Posted by: pastortomvabeach | April 12, 2016

Thought For The Week April 17, 2016

I want to share something with you to show you what God can do if you will take the time to love others and invite them to meet your Savior and friend, Jesus. Many years ago a couple of young teen age guys came to the Lord through the ministries of Christian Chapel. They were aspiring rap artists and soon began to take Jesus’ message into their sphere of influence with their music.

Both of them grew up and I got the privilege of officiating their weddings. One became a Virginia Beach police officer and served several years before hearing another calling from the Lord. Trabellus Whitfield left law enforcement and entered vocational ministry and now serves as Associate Pastor at First Assembly of God in Lyndhurst, OH. I came across his blog today and asked him if I could share his thoughts with you. I am so proud of him and his wife, Joanne, not to mention his brother, Sirrico, who is an author and CEO of a publishing company in Virginia Beach. Oh, lest I forget, they still do some of the best rap I’ve ever heard.  Read Tre’s blog post because it speaks to something all of us need to hear.

“It seems to me that far too many Christians (especially young adult Christians) are applauding the ‘be religious without a label’ fad that’s becoming increasingly popular. Further, I’m broken hearted (and angered, if I’m being honest) by artists who built their careers on the backs of the church, and now that the world has noticed them, they are watering down their message (in music and interviews) under the guise of ‘being tactical’ or ‘wanting to reach a broader audience,’ and suggest that a label turns people away. The label that some are so afraid of, ashamed of, embarrassed about, or concerned about has its origin in Jesus Christ. He was crucified to give meaning and purpose to the same label some of us are removing from our identity. His life represents the true meaning of the label. He exemplified the label by standing in front of opposition, boldly proclaiming and living out the label. He had MUCH more to lose than money, popularity, friends, fanbase, and some opportunities to be heard by masses.

“The label ‘Christian’ was first used in Antioch (Acts 11:26), and it appears that it was primarily used (or only used) by non-believers as a way to distinguish followers of Christ from Jews and other religious groups. It is also recorded that it could have been a derogatory term used to poke fun at believers, calling them ‘little Christ’s.’ However, although the name itself may have been used initially by non-believers, or in a derogatory manner by Romans, the identity related to the name is not derogatory at all. I am proud to be identified as a Christian, or a ‘little Christ.’ What that really means is that I am one who believes that Jesus is who He said He is, I believe He was sacrificed for the sins that I committed, and I am one who is trying to live as Jesus lived. I proudly wear the label Christian. If someone uses that label to put me in the box of their misconceptions, or in their box of a bunch of poor representations of Christ, and they do so without first getting to know me personally, that speaks of a failure of due diligence on his or her behalf to really get to know who I am or exactly what I believe.

“Yes, there are people who wear the label ‘Christian’ who are bad representations of Christ. There are some who wear the label ‘Christian’ who I don’t think really live much like Christ at all. However, THEY are not the ones that give the label meaning. Think of it this way: the U.S. didn’t stop printing $100 bills because people started making fake $100 bills. Instead, new $100 bills were made to be more authentic, with more genuine and distinct details that would be very hard to duplicate which would make it much more difficult to counterfeit. Isn’t that an interesting concept? Instead of throwing out $100 bills all together, or changing the name from ‘one hundred dollar bill’ to, I don’t know, how about ‘a bill that happens to be one hundred,’ the U.S. logically made $100 bills more authentic which made it much more difficult to counterfeit! Instead of throwing away the label ‘Christian’ because of some counterfeits, how about if we focus more about being so authentic that the way we live as ‘Christians’ makes it much more difficult to be a counterfeit, and it makes it much easier to spot a real Christian from a fake Christian. (S/N: I understand the fad of removing the identifier ‘Christian,’ particularly in music, is about more than the argument I make above. However, my point goes beyond the music fad, I’m primarily speaking to the body of Christ in general).

“If you are Christ-like, if you are a ‘little Christ,’ if you are a believer in Jesus Christ, rise up!!! Be proud. Raise the banner. Rock the label. Don’t let this world that doesn’t know any better intimidate you with its sensationalism (ex. calling you intolerant). That’s just one example of the many inaccurate words used to conjure animosity between human beings with different beliefs. I say again…Be proud. Raise the banner. Rock the label.”

You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. Matthew 5:13

Doesn’t Tre offer a novel idea? Be such an authentic Christian that it’s difficult if not impossible to fake. Be so authentic that people can spot you right off as being a real follower of Jesus Christ! Did I say I’m proud of Tre? He is a product of your church. He was saved and began his journey with Christ here. Some of you had influence in his life and look what the Lord has done!

One of our values here is being future minded. Will you look around and find the Tre’s who are coming up now and be authentic examples of “little Christ’s” for them? If you will there will be a lot more Tre’s and Sirrico’s coming out of your church. Just a thought.

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