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.
It’s a common practice for someone to comment upon something that he perceives needs to be done, with the unspoken understanding that someone else should actually do it. A wife will mention to her husband how their gutters need to be cleaned out, or the trim on their house needs to be painted, or their windows need to be washed, or their kids’ bedroom needs to be painted, or their garage needs to be cleaned out, or their lawn needs to be weeded, etc., etc., etc. I don’t think it’s a sign of paranoia to say that a husband usually understands such comments to mean that, for the most part, his wife wants him to tend to those chores.
As a parent, when I look at my children, what do I see? Do I just see young children? Do I see my young children? Do I see some of the most special blessings the Lord could possibly give me in the persons of my young children? Do I see my young children, created in God’s blessed image and entrusted to my care by God Himself to be prepared for His eternal kingdom? What I see when I look at my children will determine the basic direction I will take and just what I will emphasize in their rearing and training.
There’s a lot of talk about the behavior, mentality, instability and direction of the children of our society. Kids are doing a lot of un-childlike things. Strange, crazy, down right evil things. A lot of folks are looking for somewhere to place the blame. On a smaller scale, the church is not exempt from what is going on. Statistically, our kids, literally the cream of the crop, are leaving the church at an alarmingly high rate, once they leave home and become independent. Youth ministers report that when our kids go off to college, a great percentage of them quickly stop attending church services on a faithful basis. The question for all of these situations is, “Why?”
Gary L. Hutchens