In Consideration

Driving Monica’s little Fiat I was heading to Fairfax from Great Falls, running late, in a hurry, and traveling an unfamiliar road. In the distance I noticed the road narrowed for a small bridge.  On the other side, equidistant to the bridge, a van was headed my way.  At first I thought I might get to the bridge first.  He obviously thought he would.  Neither of us slowed and we crossed the bridge at the same time – his horn blaring all the while.

I thought: “That was a little close” and “why was he honking at me?” and “there ought to be a sign about that bridge.”  Over the course of the next week, I had occasion to drive that road again – twice – and I noticed there was a sign warning about the bridge and another sign on both sides, to “yield.”  Obviously missed them the first go round.

Often, personal conflicts come because both sides forget each has a responsibility to yield.  No one should get their way all the time, or expect to.  Not even being in the right makes being inconsiderate excusable.  Christ’s call to be considerate, give preference to others, and look to the needs of others first will help us to avoid disaster.  Though sometimes being inconsiderate isn’t intentional – just a by-product of being in a hurry, not paying attention, or not thinking – that doesn’t make it excusable.  It may, however, require a horn blast to bring us back to reality.

Be A Door-Keeper!

Soul winner. Evangelist. Missionary. All are terms used to describe those who actively seek the lost to bring them to Christ.

But how about “door-keeper?”

That was Samuel Shoemaker’s term – and I love how he puts it.

“I stand by the door. I neither go too far in, nor stay too far out. The door is the most important door in the world – it is the door through which men walk when they find God. There’s no use in my going way inside, and staying there, when so many are still outside and they, as much as I, crave to know where the door is. And all that so many ever find is only the wall where a door ought to be. They creep along the wall like blind men, with outstretched, groping hands. Feeling for a door, knowing there must be a door, yet they never find it . . . So I stand by the door.

“The most tremendous thing in the world is for people to find that door – the door to God. The most important thing anyone can do is to take hold of one of those blind, groping hands, and put it on the latch – the latch that only clicks and opens to the man’s own touch. Men die outside the door . . . They live on the other side of it – live because they have found it. Nothing else matters compared with helping them find it, and open it, and walk in, and find Him . . . So I stand at the door.”

Door-keeper. When thought of this way, it’s probably the only ministry in the Church everyone can be involved in, and certainly the one all of us should be involved in – helping others to find the way to God.

13 — What We Believe: “Once a Christian always a Christian?”

I read a blog post recently by a minister who no longer believes in God. The amazing thing of course is that he’s still a minister – which doesn’t make a lot of sense but the puzzlement didn’t end there. The reason he wrote was to protest those who keep telling him he is no longer a Christian. In other words, he claims to be an unbeliever and a Christian.

There are basic things one must believe and do in order to become a Christian. There are also basic things one must believe and practice in order to live out the calling of Christ. But let’s be perfectly clear: once one becomes a Christian, regardless of belief or practice, one never ceases to be a Christian, a child of God. One may lose his way, leave the way, lose his heavenly inheritance and bring shame on the family of God by poor behavior, but no matter what, that person remains a child of God.

When talking about essentials of the faith, the really important items are those whose absence cause us to fail at being children of God.

For example: The Corinthian Christians were Paul’s “problem children.” Some were haughty, some immoral, some disruptive. All these things compromised their Christian claim and threatened their eternal inheritance, but it did not change who they were. They were still Christians, God’s holy people.[1] They just weren’t living like God’s holy people, and that was the problem. The sham that was their lives shamed God’s name.

The really big issue is whether a Christian can lose his inheritance in the kingdom of God. It is an inheritance promised by God[2] and can never, on its own perish, spoil, or fade.[3] Like an inheritance in any family however, it can be lost.[4]

But there is something else.

There is not only eternal loss of inheritance awaiting the impenitent. There is the prospect of increased punishment.[5] Why increased punishment? Because we are God’s children, and are responsible for knowing better.

[1] Paul refers to them as the “church of God,” those “sanctified.” The word “sanctified” means to “be made holy.” But Paul goes on to say that these who have been made holy are called to be holy (see 1 Corinthians 1:2). In other words, you’ve got to live up to what God has made of you.

[2] Hebrews 6:12; 9:15

[3] 1 Peter 1:4

[4] 1 Corinthians 6:9-10; Galatians 5:20-21; Ephesians 5:5. The reader should note that Paul, in all of these passages, is not writing about non-christians, but about Christians who engage in these behaviors.

[5] Hebrews 10:26-31 – 26 If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, 27 but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. 28 Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29 How much more severely do you think a man deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God under foot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified him, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace? 30 For we know him who said, “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” and again, “The Lord will judge his people.” 31 It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.