I love to spend time with people who are searching for meaning in life. I find that often many of them grapple with tough questions. They sincerely yearn to know God. Repeatedly I find that most of these folks will not go to church. They’ve tried. They have attended different fellowships but left in frustration. Three themes regarding their disappointment emerge.
1. Church is irrelevant to their needs.
2. They see little difference between the people going to church and themselves (why would I want to become like them, they basically behave as I do!)
3. They do not measure up to the principles Christians tout and feel judged for their shortcomings.
I will briefly address this last theme because it seems to be one that many of us who know Jesus fail to understand. In fact, I would go so far as to suggest this is a major reason why the church is failing to reach our nation with the gospel message. When we become Christians the Holy Spirit makes us conscious of sins that as nonbelievers mattered little to us. But always He does this in the context of drawing us closer to our Holy Father. Language is a good example of this. Before a person knew Jesus swearing may have been no big deal. When Jesus becomes Lord the individual, under godly conviction, cleans up his language. Now he exports his personal experience as a standard to uphold by admonishing anyone around him who swears. Co-workers feel uncomfortable and stop socializing with the new “fanatic.” They don’t see Jesus as a Savior but rather as a rule-promoter. Yet, believers stroke the rookie for taking a stand. So he takes his cue from them! Forgetting that it was God’s grace that reached him, he draws attention to people’s shortcomings instead of to Christ. Now we have a problem.
When principles become more important than Jesus, we lose our heart for those without Christ. We judge the unmarried couple living together. Instead of seeing their need for Jesus we focus on their immorality. The neighbor who prefers wine coolers won’t invite us over because we preach against drinking. While our list of principles grows, our tolerance and heart for the hurting shrinks. While our motives may be right, the message we broadcast stinks.
We should take our cue from Jesus. Who did He spend His time with? Why was it that the lost flocked to Him? Could it be that He focused on their hearts and not on their habits? Principles are not the problem, our priorities are the problem. It is the job of the Holy Spirit to convict. It is the job of Christians to be lights. When we reverse the order we become junior Holy Spirits and darkness advances.
John 3:17-- For God did not send His Son into the world that He might condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.
Distortions of belief come because principles are put in the place of Jesus Christ.—Oswald Chambers in Disciples Indeed
©2003 Daniel York ARR. Reveration is the weekly devotional ministry of First Cause. If you would like to receive these devotionals go to www.firstcause.org and click on the “Click here to receive weekly devotionals” box. Unlimited permission to copy this devotional without altering text or profiteering is allowed subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.
Ecclesiastes 12:10-The Teacher sought to find delightful sayings and to accurately write words of truth. (Holman CSB)