Thursday, April 18, 2013

Pulling Out All the Stops

When seeking to make a good impression you just may decide to pull out all the stops. This may entail buying a dozen roses for your beloved, taking your boss or a client out to the city’s best restaurant, or deciding to spend your money on that once in a lifetime trip. We place our frugalities on the back burner in order to curry favor in the hope that it will elevate your standing with that person. This saying actually has its roots in the church. Pipe organs, so prevalent in older churches, were equipped with what were called stops that controlled the air flow of the organ, in fact, controlling the volume. Organists would pull out all those stops to finish with a flourish. In our faith journey, pulling out all the stops is not part of our plan.

While we often shower those close to us with gifts and love, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ gets less than our best, often becoming merely an afterthought. The one who gave His life so that we may live is relegated to a place secondary to our selfishness. The one who should be celebrated as King of Kings stands outside patiently waiting for us to allow Him to enter our hearts. The one who lavishes His love upon His children is rewarded with disrespect and indifference from those who owe everything to Him. Why are we so quick to prattle on about our children and then ignore the opportunity to share our faith and give praise to our Lord and Savior? Has our secular society that so looks down upon those that “cling to their Bibles” causing us to be ashamed of our God? Jesus said in Luke 9:26, “Whoever is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.”

As our faith is assailed by the liberal media, academia and even by “progressive” churches such as the ELCA, it is our responsibility to stand up and proclaim His praise unending. Those that stand by and acquiesce to the all-out assault on Christianity are just as much to blame as those who wish to destroy it. While this so-called new progressive and all enlightened generation chastises Christians for being purveyors of the most exclusive of all the world’s religions, nothing could be further from the truth. Christianity is by far the most inclusive religion. After all, Jesus died for all humanity, one needs only believe in the one true Son of God took your sins to the cross, died in your place and rose so that all who believe can live eternally with the Father. Works are not required. Mandatory daily prayer is not required. Attaining enlightenment is not required. Faith in the Risen Christ is the only task required.

It is not important who is “in” or who is “out”. All are in if only they accept that the blood of the Savior cleansed their sin and accept the grace of salvation from the Father. When one accepts the gift of grace, we are filled with joy. When we first believe, we want to share our joy with everyone and bring the world to Christ. As we mature as Christians, it certainly seems that that joy and enthusiasm wanes when it should be just the opposite. As “baby” Christians our immature joyfulness, buoyed by our limited knowledge of Scripture, often would turn off potential believers. As we build up our spiritual armor through hearing and reading His word, we are much better equipped to be a Disciple of Christ, yet we balk when the Holy Spirit offers opportunities to share our faith. It is time to pull out all the stops and start proclaiming His glory, everywhere and to everyone. Every opportunity should be eagerly awaited and prayers made to have the Holy Spirit guide us in advancing His Kingdom. Share your joy!

Yet, the greatest impediment to those thirsting for the Lord is us. Yes, we are all too often the road block that turns potential believers away from God. Our propensity to remain trapped within the law by overemphasizing sin is the greatest obstacle. If engaging in sinful behavior would be  a disqualifier, I’m sorry, but we would all stand condemned. That is why we look to the cross. We are saved not because of what we do, but because of what Christ did for us. We tend to put the cart before the horse and turn off those willing to accept by our self-righteousness. Are believers better than any other child of God? No! We are, in fact, worse if our behavior turns even one of His children away. 1 Peter 2:24-25, “He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.” For “you were like sheep going astray,” but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.” We all were once lost. We all are a fallen humanity. We all fall into disobedience. We all need a Savior and Redeemer. Jesus calls on us to teach the Gospel and to make disciples of the world. That final crescendo is waiting to be played. Will you pull out all the stops, listen to our Lord and work to bring the lost to Him?

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