Saturday, September 22, 2012

The Law of the Land

I'm reading a book - "Revolution in World Missions" by K. P. Yohannan, the founder of the organization Gospel for Asia.  It's changing my understanding of what I am supposed to be doing, as a follower of Christ.

So last night, I was reading this book, which is the story of how Mr. Yohannan started this organization to help Asian missionaries reach people for Christ in their own countries.  The part I was reading talked about the social gospel, and how ineffective it has been to actually reach people for Christ.  In case you're wondering, the social gospel is the idea that physical needs need to be taken care of before the spiritual needs can be met.

Mr. Yohannan related that in Asia, it has led to countless hospitals, schools, and rest homes, but very few conversions.  He makes the point that it is not easier for someone to come to Christ if he is rich than if he is poor, and if he is fed, than if he is hungry.

I began to think about the political situation here in the United States.  Christians are spending money and time trying to change the laws.  To make the laws of our country conform to God's laws.  Outlaw abortion.  Outlaw same-sex marriage.  Censor porn.  And vote for those politicians who say they will make these laws.

What are we doing?  Has following the law - even "The Law" - ever earned someone eternal life?  How is having the right laws going to make this a more Christian nation?  We are acting like the scribes and pharisees in Jesus' day.  We are trying to get people to follow our laws, but not leading them to the fulfillment of the law - Jesus Christ.

"Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!  For ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves."  Matthew 23:15.  

Jesus didn't mince words.  All of the laws and the rules and the rituals were useless then, and they are just as useless, now.  

"Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law:  for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified."  Galatians 2:16.  

We are saved by grace, not by works.  

January 6, 1919, the 18th amendment to the United States Constitution was ratified.  It prohibited the manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors in the united states - otherwise known as the prohibition of alcohol.  It was repealed December 5, 1933 by the 21st amendment.  From what I remember from history class, outlawing alcohol mostly turned citizens into lawbreakers.  It didn't stop anyone from drinking alcohol.

Honestly, being under the drinking age in college didn't stop me from drinking alcohol, either.  However, now that I am old enough to drink, I don't.  Do you know why?  Because I was saved by grace.  I no longer belong to that life.  I am a new creation in Christ Jesus.  I'm not saying that having a drink is wrong, but for me, it was part of a lifestyle that I no longer live.  The law didn't change my life.  Jesus did.

I started crying last night, because I saw in my mind a city full of people.  And I knew that they were all lost.  And I knew then that prohibiting same-sex marriage won't save homosexuals, and prohibiting abortions won't save unwed mothers, and censoring pornography won't save anyone from an eternity in Hell.  Only the saving grace of Jesus can do any of that.

"For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.  How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed?  and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? and how shall they preach, except they be sent?...So then, faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God."  Romans 10:13-15,17.

All of our self-righteousness and our striving to get people to bend to our rules are futile.  More than futile:  FATAL!  While we spend our time, money, and energy trying to "take back America," millions are dying without God.  We can't save our country.  Only God can do that.  Do you think he's going to do it because we're being good Pharisees and following the law?  I don't.  I think he's watching us walk around in our insulated bubbles, trying to show everyone how to live the "right way," and he's crying.

Because for each of our perfect little families, there are a multitude that haven't been saved because they haven't called on the name of the Lord.

And they haven't called on him because they haven't believed.

And they haven't believed in him because they haven't heard.

And they haven't heard, because they don't have a preacher.

And they haven't preached, because they haven't been sent.

And they haven't been sent because we are too busy trying to fix people's earthly lives for them, all the while ignoring their eternal souls.

We are in danger of losing our rights in this country.  The rights of free speech and of freedom of religion, to name two.  If you want to change this country, work to keep those rights, and then USE THEM!  Jesus gave us a mandate.  To go and to preach.  Not to judge.  Not to make people behave.  To pray, not to prod.  Definitely not to try to make this world, or this country, more comfortable for us.

"Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.  For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel's, the same shall save it.  For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?  Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?  Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels."  Mark 8:34-38

If you are reading this and you have never heard about Jesus Christ, or if you believe in him but figure that you are beyond help, please believe me. - God loves you.  No matter what.  

There is nothing you have done, or could ever do, that he won't forgive you for.  He wants you to live with him forever.  But you have to make that choice.  You don't have to fix yourself before he will accept you.  You just have to accept him, and he will work in your life to make you into the person he created you to be in the first place.  

You don't have to have fancy words, or be in a church.  Just pray.  Tell God that you are sorry for all of the bad things you've done.  And face it, we've all done bad things.  But you don't have to keep doing them.  Ask God to clean all that junk away.  He promises to throw it so far that he won't even see it again!  Now, tell him that you want to be with him forever, and that you want his son, Jesus, to be in charge of your life.  Believe me, he does a better job of it - I've tried it both ways, and I always mess it up, but God's way is perfect.  Now, step out into your new life, and be ready to tell someone else about it!  Because once you've given up that old, sinful self, and seen what the peace of God really feels like, you're going to want everyone else to have it, too!

Now, your new life may not be easier.  In fact, it may be harder.  But it will definitely be better.

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