Would you like to change the world? How would you go about it? Well, you certainly would not be able to change the world’s physical characteristics, at least not on any significant scale. So, you would obviously focus on changing the people who inhabit the world. How would you change them? You would seek to change the way they act. But how would you do that? Since people act based upon what they think, you would seek to change the way they think, their values, their mindset, their direction in life.
There is a great deal of emphasis on love in our society today. Some of the emphasis is good, some not so good. Some is more surface level feel good rhetoric than substantive action. Many are quick to judge someone as being unloving, even hateful, if he does not conform to some superficial standard of their own choosing. Love should be long suffering. To some extent it is subjective. But even Godly love is not without limits. When it comes to teaching the gospel to lost souls, just what does love demand?
“Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people” (Prov. 14:34). This verse was not written just for the people of Israel and their neighbors in Old Testament times. It was written for all generations of people, of all nations, for all time, until the Lord returns. It was written for us in our nation, right now. The message of this verse is profound. It speaks God’s wisdom, and we need to take great care to understand and live by what it says.
What does the word “freedom” really mean? Ask ten different individuals, and you may get ten different answers. In general, the concept of freedom is that of being out from under the control of something, or someone. Thus, freedom is generally qualified according to what frame of reference is being used.
Each one of us has a comfort zone in which we live our life. It has to do with the kind of lifestyle that we’re comfortable living. We’re comfortable dressing in a certain style, eating certain foods, shopping in certain stores, being in certain neighborhoods, being associated with certain kinds of people, taking part in certain kinds of activities. Our comfort zone extends to our spiritual life, as well. We’re comfortable in a congregation with a certain kind of makeup with a certain style of preaching and a certain emphasis on our personal responsibility as individual Christians.
The word “gospel” means “good news.” It is a generic word but has come to be used, almost exclusively, to refer to the good news of salvation through Jesus Christ (Rom. 1:16). Jesus brought that message from Heaven to earth. The message is universal in that it is meant for all mankind. Yet it is very personal in that every human being must learn and accept it on an individual basis, one person at a time.
How serious should I be about being a Christian and living a faithful Christian life? Well, how serious should I be about living eternally with God and Christ in Heaven? How serious is it to contemplate an eternity in the torments of Hell? How serious is the sacrifice of God’s Son on the cross for the debt of my sin (Rom. 5:8)? How serious is death, since the wages of sin is death (Rom. 6:23)? How serious is it for the church to be identified as the body of Christ (Col. 1:18)? How serious is it for me to wear Christ’s name as I call myself a “Christian” (Acts 11:26)?
Tomorrow we celebrate Labor Day, a federal holiday set aside to honor the working people of this nation. The first Labor Day was celebrated on Sept. 5, 1882 in New York City. It was made a national holiday in 1894. While the holiday was originally designed to recognize organized labor, it has become a holiday for all workers. For many, it marks the end of summer and begins the activities of the fall season. It is somewhat interesting that a day designated as Labor Day is celebrated with a day taken off from laboring.
What does it mean to be a Christian? Different Christians would undoubtedly give different answers, based upon the greatest impact Christianity has had on their lives. Some would emphasize salvation. Some would highlight forgiveness, the forgiveness of their sins, the guilt of their sins lifted from their shoulders. Others would emphasize the peace that comes to the Christian who understands that he is “in Christ” and on his way to Heaven. Similarly, still others would focus on having gained a fuller meaning to their lives. Each of these answers would be correct, and all of them together would be correct as well.
There are folks who would like to have a sanitized church made up primarily of people pretty much like them. People of a similar professional, social, economic, educational and ethnic background. They don’t like the idea of being around people with a really wicked past, so they’re certainly not going to personally reach out to such people with the gospel.
Gary L. Hutchens