Victoria, my four-year-old granddaughter, was so excited to finally get to go to school, she could barely control herself. The evening before her big day, she laid her clothes out on the floor next to her bed, along with her new Elsa backpack, that was packed with new crayons. She got up early, put on her most dressy dress, through on some of her mother’s make-up, and after breakfast sat in front of her computer for 2 hours.
It’s just not supposed to be this way.
Our culture is in disarray, and sadly, so is the church. The church of Laodicea in Revelation 3 seems to be describing so many churches. “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! Because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind, and naked” (Revelation 3:15-17).
How bad is it? Barna group did some research on the state of today’s church. Jesus commands us to love God and to love others (Matthew 22:37-40). Only 16% of churchgoers recognize this verse.
Our charge is to “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28: 18-20). Only 37% of churchgoers recognize the passage.
Contrast that with the first church in Jerusalem. In Acts 2: 29-33, we see the foundational focus of Peter’s sermon was the gospel: the death and resurrection of the living Christ. His preaching was powerful, and as a result, many came into the faith that day.
“Brothers, I can speak confidently to you about our forefather David, that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. So then, because he was a prophet and knew that God had sworn to him with an oath to seat one of his descendants on his throne, David by foreseeing this spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that he was neither abandoned to Hades nor did his body experience decay. This Jesus God raised up, and we are all witnesses of it. So then, exalted to the right hand of God, and having received the promise of the Holy Spirit from the Father, he has poured out what you both see and hear.”
Paul, some 30 years after the resurrection of Christ, says in 1 Corinthians 15:1-6 “Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep.”
How can I become a Christian? Believe in the good news of Jesus!
John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
Ephesians 2:8,9, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith, and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.”
God warned us that there would be false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves (Matthew 7:15). No false religion nor any cult will claim that Jesus Christ died and rose again, proving that He is God, the Father’s Son. Jesus made it clear that being a Christian is not an easy journey. Pain, persecution, sickness, and suffering are what many of us will all face in this world until we, who are saved by grace, are taken up into heaven. Jesus teaches us through His victory on the cross over death; we have nothing to fear.
“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” (James1:2-4).
I went to church for the first time since COVID-19. Yes, everyone wore masks and practiced social distancing. The service began, and to my delight, they were actually singing hymns with only one guitar, one hand drum, and a keyboard. There were no flashing lights, no hysteria, just the delightful sound of people singing praise to their Father. It was about the beauty of the gospel called ‘Living Hope.’
“Who could imagine so great a mercy? What heart could fathom such boundless grace?
The God of ages stepped down from glory, to wear my sin and bear my shame.
The cross has spoken, I am forgiven. The King of kings calls me His own.
Beautiful Savior, I’m Yours forever. Jesus Christ, my living hope.
Hallelujah, praise the One who set me free. Hallelujah, death has lost its grip on me.
You have broken every chain. There’s salvation in Your name. Jesus Christ, my living hope”.
This is the way it is supposed to be!