As I have said many times in the last few months, my faith changed and grew from where it was 3 years ago but in the last 6-8 months it has exploded into something so… well all encompassing. Now that’s not to say that it has encompassed my entire being, my whole existence. It too has been a gradual change, a gradual increase of faith knowledge that has lead to changes in my everyday life. I look back at the previous 30+ years of my life and I wonder where I was. How did I miss so many things at church? How did I not understand what I heard? How could I not have gotten even the basics that the bible teaches? I really have no answer except that maybe we just hear what we want to hear.
The greatest amount of change has come in the area of what I consider sin, what I feel sinning is, how God views it and who does it. The answer to the last one…EVERYONE!!! The answer to the first one… a vast number of things that we do each and every day. And when I first began to explore the ‘mistakes and sins’ that we all make I felt so very overwhelmed. I didn’t understand how everyone could sin and still make it to the kingdom of God. So much of what I grew up to believe hinged on ‘being good and doing good’ as a means to get there. It was just kind of an assumed thing. And when I realized that wasn’t how it worked I was overwhelmed with questions. I wish I’d seen this scene, really focused on this message from the character Nathan in Courageous. He gives such a good explanation.
"Let me break it to you this way, you are guilty. Listen, one day you, me, and every one of us are gonna have to stand before God, and he's gonna do what good judges do."
Now if I stopped here I’d be stuck where I was above because I’d be so concerned with what happens every day in our lives that I’d be so very afraid to stand before God. So afraid, in fact, that I figured almost impossible. This scripture confused me.
Luke 13:23-24 NLT)
23 Someone asked him, “Lord, will only a few be saved?”
He replied, 24 “Work hard to enter the narrow door to God’s Kingdom, for many will try to enter but will fail"
I felt it was telling me that very, very few Christians would make it to heaven. And I think that sometimes this is emphasized too much, it is presented too strongly. What I’ve come to realize is that very few people are Christians…thus why Jesus told us to work hard to enter the narrow path…the path less travelled, the path filled with ruts, ravines, mountains and roadblocks. Also the path that so many don’t choose to take or that as you waiver in taking it you will be bombarded with reasons not to, influences so strong it may seem easier to not take that path. It will be hard but having perseverance will enable you to continue on that path. Many people will try to enter…by thinking that attending church once a week, or less often, by giving to charity, offering their help to others, being kind, honest, considerate etc. They believe that is what it takes. But it takes all those things and so much more. God will judge you on your day but he doesn’t require us to be perfect to pass that judgement….
Nathan Hayes: "Ok. Suppose she (your mom) was brutally attacked, and murdered in a parking lot. The guy was caught and put on trial. They guy says hey judge, I've committed this crime, but I've done a lot of good in my life. If the judge let him go free, would you say he was a good judge or a bad judge?" ..."because the Bible says that God is a good judge, and He will punish the guilty, not for what they did right, but for what they did wrong. Because He loves us, He sent his son, Jesus Christ, to take the punishment that we deserved, and put it on Himself, and that's why He died on the cross. But it only applies, if you accept it. That's why I asked for his forgiveness. I asked Him to save me. And I'm a new man because of Christ. You understand what I'm telling you? Then what's holding you back?"
What a perfect thing to write about this week, this holiest of weeks. It truly is a choice and it truly is something that will make you new again. Recently I explored these very words…”what is holding you back” in part of my journey, my walk with Christ. I have asked for his forgiveness, I have asked him to save me. I feel more at peace, more connected, full of hope and joy but I am not sure I feel new yet. This Sunday our church is having a believers baptism. In the Evangelical Missionary Church of Canada and many other newer churches (and maybe some older ones…Baptists for sure) believe in mature baptism, made as a way to commit yourself to the Lord and done by full immersion just as was done in the bible.
Acts 8:38-39 (NIV)
38 And he gave orders to stop the chariot. Then both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water and Philip baptized him. 39 When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord suddenly took Philip away, and the eunuch did not see him again, but went on his way rejoicing.
A friend gave me an analogy of sorts to help me understand baptism. She said that if you know that you want to live for Him, then there is nothing stopping you from being baptized. 'Being baptized doesn't mean that you have it all together, or that you will not make mistakes any more; but that, you are choosing to identify with Christ in his death and his resurrection. When you go in the water... you are" dying" to your old self,(meaning trying to run your life on your own); when you come up, you are being raised into a new person, one that wants to follow Christ every day, knowing that we can't do it on our own, but only through the power and help of the Holy Spirit.'
And with that, I know that it is time for me to be, as Nathan said in the movie, new because of Christ…what is holding me back. Nothing…I will make mistakes, I do not have it all together and I do not know all there is to know but what I do know is that I want, very badly, to have God help me each step of the day through my life. I can’t do it on my own, I need the Holy Spirit.
And I can’t wait to give my old self to God, go down in the water and come back up, washed clean and ready to be the new me, the one who follows Christ every day.
What an Easter it will be (providing I get it all together enough to be prepared to do it so soon LOL)
I was going to sign off now but wanted to leave you with one more thing…this amazing song that makes me so emotional to think of all He gave up for me…
Above all powers, above all kings
Above all nature and all created things
Above all wisdom and all the ways of man
You were here before the world began
Above all kingdoms, above all thrones
Above all wonders the world has ever known
Above all wealth and treasures of the earth
There's no way to measure what you're worth
Laid behind a stone
You lived to die
Rejected and alone
Like a rose
Trampled on the ground
You took the fall
And thought of me
wow…there really is no way to measure what He is worth…He took the fall and thought of me above all. What’s holding you back…..