Wednesday, November 18, 2009

This is an excerpt from a message I previously shared with the youth of my church. I thought it bore repeating:

Point Number 3: Only when we realize God’s great love for us will we ever be of any true use to this world that we live in.

Your generation is full of people doing good things – for humanity and for the planet. What they often forget is that THIS WORLD IS NOT THE END. So the best thing we can do for humanity is direct it toward God, and lead them to Christ. That’s the point that Jesus was trying to make when he told the parable of the Good Samaritan. The respected teacher, who knew the law inside and out, didn’t even know how to gain eternal life. That’s what he wanted to know.
That is MAIN POINT of the ENTIRE BIBLE. Everything points to Jesus as the gate to eternal life. Jesus is called the DOOR, the WAY, the TRUTH, and he is called LIFE. Everything that happened in history led up to the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Everything that has happened since points back to it, reminding us that the world is going to get worse and worse. As GOOD SAMARITANS we not only need to practically help those in need, but we need to remind of them of their greatest need – the need to walk through the DOOR, the need to get on THE WAY to eternal life, the need to embrace TRUTH and the need to live eternally in heaven forever.
We cannot be like the first two people who passed the injured man by. They crossed over the other side of the road because they were either too busy or too apathetic to take the time to rescue and wounded man. Whatever the reason, they simply didn’t care enough. When we let our friends and those we love stay separated from God because we don’t care enough to share LIFE with them, we are telling them that we don’t care about them.
We are often guilty of this: that we would rather remain silent because in that silence is where we are in our comfort zone. I believe that if we are that person, the one who chooses not to speak or act, we are not transformed as Christians. We have either let fear overtake us or apathy control us. Either way, lives are destroyed and end up in hell forever and it’s our fault. We are not responsible for the outcome if a person chooses to reject Jesus as their Savior. We are gravely responsible for it if we have the opportunity to speak up and we choose not to.
I ask, “Who would the better neighbor be: the one who lets a person die, or the one who shared life with them?”
We cannot any longer sit idly by and watch our friends live any way they’d like, living this life to the fullest and all the while know that because they have rejected Christ they will end up in hell forever. Perhaps it is because at some level we find that the lifestyle they are living to be admirable. What is it in the way that they live their lives that we find appealing? Because the parties DO end. The good times are NOT without limit. There is fun and pleasure in doing all of those things, but it leaves an empty hole in that person’s life and it WILL never be filled if all they ever do is thrill-seek. And what happens when that person comes to the end of their life? They stand before God in judgment of how they lived their life. And if they have rejected God, he has no choice but to reject them. He cannot let just anyone have eternal life. That person must have walked through the DOOR, and into the WAY – that person must have accepted and lived his life for Jesus Christ.
And we must be the Good Samaritan. If we choose to pass by that person, we not only break the heart of God, but we ourselves become numb to the voice of God. God is crying out to us, asking us to be His hands, his feet.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Most Remarkable

So this week I was speaking to the youth group about the resurrection of Jesus. I admit this is a subject most often dealt with around the Easter holiday, but the theme of the night was "Superhero" and I couldn't think of a more supernatural event in all of history.

I challenged the kids with a question: "What is the thing that stands out most to you about the resurrection of Jesus Christ?" On the surface that's an easy question, but having given that question some thought, I decided I would take a stab at it.

Very often in my life I have taken the stories of the Bible for granted. One Bible teacher noted something I thought was appropriate to mention here, that we shouldn't really call them Bible stories, because that carries with it the idea that it is fictional. Instead, he prefers to call them accounts. Semantics? Maybe. But I get his point. Especially in regard to this story... I mean account.

Because the thing that stands out most to me about the narrative of the resurrection of Jesus Christ is that it's true. Doesn't that have to be to be the most significant point? Because if it was just a fictional story, all of Christianity would be a farce. But like every other verifiable historical account, the evidence for the truth of the story is overwhelming. I think if no one ever found the body of Christ, that wouldn't be enough proof for me to believe that the story is true. But when a reliable historical account like the gospels announces that Jesus appeared to all kinds of people after he rose from the dead, and that information was verified by non-Christian sources, it becomes extremely believable. What is also ironic to me is that for all those who would have liked to disprove the claims asserted in the gospel accounts it would have been easy for them to simply have produced the body of Christ. That didn't happen. And even today people search for evidence that Jesus didn't rise from the dead. There have been news stories where archaeologists have allegedly found the tomb of Jesus. But it's turned out to be bogus. Of course.

What's so impressive about this whole narrative is the lasting impact! It's a feat of supernatural strength that will last forever. And those of us who have been transformed by the power of a living God know that as we watch the world grow worse by the day, we have a hope that is completely unique - that we will live forever, completely free from the very power of death that Christ conquered 2000 years ago. We aren't reincarnated into cows, or beetles. We don't transcend to various states of consciousness. We, along with the rest of creation, are restored and reset to the way that we were designed to be. Forever. That's heaven, and that is the most impressive part of this narrative - that death no longer has any power over us. Amazing.