“He has now reconciled you … in order to present you before God, holy and blameless and beyond reproach.” (Colossians 1:22 New American Standard Bible)
We live in a product-oriented world where the packaging and marketing of a product, many times, determines whether the product is successful or not in sales. Something is always “new and improved” or “better than ever” or the next “version” of the previous product and because of the way it is presented, we decide if we need it or not. I mean, who doesn’t want the latest version or the latest release of a particular product, right? I wonder if that new marketing hasn’t slid into the church today too? It seems that we try to “sell” a slick, shrink-wrapped version of salvation that includes happiness here and now and Heaven in the sweet by and by.
We “dip ’em and drop ’em” and fail to share the “responsibility” side of salvation. Or maybe we do try to explain what is required of a new Christian but people prefer to live the way they want to, even after they have been saved. I’m really not sure which one it is. I do know this: after reading and studying my Bible for over 40 years now, I see nowhere in the Scriptures where Jesus told anyone to continue living like they were before they met Him. Always, Jesus would bring them to a better standing with God and then tell them to “Go, and sin no more.”
Let’s bring that into today’s world for a moment. When I got saved, I quit smoking and I quit drinking. I used to smoke three packs of cigarettes a day and the day I got saved I poured out about $600 worth of alcohol. In today’s money that is a lot of booze. But I realized that when Jesus saved me, I no longer belonged to myself — as Paul put it, I had been bought with a price (the death of Jesus for the atonement of my sins) and now, I no longer belonged to myself, I belonged to God. God is very plain when He says we belong to Him, what He expects of us. As Colossians says, we are to be “holy, blameless and beyond reproach.”
How do you measure up to those four words: “holy, blameless and beyond reproach?” Are you a pretty good example of Jesus in this world or would someone point to you and say “If that is what a Christian is all about, I’m just as good as they are.” (I hope no one ever says that about me.) I don’t want to have someone point a finger at me and say, “I saw Pastor Thad at Hollywood Casino Friday night” or “I saw Pastor Thad at Urban Cowboy on Saturday night and now he’s standing behind the pulpit on Sunday morning telling me how to live?” If you think about that, it would be the definition of hypocrite, wouldn’t it?
Do you really believe that Jesus approves of a “Christian” going to a bar and acting like the world does? Or going to an X-rated movie? Do you think Jesus would approve of that? Do you think that Jesus would want to go there? Well, guess what? If you are a blood-bought child of the living God and the Holy Spirit of God lives within you, every time you go to a bar, or go to a Casino or go to an X-rated movie, you take Jesus right along with you. How? The Holy Spirit of God lives within you and your body is His temple and He goes where you go.
Now … do you really think a Christian should go to those places? Let me take it one step further, if you will. Do you think a person who continually goes to those places has really been saved to begin with? I know my “want to’s” changed after I got saved. But I see many people, professing to be believers, having supposedly been saved, still going to the places the world goes to. I see them lay out of church Sunday after Sunday. I see them putting “other god’s” before the one, true and living God. (Entertainment, sports, washing their cars, mowing the lawn, going boating, water skiing, snow skiing, etc.) Why can’t the car be washed after church? Why can’t the lawn be mowed after church? Why can’t you go to the beach after church? Why can’t your kids not play sports on Sunday or play after church? I bet if all parents of kids who play sports were to take a stand and tell the coach your child wasn’t playing sports until after church, things would turn around. You should try it once. Take a stand for God and let your coach know that your child will play sports but not until they have gone to Sunday school and church.
My question for you to think about this week is simply: “Are you living for God or are you living for yourself?” Only you can answer that question but God knows the real answer.
And that is Something to Think About for this week.
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Pastor Thad Gifford is the founding and lead pastor of the Crossroads Community Church, 62 E. Second St., London. He can be reached at 740-852-7800, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org, www.3C-Church.org or visit the church’s Facebook page at Crossroadslondon.