Monday, August 5, 2013

Whoever Believes

There are plenty of barriers in life that prevent us from being who we need to be and doing what we need to do, but there is only one barrier that separates us from God; sin. The original sin was an act of rebellion and every form of sin that followed comes from that same root. It is saying to God, "I don't care what you have to say, I'm going to do what I want to do."

Unfortunately sin leads to death. It is what God said at the beginning and it remains true today. It is not a matter of God being an unloving God. If you speed on the highway you will get a ticket. Is it the fault of the judge or the police officer? Of course not; it is our fault for speeding. 

However, just because sin is a barrier for us to get to God does not mean he is unable to get to us. In fact, he paid a tremendous price to reach out to us in our rebellion. The Word of God states that while we were still sinners Jesus died for us. We were not required to change anything for God to reach out to us with the offer of salvation. Jesus also demonstrated this fact while walking this planet.

Going back to the woman at the well, Jesus knew exactly who she was and what she had done. He knew her current state of sin. When she put on airs about wanting to accept his gift of "free water" Jesus went right to the heart of the problem:

"You are right when you say you have no husband. The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true." (John 4:17-18)

This sexually immoral woman stood there and heard the accusation of God against her but God did not run away from her. He was there to offer her the free gift of life. He will never leave anything hidden. He wants all barriers removed.

Often we get it wrong. We try so hard to convince people of their sin that we erect even greater barriers. We make it so that God can't reach those he died to love. Are we crazy? We need to do what Jesus did and make it clear that sin is sin but we don't need to concentrate on the sin. We should never allow sin to become a barrier for us reaching out to those for whom Jesus died. Remember, it was Jesus who sought out this woman, the woman did not come looking for him. And it is the job of the Spirit to convict, it isn't ours to convince.

If we are really determined to reach people for Jesus then we must be willing to stand in the filth of this world and embrace those who are lost. We need to present the other choice they have. After all, it is a choice. We can choose to turn our back on our sinful nature, have Jesus separate us from it, and learn to live in the love of Jesus. We can't run from this world because we have been sent into it. We do not embrace the sin because the sin is disgusting but we embrace the sinner in the same way Jesus did, making opportunity for reconciliation with God.

The current idea of the Church is to call evil good and good evil in order to include the sinner. But how has the condition of the sinner, the rebellious one, the one separated from God, changed? It hasn't. No, we need to stand in the holiness of God while reaching out in love to those who are still enslaved to sin. And let the Holy Spirit work it. He will reveal things to you so you will know how to approach each person. Jesus never dealt with people in the same manner but dealt with them as individuals. No formulas or methods, just Spirit direction.

There are no barriers that can keep the love of God out which means there are no barriers that can keep you out. So don't you go building any of your own. The love of God and the good news of the gospels are for everyone. It belongs to whoever believes.

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