True faith in Christ and a changed heart will first be exhibited in the home through the relationships with the people who know us best. As a father of three, Ephesians 6:4 speaks loudest to me, Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in training and instruction of the Lord. As parents we sometimes turn into mini dictators trying to control every aspect of our children’s lives. But here Paul tells us to raise our children through Christ’s instructions. What is good for our lives is also good for our kids. If they do not live through the instruction of the perfect teacher, then we are a poor alternative.
There is no greater brother or sister in Christ than the one who chooses to worship and grow in their relationship with God along side you. In Psalm 122:1, the author David says, I rejoiced with those who said to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord.” When we worship God, it can be a chore or it can be fulfilling and even fun. When we worship in community with others and grow closer to God in the process, we are more likely to find delight in worshipping Him. Ultimately, our attitude towards God will determine our attitude in worshipping Him and how we build community with other believers.
At times, we may think God moves slowly when it comes to answering our prayers. But it is important to remember that God is not on our timeline, nor does He move according to our will. 2 Peter 3:9 says, The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to parish, but everyone to come to repentance. God moves in accordance with His will and timeline to give all of us time to find Him. It may seem as though people are no longer looking for God, but He is not about the numbers. He is simply waiting on all who are willing to believe and come to Him.
Our legacy as believers started in the early days of the Church. I love reading the last sentence in Acts 11:26 where it says, The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch. This is where it all started. People can argue all they want about the genealogy of what happened, but they cannot argue about where we came from. We are Christians because we came from Christ. We should not be ashamed of that designation. But somehow being called a Christian is not acceptable any more and that is sad. I am proud to be called a believer, Christian, follower of Christ, or whatever you want to call me. Christ saved me; all to Him I owe.
Sharing the good news of Christ is not a planned action, it is something we should do whenever the opportunity arises. In Acts 8:35 Philip took the opportunity given to him and shared the Gospel with the Ethiopian, Then Philip began with that very passage of scripture and told him the good news about Jesus. We should not be waiting for the perfect opportunity. There is no right or wrong way to share. It should just be an extension of who God created us to be.
Today we begin the transition from the Gospel of Jesus to the start of the Church. The Church (with a capital “C”) is what we refer to as the body of believers of Christ. This is not a building. It is not comprised of associations or denominations. It is the body of Christ manifest through those who believe in Him and have a desire to serve Him in the light of eternity. While I am not against the congregation of believers in buildings, I do believe we get too caught up in our own idea of what Christianity is supposed to be about. We also get too caught up in defending our individual nuances of the details of our beliefs. In the end, we are called to do two simple things. 1) Love God. 2) Love others. If we can figure out how to accomplish those two simple things, we will be in great shape.
We should never be surprised by how much people want to judge us for following Christ. On more than one occasion I have hear my faith called a “fairy tale”. But in Mark 13:13 Jesus warns us of this, “All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.” Jesus knew people would judge us based on what we believe and who we believe in. But in the end, it will all be worth it. Our faith and our willingness to stand for truth will result in our reward of eternity. It’s not always easy, but it will always be worth it.
When Jesus came to earth, He made it clear that He did not come to judge it, but to bring salvation to those who believed. John 12:47 says, “As for the person who hears my words but does not keep them, I do not judge him. For I did not come to judge the world, but to save it.” Judgement comes from the Father. Jesus came to save by covering all our sin through His sacrifice on the cross. But if Jesus is rejected, then the Father has no choice but to judge those who do not believe by their own merits. Ultimately, the choice is ours.
Much of the time when Jesus spoke he spoke in parables. This was often confusing to everyone around Him including His disciples. When asked why, Jesus replied in Matthew 13:13, This is why I speak to them in parables: “Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand.” Like much of the people of our present day, the people around Jesus heard the truth. They also had knowledge of what was coming from the prophets. We can look at them and wonder why they could not see the truth, but the reality is nothing has changed since the days when Jesus was physically here. We all know the truth and have plenty of examples of the existence of God, yet many choose to simply ignore what they see and hear.
Jesus was very clear in explaining the consequences of ignoring the “Capstone” (the Messiah). By quoting Psalm 118:22, Jesus showed that even their rejection of the Messiah was prophesied in scriptures. In Luke 20:17-18 Jesus said, 17 Jesus looked directly at them and asked, “Then what is the meaning of that which is written: ” ‘The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone’? 18 Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces, but he on whom it falls will be crushed.” Jesus made it clear that rejecting capstone, or cornerstone, was dangerous. A person could trip or be crushed (judged and punished) by doing so. Jesus’ words were veiled, but the religious leaders had no issue interpreting Jesus’ meaning.