Sunday, December 8, 2013

What do folks see in us?

We arrived today at the end of Paul's Second Missionary Journey, and his good-bye to the Church.  I love the passages that remind me of the diversity of the Church--and it seems clear there were a variety of gatherings called the Church (not just one meeting place).  I think our tendency is to be a bit narrow in our view of church--thinking only of the building we go to on Sunday morning.  God is so much BIGGER than that!

As he prepared to leave, Paul said he was captivated by the Spirit and in that captivity ready to face whatever earthly trials were to come.  He admonished the Church to remember his testimony...a witness of living wholly for Christ.  Are we ready to say that to folks:  'Look at how I live and know what faith in Christ looks like.'?  That is a daunting statement!

Paul said his life demonstrated repentance toward God--true heart sorrow (for having gone his own way) that included a willingness to change and faith toward Jesus Christ--total reliance on the completed love-work of the Savior.  Then Paul said, others will come who live for themselves.  Take note of the testimony lives reveal and be wise about good--and simple about evil.  False leaders look and sound good.  Check this out: 

and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.
This is that hard balance part of Christianity, because while it is not a legalistic system, there is Truth and doctrine.  Doing (or saying) good is not the same as repentance and faith.  Paul reviewed his example of sharing ALL the counsel that God gave him and encouraged the Church to do the same for others because Jesus bought and paid for them with his blood.

Finally, he entrusted the Church to the Grace of God.  That's where we all need to live--in grace--for we are imperfect, fallen folks.  The only way any of us stand in Christianity is in GRACE!  The testimony of our lives must be one that blazes forth the undeserved favor of God--for our 'goodness' is just filthy rags.  Freedom to live for Christ comes only with grace!

So, let's follow Paul's example:  Let go of our own wisdom, rejoice in the passion and perfect work of Jesus and give our all to those who come into our lives.

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