I think we're narrowing down the church search. We've been visiting various Sunday School classes at a local megachurch, and we may just land there. I feel torn about it because I really prefer a smaller, homier atmosphere, but David and I have never been shrinking violets, so I think we can thrive in a larger church with a little effort. But anyway.... one of the reasons we really enjoy the church is that their pastor is a great, humble guy who's been there for the past 20 something years. He has a loving family and is still on his first wife. =) And he can sure pack a punch in his sermons. David and I left this Sunday morning mulling over his sermon and brainstorming about things we can do better. Hopefully much better.
I guess the jist of some of it was that many of us have become ok with the mediocre Christian life. He wanted to know if we're ok with this continuing in the New Year. Somewhere along the way, we've forgotten the awesomeness of the gift of grace, or worse, we've taken it completely for granted. The joy of our salvation doesn't make us want to become more like Christ. It doesn't make us want to do anything but sit back and enjoy the temporal blessings that God has provided, like a warm house, cable tv, a loving family, toys for the kids, etc. We live our daily lives unimpressed and unchanged by our beliefs. We don't talk about them; we don't share them with others, even in the mildest ways.
And in not talking about our salvation or even mildly attempting to share the message of God's salvation with others, we may be saying that we don't really believe it. The pastor talked about "practical unbelief." I'm still mulling this one over. I may say I believe that Christ is the only way to God, and that I believe that his substitution for my sins on the cross is the way to be saved from a painful eternity without him, but do I really believe that if I'm not willing to share that message with others?
I sat and thought about it a bit, and I guess I didn't conclude the same thing he did about "practical unbelief." I do believe those things, on most days and in most moments. I would be a liar if I didn't say that I've had moments when I've wondered about the truth of my beliefs, especially in times of complete darkness in my life. But I think the reasons that I'm reluctant to share my faith are more complicated than that.
That being said, there was still plenty of conviction in the pastor's message for me. There are so many ways that I can try to open a conversation with my non-Christian neighbors about the gospel. I can make simple statements to gauge their interest, and I can leave it at that if they appear to be uninterested. The last thing I want to do is push someone farther away from Christ by heavyhanded attempts.
But I have been a Christian wimp. I believe in the power of the Gospel to save. Am I really such an important player in that that God can't get around me if I do screw up? All I have to do is try my best. I don't have all the answers. I'll be sweating bullets if someone asks me something I can't answer. But it is my responsibility to try to proclaim the faith that has given my life purpose and meaning and joy. I truly want others to have that joy. I guess I don't share because I'm afraid they don't want it. And I certainly can't make them desire something. I don't have the power to do that.
I don't know who reads my blog, but I'm sure there are some of you out there who don't believe in Christ Jesus. For all of you out there who do not know Him, this is my simple, pathetic attempt at presenting the Gospel. I am pathetic, but He is not. God created you, He loves you, and He wants a relationship with you. He sees everything that happens to you, and He rejoices when you're happy and cries when you're sad. There is nothing that He'd like more than to have you as His child. Unfortunately, there's a problem. He is completely and totally holy. He has never sinned, and He cannot have sin in his presence. (Believe me, we wouldn't want a God who was as sinful and shiftless as we are.)
We are sinners. We continually fall short of His perfect holiness in a million ways. We lie, we cheat, we steal, we plot murder in our hearts, we hate, we're lazy, the list goes on and on. In our worst moments, we know this is completely true about us. Thankfully, there is a way for us to come to God. God sent his son, Jesus Christ, to die for our sins on the Cross. Our sins deserved death, but a perfect man paid for them with his own blood so that we could come to God. There must be a sacrifice for sin, and he paid it. The only thing we have to do to be able to come into the presence of a perfect God is accept Christ's payment for our sins. I think that's completely awesome.
And for all of you out there who do know this, who would probably call yourselves Christians if asked, but who have a nagging feeling in your heart that you haven't bothered much to try and figure out if your life is displeasing to God...
God wants a relationship with you. He loves you so much, and He wants your life. He gave it to you in the first place, and He wants to see you living it for its highest purpose. He wants you to lay down at his feet all of those things that you've been holding back, all those sins that are making a barrier between you and him. He wants you to stop living with your boyfriend, he wants you to stop unashamedly hating your mother-in- law, he wants you to struggle and give up that internet pornography addiction. You'll be so glad when you do. His ways are much higher than yours, and He knows what's best for your life. Seek Him, and He will help you obey him, no matter how hard it is. You'll be so glad that you did.
There is nothing more fulfilling and wonderful than a life lived in close relationship with God. I've had that, and I've also walked away. I have cherished my sin. But it's so much better to give it up, let God cleanse you, and restore that relationship. Take it from me, a total sinner who knows that she needs this advice that she's dishing out.
Yeah, it's a cop out to witness on the web and not in real life. So I'm not going to do that. This is just a first step for me. Christ has given me so much joy, joy that didn't leave me completely even in the toughest times of my life. I believe the truth of what I say here. And I want you to know it, not so you can be just like me or do something to please me, but because there is nothing better in life than this. I pray that you will find Him in new and amazing ways this New Year. I'm praying that for myself. =)