The blog post “Russian Culture And The Christian Church” has stirred up some debate and controversy within the circles of the Slavic community.
I wrote that post, hoping that it will speak to the people in the Sacramento area, as this region has been my home ever since my family immigrated to the US in 1993.
What I hoped and prayed for was a tiny spark of change to grow into a roaring fire of awakening. What I hope I do not see yet again is defeat…
The community I wrote about is the community I am very familiar with.
A simple Google search of “Slavic Churches in Sacramento, CA” gives about 49,500 results. Obviously the results are not individual churches. However, the fact remains: Sacramento is home to hundreds of Slavic churches.
Yes, I have not been intimately involved with all of the Slavic churches in Sacramento. However, I have been a member of one church for over a decade and during that time, visited the numerous “sister churches” multiple times. It was from that perspective that I shared what was on my heart.
Yes, I am not an “official spokesperson” of the Slavic community in Sacramento, as someone has stated on one of the Facebook discussions, and nor did I ever claim to be one. Nor do I have any ounce of desire to be one…
I am simply God’s child. The King’s daughter.
I love my Jesus with a passion I have always hungered for, while attending one of the Slavic Conservative/Independent Baptist churches. My love and my passion for my Savior were the only things that kept me going and fighting for change despite the difficulties…
God put a burning love for all people and a passionate desire to save the lost into my heart.
I hurt for the young people who are being damaged by religion. And yes, I am going to stand by these words:
WE HAVE TURNED A SIMPLE GOSPEL INTO A COMPLICATED PROBLEM CALLED RELIGION…
What I mean by that is not just the micro issues in the individual churches – makeup or no makeup, head coverings, jewelry, etc. – but also the macro issues like Baptists vs. Pentecostals, Law vs. Grace, etc…
While I wrote the article fully convinced that was being put on my heart by the Holy Spirit, I believed that He would take it to those who would need it. What I was not expecting is the article being shared so widely.
But here we are…
I imagine numerous discussions took place at Slavic homes around the US.
What were they?
One has to only look at the diversity of the comments of that post to get an idea…
A few days ago, several believers reached out with their own responses. They all have made valid points.
Pastor Russel Korets wrote Response to “Russian Culture and The Christian Church.”
Eugene Kovalenko referred to an article he wrote in 2014: 5 Things Slavic Churches Must Do to Survive and Thrive.
Andrey Bulanov wrote Moving Forward in Russian Church Culture.
These articles, along with the hundreds of responses to the post, portray the difficult problem that has been a burden on so many hearts.
What is the simple solution?
FOCUS ON JESUS, THE CROSS, AND THE SIMPLICITY OF THE GOSPEL.
You see, what we have here is a possibility for real change. Young believers on fire for Jesus are talking about the issue. They desire change. They are hungry for God!
And yet there is another possibility. One propagated by the enemy: to focus on bickering with each other and defending ourselves…
I don’t know about you but I am done with that and not looking back.
I refuse to let the enemy gain any more ground over our pointless discussions of who is right and who is wrong!
I refuse to let the enemy plant more seeds of doubt into the growing generation!
I refuse to let the enemy destroy this spark!
Jesus has already won the war! We are not going to lose this battle!
We can discuss this issue until we turn blue in the face and nothing will happen. We can talk about hundreds of different solutions and analyze it from thousands of different points of view.
What is the simple solution?
FOCUS ON JESUS, THE CROSS, AND HIS RESURRECTION.
Yes, it is that simple. The simple unadulterated Gospel. The truth that sets us free…
However, WE have made it very complicated. Our traditions, our culture, our attitudes, our feelings, our self obsession, etc – we allowed all of that to take our focus off the one who died for all of humanity, who died for HIS BRIDE.
This bride was purchased with the precious blood of Jesus (Acts 20:28). This bride is precious in God’s eyes.
“Then Jesus told his disciples, ‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.'” Matthew 16:24
“Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me.” Matthew 10:38
“And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.” Luke 14:27
Focus on Jesus, focus on the cross, focus on the Gospel message and all of a sudden we are united in love towards one another AND to the lost, with AGAPE – God’s love.
The essence of this love is SELF SACRIFICE.
Read the following passage as if you are reading it for the first time… Contemplate on every word… Let it sink in…
“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.
So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” (1 Corinthians 13)
God’s son sacrificed himself to pay the most precious price ever paid for a bride and we are bickering…
That was not what He designed us to be!
A great awakening is coming.
I know it.
Where will you stand?
Will you stand and take on your full identity in Christ or will you continue to grow your religious kingdom?
Who has believed what he has heard from us?
And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
For he grew up before him like a young plant,
and like a root out of dry ground;
he had no form or majesty that we should look at him,
and no beauty that we should desire him.
He was despised and rejected by men;
a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief;
and as one from whom men hide their faces
he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
Surely he has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
smitten by God, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his wounds we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned—every one—to his own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.
He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,
yet he opened not his mouth;
like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,
and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,
so he opened not his mouth.
By oppression and judgment he was taken away;
and as for his generation, who considered
that he was cut off out of the land of the living,
stricken for the transgression of my people?
And they made his grave with the wicked
and with a rich man in his death,
although he had done no violence,
and there was no deceit in his mouth.
Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him;
he has put him to grief;
when his soul makes an offering for guilt,
he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days;
the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.
Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied;
by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant,
make many to be accounted righteous,
and he shall bear their iniquities.
Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many,
and he shall divide the spoil with the strong,
because he poured out his soul to death
and was numbered with the transgressors;
yet he bore the sin of many,
and makes intercession for the transgressors.
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