So next Sunday is the day preachers verbalize the Gospel and pray the ‘sinners prayer’ from the platform. And why not? It’s when the CEW&F people come to church . . . you gotta’ hit ‘em when you can, right? As I’ve listened to these passionate appeals over the years, I always hear the same themes . . . “You need to confess your belief in Jesus so you can have eternal life in heaven.” Hard to argue. But a lot of people, (especially young people) don’t really believe they’re going to die. They know it intellectually but they don’t believe it in a way that matters.
Then there’s the question of heaven. So many people have heard passionate, literal descriptions of harps and white robes and streets of gold, but they’re not compelled by the picture nor intrigued by what heaven might be.
Other times, we hear “We’re all sinners in need of a savior.” Absolutely true. But the world, the devil and a lot of churches have created so much doubt and ambiguity about what sin is . . . whether it’s this kind or that kind, whether it’s a ‘sin that leads to death’ and so on, non-believers aren’t too motivated to ‘be washed in the blood.’ It’s to their detriment . . . no doubt. But it’s complicated. First, one has to believe in a Holy God, who cannot be in the presence of sin. Then there’s the concept of blood sacrifice to pay for sin, which seems like a pretty ancient metaphor to super smart 21st century gen Xers and millennials. Many (if not most) people believe in their hearts that God ‘grades on the curve’ . . . if they’re ‘pretty good’ people, they’ll be alright in the end. I have no idea where they found that theology but it’s pervasive.
Finally, my ‘pet peeve’ phrase . . . “Don’t you want to turn your life over to Jesus?” “Isn’t now a good time to surrender your life to God?” Us ‘church people’ (kinda) know what those words mean but those outside the faith probably don’t. I can’t find them in the Bible. In my ‘before Christ’ days, those words translated ‘the end of fun’ and the end of freedom. Nothing could have been further from the truth, but that’s how those words struck me. “Turn my life over” . . . what the heck does that mean?
Why don’t we talk about peace next Sunday? Everyone wants peace in their lives and so few people have it these days. I so want to hear the Gospel presented as the path to peace.
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” -Jesus Christ (in John 16:33)
Think about it. Choose Jesus and you have peace about death and heaven. Choose Jesus and you have peace about decisions and outcomes. Choose Jesus and He’ll give you peace about how to live. Choose Jesus and you’re forgiven . . . free from guilt and shame. You get a ‘do-over’ which brings huge peace to our souls.
If you’re speaking, teaching, preaching or leading a small group over Easter, don’t forget to mention the peace Jesus brought to your life when you came to trust Him.
Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. (Colossians 3:15)
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