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?”
Where does “saving faith” come from? Faith is developed through learning the truths of God’s word (Rom. 10:17). But why do some people hear those truths and become Christians while other people hear the same truths and not obey them? Why do some Christians become dedicated and fervent in their faith, while other Christians are lukewarm, spiritually weak and only haphazardly dedicated? Do some people simply understand God’s word better than others? Do some Christians become stronger in their faith because they’ve learned more scripture than others? No, neither is truly the case. In truth it all comes down to a matter of love.
“We walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Cor. 5:7). My faith is my identity. It is who I am. My faith guides my daily life- where I go, what I do, how I act, how I talk, what kind of friends I make... My faith cannot be just a part of my life; it must become my life. My faith develops within me as a result of my exposure to, and acceptance of, “the faith.” The faith is not the same as my faith, though my faith depends upon the faith. That’s not double talk. The faith is the gospel message of Jesus Christ. From a broader perspective, it is all of God’s word. My faith is my response to the faith. It is because of that message that I have any faith at all.
Compromise is the willingness to give up something in order to get something. It is said to be the art of diplomacy. Savvy politicians will tell you that to be a successful politician you must learn to compromise. Because different philosophies and ideologies come to bear within political circles, it is difficult to accomplish anything without being willing to compromise somewhere along the line. Usually, neither side gets all of what it wants. Instead, each side gives up something in order to get some of what it believes to be best. While getting some of what it believes in, each side prevents the other from getting all of what it wants.
Does it matter whether we do what God instructs us to do in His word? Many folks would be considered to be good, religious people. They believe in God and believe themselves to be dedicated to Him. But their knowledge of His will is incomplete, because they have a limited knowledge of His word. Many think they’re saved, but they were never taught the complete truth on the subject of salvation. As a result, even though they did what they thought was right, and were sincere in what they did, they were not in compliance with God’s teaching on salvation.
Many people are taught that all they have to do to be saved is believe in God and Christ, say the sinner’s prayer and let Jesus into their heart. While such a plan of salvation is widely taught in denominations, it is not taught in the scriptures. There is no such example anywhere in the New Testament of anyone being saved by saying the sinner’s prayer. In fact, what denominations call the sinner’s prayer is not found in the scriptures at all. Jesus told the apostles to teach the gospel to everyone, and all who believe and are baptized will be saved (Mk. 16:15-16).
Gary L. Hutchens