Sunday, December 27, 2009

I'm supposed to do what?!

     I don't know about you, but I had a great Christmas. My heart goes out to those who didn't have a good Christmas this year. I know that my words don't take away the hunger that millions of people felt this year. I know my words didn't give shelter to those who were in need of a home or even provide clothes for those who spent their year battling harsh weather on the streets, but my heart is filled with compassion towards them. Instead of beating myself up saying "I wish I could do something" like many people do (and I catch myself saying it too, I'm just as guilty of accepting defeat) I decided something needs to be done... rather, I need to get involved.
     You might wonder what inspired such a conclusion. I'll tell you. For Christmas I got a gift card to Barnes and Noble and I bought a book today called The Hole In Our Gospel by Richard Stearns. From the beginning paragraph of chapter one I immediately realized something (not just within the confines of my mind, but in the deepest part of my soul). I realized that Christians, including myself, are called to live out Gods kingdom, as it is in heaven, here on earth! I know we get so familiar with church that we can become desensitized to such terms or ideals because we hear it so much, but this is truly important. Catch this please. The Gospel, or the "Good news", goes WAY beyond salvation through Christ and forgiveness of our sins. This kingdom we hear about is captured in the Beatitudes (Matt. 5:3-10). Most of us are familiar with it and it goes like this:
"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted...."
In Stearns' book he says "The kingdom of which Christ spoke was one in which the poor, the sick, the grieving, cripples, slaves, women, children, widows, orphans, lepers, and aliens - the 'least of these' (Matt. 25:40) were to be lifted up and embraced by God. It was a world order in which justice was to become a reality, first in the hearts and minds of Jesus' followers, and THEN to the wider society through their influence. Jesus' disciples were to be the salt and light to the world."

     Did you catch what I'm getting at? It starts first in the hearts of the believers, us! Then through our influence others would catch it, they would see what we have, and they would be changed, but NOT through coercion! "God's love was intended to be demonstrated, not dictated. Our job is not to manipulate or induce others to agree with us or to leave their religion and embrace Christianity. Our charge is to both proclaim and embody the gospel so that others can see, hear, and feel God's love in tangible ways." According to Luke 17:21 the kingdom of God lives within us. I'd say that leaves us with much power and responsibility to put our faith into action or work. If people think there is a "hole" in our gospel, it's not because the Bible lacks instruction or isn't clear on issues. The issue is that we, "Christians", have chosen to pay little attention to the scriptures instruction and wisdom. The problem isn't with God, it's with His followers. Let us take heed in God's instruction for our lives...not to be legalistic, judgmental, or to have a "holier-than-thou" attitude, but to demonstrate what we claim to believe. If we really believe what God claims, why are we fighting against what should be our treasure?

In awe,

Nick Jones

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