Consider Christianity - do you want to be a Christ follower?
God loves you! - “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)
OK, so God loves me, great. Why the fuss about Jesus? If God loves us, it’s “all good,” right? Most of us don’t experience life as “all good.”
Sometimes life hurts and disappoints. We've said and done things we wish we could take back, or had things said and done to us we'd like to erase. If life is “all good,” what’s up with that?
And, sometimes life doesn’t make sense, seems random, even purposeless. Be honest, a minute after your last breath, will it really matter that you’ve visited every state or every nation? Fun, interesting, but can that really be the point of life? Jesus didn’t seem to think so. He said he brought “more” to life - “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” (John 10:10)
Have you ever used an AAA triptik? Along with trip planning maps and traveling directions, you can find AAA Approved and Diamond Rated places to stay and dine. Wouldn’t that be great on a wider scale, say in living a life of meaning and purpose that pleases the God who loves us?
Here’s the “triptik” version of “Why Jesus?” (Roman Road of Salvation)
1. You’re not where you need to be – “Because of our sin, we are separated from God. For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23)
2. There are consequences to a “less than” life – cold and empty relationships, fear and frustration, a sense that there “must be more.” Ignore God, grump at the kids, your spouse or boss long enough and you’ll know the consequences of a “less than” life – “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 6:23)
3. Consider a life guard scanning the water. She sees someone struggling and races into the water to rescue a swimmer who thought they could “handle it.” That’s the story of Christ – “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)
A primary rule of water rescue is: you can’t rescue someone who is struggling. “I can do it!” – thwarts the rescue attempt. So does someone flailing around, refusing to accept their very real limitations. We are rescued, “saved,” when we accept our limitations and God’s offer of help – “If we repent of our sin, then confess and trust Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, we will be saved from our sins! For whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Romans 10:13)
4. Ever met someone who “talked a good game”? “Yeah, when I was in Texas…” and they describe something wacked about your home town – obviously, they’ve never been there, just read AAA’s triptik. Some “religious” folks are like that – they know the language of, but not the person of, Christianity - Jesus the Christ. When you meet Jesus, you’re not perfect, but the journey and destination change.
The Spirit of Christ begins challenging and changing your “normal” – your thoughts, feelings, and actions. It’s not about praying a prayer. It’s about accepting the rescue and changing the way you travel – “If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” (Romans 10:9,10)
It begins with a new awareness – I’m in trouble here. It finds focus in an expressed thought – a prayer. Maybe one like this: “God, I accept that I’m imperfect and cannot live forever in my imperfection in your perfect Presence. I do believe Jesus is your plan to rescue and restore me. Help me stop struggling and accept Jesus’ way of life. I want the joy, meaning, and purpose, that come from following Jesus instead of struggling on my own. Amen.”
Baptism – identify with Christ and the worldwide Christian community. Baptism is to faith as a wedding ring is to marriage. It’s a matter of sincerity and an openness to honest growth. Being baptized doesn’t make you a Christ follower any more than wearing a wedding ring makes you honor your marriage vows. But, if you’re married, why wouldn’t you wear a ring? It tells the world of your committed love for another. So does baptism.
Bible – learn from the women and men of faith who have struggled with the same issues you face. It’s better to discover the law of gravity in a textbook than through “trial and error” by falling off a cliff. The same is true of the laws that govern relationships with God and others – “Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” (Psalm 119:105)
Prayer – all humans have a conscience, an inner conversation about right and wrong that envisions the future, considers the present, and remembers the past. Christians have a new conversation that often argues with the old one. The Holy Spirit wants to mature us into a reflection of God’s Son – “For his Holy Spirit speaks to us
deep in our hearts and tells us that we are God's children.” (Romans 8:16)
Church – we all think that we’re loving, kind, patient, and basically good, until someone cuts us off in traffic or wants the TV remote control. Real faith is developed in the space between people and in the gap between God’s hoped for and our actual response to life. A healthy local church is a “laboratory for love” that helps us discover and develop who God has created us to be. A solo Christian is vulnerable – “Let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works; not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.” (Hebrews 10:24, 25)
If you would like to know more about a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, please contact pastor Jerry by e-mail or through the church office – 868-6178. You also might want to “kick our tires” here at Hudson First United Methodist Church.
Real Faith? Message by Samuel Wells, Duke University
Bible - Verses about God's saving grace in Jesus Christ.