Courtesy: Daniel Bramlett
On Sundays, our Church is walking through the Book of Acts. I’m convinced Luke would be a New York Times bestselling author today! Sunday we took a look at chapter 15. This is one of the pivotal points in the story. It’s the place where the Church decides once and for all that the Holy Spirit is the only defining marker necessary for the believer, i.e. no circumcision is necessary. This is HUGE because the Jews were arguing up to this point that the Gentile believers were required to submit to circumcision, as well as the teachings of Jesus. Basically they wanted them to become Jews first and Christians second.
Luke tells the story so well that every reader is aware of the presence of the Spirit in the lives of the Gentiles. We see a theme developing: Grace + Faith in Christ alone = Everything. There is no other step.
The lesson the Church learned in Acts 15 sounds like this: What was once a source of life and breath, carried past the time of God’s activity, quickly becomes a weight; a yoke on the necks of God’s people. In the debate Peter even said, “Why are you putting God to the test by placing a yoke on the neck of the disciples that neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear?” The gist is this, why would we require more of a person than what God has already required?
I would like to talk about one area of the law that we like to keep around in our Churches. I’ll call it The Law of Acceptance. It sounds like this: You are welcome in our Church! We want you here! But you need to know up front, if you want to be a part of us, you know, a part of the ‘in circle’, then you have to give up all your bad habits, remove your tattoos, restyle your hair, take a bath, and get some knew clothes. Then, we’re gonna need you to get respectable employment, never have an argument with your wife in public, pay all your traffic fines, and start listening to Billy Graham AND Adrian Rogers broadcasts. If you do those things, then we’ll let you in! Simple as that!
You read that and think “That’s nonsense! We don’t do that at all!” Let me ask a question. How many people in your in circle abide by a list very similar to the one I just made? Restated: how many law breaking, tatted up, obscenity yelling, funky t-shirt wearing friends do you have?
Here’s my point, we are no better than those in Jerusalem claiming circumcision is required to follow Jesus if we keep to a list such as this!
If you truly desire to see people come to Christ, you will put your list, whatever it is, aside and allow Jesus to do the saving and the rule making. Jesus never called us to change people. That’s His job. Our job is to be His microphone of grace, mercy and truth.
This is how that looks: You meet a guy in Taco Bell (for argument’s sake, let’s say he fits most of the above description). He approaches you because he likes your t-shirt that says something about your Church. For the sake of conversation, let’s say you indulge him and begin a conversation. You find out he has a weird grasp on who God is and no understanding of the concept of grace at all. Maybe he uses the phrase “God and me are tight, like this!” But he has no idea what it means to have a relationship with Jesus. You take the opportunity to share the Gospel with him and he is visibly moved by your words. You pray with him and leave thinking you have done your ‘Jesus deed’ of the day. Your friend, however, has more questions now than ever before.
What would it look like for you to be friends with taco guy? Odds are your friendship will be the only one in his life that actually comes to close to embodying Jesus to Him. Let’s say he figures out where you live and comes knocking on your door. What do you do then? Do you brush him off like you would a mailbox salesman or do you invite him into your life? Let’s say he wants to come to Church with you. Do you let him sit with you? Do you take him to your Sunday School class? Do you invite him to lunch afterwards with your friends? AND do you do all of this without requiring him to change one single thing about his life?
People are starving for authentic Gospel conversations and relationships. They want so badly to see the Church in action. They only have one requirement: we must live what we preach. Do we truly believe the Holy Spirit has the power to convict hearts and change lives or do we practice being Secret Holy Spirit Agent ourselves? Do we really believe Jesus fulfilled the Law or are we actively chiseling amendments daily?
The Gospel is the power of God unto salvation. Do you like tacos? Buy tacos and freely give the Gospel away…no strings attached!
Courtesy: Daniel Bramlett