Sunday, October 25, 2009

Behind the Velvet Rope

"I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." John 14:16 (NIV)

Have you noticed these days how important the word “exclusive” has become? We want to be part of exclusive groups, live in exclusive gated communities, and go to exclusive Ivy League schools. We put unborn children on the waiting list at exclusive daycares, drive exclusive automobiles, and on and on. People stand in line at exclusive clubs to get in to party with the rich and famous and to see and be seen. Everyone wants exclusivity in their lives until it comes to spirituality. We like our religion with a little less exclusivity and a little more leniency. No one wants “old fashioned authority, guilt trips, accountability, or moral absolutes” (MacArthur).

Christians are cursed for claiming that Christ is the exclusive way to Heaven. Yet Jesus himself says “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:16). He also says “for I did not come to judge the world, but to save it” (John 11:47). Christ died for our sins that we may freely receive his grace and compassion. We are not worthy to enter into the presence of our Almighty God if it were not for the saving grace of Christ. So our “exclusive” religion is open to all. Christ is standing at the velvet rope of salvation to enter into eternity. All we must do is accept him and trust him and then he will open the narrow gate for us. What makes Christianity so exclusive is that so few people actually accept Jesus, not that He is unwilling to accept us. Jesus said “I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am the one I claim to be, you will indeed die in your sins” (John 8:26).

Once we accept Christ as our Lord and Savior, we become sanctified, or “set apart” in our lives. God takes us into a group that becomes “exclusively” His. Paul writes in Romans “through Him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God” (5:2). And Acts 20 says “now I commit you to God and to the word of his grace, which can build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified” (32). Our reward and inheritance is God and eternal life through Jesus. We become exclusively His.

Friday, October 9, 2009

The Lord of the Harvest

“The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” Matthew 9:37-38 (NIV)

I just love the Fall Season. It is perhaps the best season of all, and I am so glad when it finally comes around every year. It brings with it fond memories of school days, football, homecomings, cool weather, and magnificent clear blue skies and autumn leaves in every hue. It also ushers in Halloween and Thanksgiving with pumpkins and cornucopias full of harvest fruits and vegetables. Harvest is a wondrous time of reaping the bounty of what we have sown.
There is also a bounty that God has sown. Jesus tells his disciples that “the harvest is plentiful but the workers are few” in Matthew. Imagine fields full of ripe fruits and vegetables just rotting and wasting away because there is no one willing to pick them. That is the analogy that Jesus uses for the people of this world. He came to die for the sins of every person so that we might all be saved and harvested from our sins and eternal damnation. But those of us who are saved by this knowledge will not go out and share in the harvest. Jesus says “even now the reaper draws his wages, even now he harvests the crop for eternal life, so that the sower and the reaper may be glad together. Thus the saying ‘one sows and another reaps is true’” (John 4:36-37). We are not picking the fruit from the vines that God has sown.

Paul writes to the Galatians “let us not become wearing in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up” (6:9). We should be filled with excitement to work in the fields for Our Father in Heaven. He has planted a great harvest which we are joyous to help reap. May we not grow weary but be ever knowing that God is good and He wants everyone to come unto Him so that we may increase our inheritance in His kingdom forever. As David writes, so we should also believe “the boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance” (Psalm 16:8).