests above that of Christ and His Church we are a satanically inspired stumbling block to Him!

You see, it’s either going to be your life or His!  Both will never work and will actually work against God’s purpose.  That’s why the Lord told us to leave all to follow Him.  That’s why He told us to deny (literally: to disown) our lives.  Organic church won’t work if you try to retain your own life!  It will end up being some watered-down version of the true expression of Christ.  It may be better than institutional church in some ways but it will not be what the Lord wants or live up to His own vision and passion.

The Foundation

When we come to plant a new organic church we always tell the believers that they will need to clear their schedules and simplify their lives.  We also tell them that the Church cannot be just a adjunct (add-on) to their lives.  THE CHURCH MUST NOW BE THEIR LIVES!  The biggest hindrance to organic church life is not the devil, the religious system, or even your background.

The biggest hindrance to true organic church life is your own life!

I get people coming to me all the time wanting to join an existing organic church in their town.  They tell me that they have earnestly wanted this life for many years and are willing to do whatever it takes to find it. When I tell them that I don’t know of any such churches in their town but that I do know of churches in other cities then they begin to make excuses why they could never relocate to another town or state.  I’m sorry, but I honestly don’t have much compassion for believers in this condition.  They say one thing with their mouths but their hearts are far from the Lord and His purpose.

I can honestly say that most people don’t experience organic church life simply because they are willing to live without it!  You MUST be desperate for this life!  I mean REALLY desperate!  My wife and I were not willing to live without it.  We were willing to go anywhere and do anything to find it!

The Bottom Line

One of my favorite movies is The Untouchables with Kevin Costner and Sean Connery.  It’s about the taking down by law enforcement officers of one of the most notorious criminals of all time; Al Capone of Chicago.  Costner (Elliot Ness) works for the Treasury department and has been commissioned to put Capone out of business.  Connery is an older Irish cop on the beat in Chicago.  He has obviously been around the block several times and knows what is really going on with crime in the city.  Costner recruits Connery to help him put Capone down.  However, Connery’s character makes one thing clear to Ness by asking him one simple question: “what are you prepared to do?” He then goes on to tell him that this is an “all or nothing” endeavor.  That if he goes after Capone it will cost him everything.  Then he tells Ness, “here endeth the lesson.”

Brothers and sisters, what are you prepared to do?  Are you willing to go wherever and do whatever your Lord wants?  Don’t answer too quickly!  It’s so easy to say “Yes” to such a proposition without having counted the cost.  So… what is the cost?  The cost is simply everything!  Your Life!  Living organic church life means that you no longer hold any claims to your own personal life and now He IS your life.  And believe me, this rabbit hole goes much deeper than you ever imagined!

Is Christ REALLY enough?

“Here endeth the lesson.”

 

Special Note:  If this message (and the Lord’s dealings with you) have been tugging at your heart and you are willing to lay it all down for His calling and His purpose then you may be ready to engage in the most glorious adventure ever – true body life!  If this sounds like you then please email me at: milt@therebuilders.org and I will give you information on some possible new organic church plants that you can get involved in.

 

 

Author: Milt Rodriguez

Milt is an author, speaker, and organic church planter.

19 thoughts on “Is Christ Enough? Your Life”

  1. Thanks Milt – I have witnessed the phenomenon that you are speaking about so many times: The elusive “magic” of “organic church” (or whatever we wish to call it), that so many post-denominational/institutional Christians are chasing after, appears out of the blue where there is a gathering of two or more who have lost interest in their own lives, dreams, self-actualization, etc. and whose only passion is Christ. And I have seen just as many toxic/shipwrecked fellowships where people have slavishly followed some or other organic how-to manual, yet without having relinquished their own ambitions, pet doctrines, etc. I truly believe we have totally missed the significance of Christ’s “I will build my church.” True fellowship is a miracle of God and cannot be engineered, but it requires nothingness from our side. As long as we try and steer the ark (the covenant one, not Noah’s), death is a non-negotiable.

  2. Christ a I cannot co-exist .either its one or the other. it`s the cross and death for me
    so Christ can have his complete expression in my life ,that`s the only way that we can have fruitful organic Church life.

  3. What does this mean or look like practically for the everyday person not in “ministry”? With kids, a job, debt, mortgage, ect… I can not tell you what this looks like for me and my family. I could not tell you want the Lord wants for me. I am 47 and have been a Christian since I was 17. I feel more like someone in the trenches just trying to survive the mistakes I have made along the way. Thanks.

  4. Hi David – just an encouragement: I spent most of my adult life in full time ministry, chasing after ministerial success, a Phd in theology, a reputation as an expository preacher, etc, all along believing that I had sacrificed much and that I was exceptionally committed to God and his will. I “lost my life” when a series of events took me into the world that you’ve just described. To become an ordinary human being with a job and an out-of-the-spotlight ministry, serving and loving God and family and others without receiving any recognition, and adoring God for he who he is and not who he could make me, took more from me than all my years of “sacrificial service.” The point is exactly that this life is intended for normal nobodies, and that it has absolutely nothing to do with some or other superior commitment or calling. I only got to know God intimately once I stepped off my pedestal and became a normal person with a normal life, struggling to pay the bills, struggling to find time to read and write, etc. And I have never been more blessed than now. Also, I have become immersed in a world of people that I never even knew existed, and whom I never ever would have met in my cloistered ecclesiastical world. Believe it or not, for the first time in my life, my ministry seems real.

    1. Yes!!!! The striving and my own expectations must be laid down and follow Christ. For he is the architect of my spiritual walk. So, now I must now not fix my eye on myself but fix my eyes and rest in Christ.

  5. Tobie,

    Thanks for your comment I agree with it to some degree. However, I must say that true church life doesn’t just appear “out of the blue”. Though I agree that it takes a people who are desperate for it. I believe strongly in the fact that God sends people to preach Christ and raise up the church. It’s all over the New Testament story and throughout history. Historically, when the church forsook the ministry of “sent ones”, that’s when things started going awry (second century. I have written and spoken on this subject quite a bit (see list below). Of course, it takes a people who are forsaking all the religious garbage and “sold-out” to Jesus Christ. But at some point, it also takes God sending someone(s) whom He has called, prepared, and sent to lay the foundation of the church… which is Christ!

    Training the Planters – https://miltrodriguez.com/2014/10/22/training-the-planters/

    How Does God Make a Worker?
    https://miltrodriguez.com/2015/07/30/how-does-god-make-a-worker/

    Laying a Foundation of Christ Alone
    https://miltrodriguez.com/2015/10/11/laying-a-foundation-of-christ-alone/

  6. David,

    I agree with Tobie that it looks the same whether you are in the “ministry” or not. We all have our struggles and failures. However, God wants to take us beyond the place of just surviving to a place of real overcoming and victory in our Christ. Are you part of an organic group of believers somewhere? If so, I would recommend that you dig in and get to know the Lord in a deeper way through those believers.

    1. No, not to the extent that you describe. I have been meeting with some brothers here in Nashville when I can. I have shared some of my story with you before. It is too complicated to explain here but would be glad too privately. I am on call at one hospital m-th 5p-7a and another one Fri 3p-mon 7a. I also work 2-4 days during the week at a 3rd hospital. I am working at paying off debt. It has been hard to make meetings when they meet on Sun due to work.

      My questions stems from a desire to “get it right”. I often want to know what does this look like practically. Being type A doesn’t help. I know I don’t know hope to sit well and wait. Thanks for responding.

    2. Yes, we meet with about 11 or 12 people right now. The meetings have been just completely awesome. We started meeting about 3 months ago. So the organic church life is a totally new view of the Lord and church with some of the believers there. They love the Lord with all there hearts. And they just love the fellowship. It’s like nothing they have ever experienced before in a fellowship of believers. It’s been about 10 years since my family has been in a fellowship of believers in a house setting. Oh, by the I saw you in person at the 2012 Threshold conference with Frank Viola and Allen. I loved the conference very much…it was like walking through a wardrobe into the Heavenly Kingdom. And, I know that from Sparks that the experience at the conference doesn’t have to be just at conferences or special events. He said you can have your own Revival in your heart everyday. So I have a question to you Milt. I was wondering if be okay if you and your wife would come visit us in Alexandria, Louisiana? Just to fellowship with us and maybe share your testimony with the believers here? All expenses paid for!!

  7. Thanks Milt – I agree with you. I am more referring to the dynamic of fellowship and relationships that are forged between people who have forsaken self and discovered Christ as their life, than the necessary practical considerations that should accompany church life. if the latter is not subject to the former, all is in vain. But one should indeed not discount the latter. Thanks for the links!

  8. I can hear that you have some fire on this one. I agree, living out of your self life or putting yourself before others will not allow the life of Christ to come forth.

    Christ died so that we could have life, His life, and have it more abundantly.

    I believe death is a part of that process. As the Lord said, a seed has to go into the ground and die before can bring forth a life bearing grain, tree, fruit, etc.

    I can also see how letting go of our dreams could hinder the expression of Christ in the world.

    When we are living as born again, spirit filled, believers seeking His life over our own, we will have desires and dreams still, but they will look more like His desires and dreams.

    I think sometimes we can get too zealous and try to ‘kill’ ourselves as Christians. I wonder what the body of Christ and the world are missing out on because we can think we are doing a service to God by not following our desires and dreams.

    I think God also puts desires and dreams in our hearts because he wants to use them to bless his Kingdom.

    It takes wisdom, experience in the church life, revelation by the Holy Sprint, knowing yourself, bothers and sisters knowing you, your identity in Christ, an understanding of the Lords heart, many things to know the difference.

    That’s my 2 cents.

  9. Dear Milt,
    as always, you hit the heart of the matter! After hearing this I believe there is no place to hide. I have also realised ‘dying’ as you describe it does not only involve sacrificing everything but also being aware and available every moment to hear his voice and allowing Him to interrupt our schedules. Its a daily dying process too.

    Miss you and fondly remember our contact with you 2 years ago

    Fergus

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