As I noted a couple of blogs ago, we moved to Mississippi in early 1992 and began looking for a good church, busy doing the Isaiah 58 and Matthew 25 acts of loving service in the community around them.  I didn’t want one of those “salvation factories” which became so prevalent in modern evangelicalism which reduced the amazingly endless lessons of the Bible and boiled them down to just pushing the message of Jesus on the cross.  Don’t get me wrong.  That message of Jesus on the cross is a very important message which allowed us to be reconciled to God.  But God was working in people’s lives before the incarnation of Christ, and He has been working in people’s lives after the incarnation, crucifixion, and resurrection of Christ.  The moment of salvation is only the beginning.  The message of God is not just the rebirth.  It is also about how God changes lives, working His work of sanctification the rest of our lives, walking with us in close fellowship (as close as we permit Him and as close as we seek to be near Him). 

If the entire story of Christianity stopped at that moment of salvation, it would be an amazing story, but it would not be what the world really needs.  Just getting their Jesus ticket punch does not change their lives.  The amazing, constant, and persistent work that He does every day of our life thereafter as He changes our character to be more like Him is the really amazing story.  This is what the world really needs.  You may think I’m off base here, but I have lived long enough to see and attend some of these “salvation factories” that preached nothing but Jesus and salvation.  Sure, they had impressive numbers of baptisms, but because they did not give the rest of the story in discipleship and loving service to the community around them, their members tended to be very immature Christians, and their membership was very volatile with just as many people going out the back door as coming in the front.  

Think about it.  If a hospital were run the way these “salvation factories” were run, they would have everyone working down in the maternity ward and would not have people taking care of the plethora of functions that a hospital performs that address the many other problems people have.  The same is true of our churches.  We don’t need every one hanging out in the maternity ward, just preaching the message of new birth and leaving the people without the meat they need for growth the rest of their lives in order to develop into effective servants of God, performing loving acts of service that God wants us to do every day in accordance with Isaiah 58 and Matthew 25.  Then, when we have served people, they will want to know the message of Jesus and they will take us more seriously because we live the love of Christ instead of just giving it lip service.  Remember the old saying, “They don’t care what you know until they know that you care.”

I pray that God will fill you with His wisdom and that you will draw near to Him so that He may also draw near to you.

 


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    I'm a retired soldier, having spent 23 years of my life serving our country, actually 30 years when you count the reserve and National Guard time as well.  I believe in servant leaders, following the example of our Lord, and I believe in giving back to the troops once one has attained a certain status or level of success in life.  But I also believe in fighting back against corruption and incompetence wherever you find it if it hurts people.  Our national values were worth dying for.  They are also worth living for.  A man or woman can actually live a life by these principles of humility, service, love, duty, and honor, and have a significant impact on the world around them...if you have the dedication to see it through. 

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