Friday, April 05, 2013

The Greatest Story Ever Told--Are We Telling It?

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The Christian faith is the greatest story ever told. Our story is a story of love and forgiveness, a story of personal struggles--a story of triumph and one of tragedy.

It is a story of sin and righteous and a story obedience.

But most of all it is a story of redemption.

It is a story of how God loved people when they did not love Him. And how He continues to love people who do not love Him.

It's an amazing story of amazing grace.

Hollywood is recognizing how powerful this story is as upward of a hundred million people have already watched "The Bible" series that just finished airing on the History Channel.

And this morning, the world is fascinated by an archaeological discovery which appears to be the biblical city of Ur.

But are we telling our own story in an honest and complete way?

The Hollywood Reporter recognizes the power of our story.

In an article titled, "From 'The Bible' to the Amish, Why Religion Is Hot On Cable" recognizes what the church too often fails to get.

Rob Sharenow, vice-president at Lifetime Networks, the parent company of the History Channel which recently ran "The Bible" says, "Great stories draw great audiences, and having faith based or religious elements is something people are drawn to."

It's estimated that upwards of 100 million people have already seen all or part of "The Bible" series.

People are looking for truth. Pilate asked, "What is truth?" and I firmly believe the public as a whole are also looking for truth and meaning and purpose in their lives, even as they rebel against God.

It is being reported this morning that archaeologists have likely found the biblical site of Ur. Abraham's Ur.

Christianity has the greatest story ever told. It is the story of redemption and a love so powerful that God will redeem us regardless of how broken and sinful our life has become.

But are we compromising God's story of redemption by not identifying that from which we are redeemed?

But how can we know we need a savior if there is no recognition of sin? How can people respond to a message of redemption, if there is no understanding from what they are to be redeemed?

The value of Christ's message that He came to give us life abundantly is devalued, if we have no understanding of abundance. His message of freedom and restoration is devalued when a person has no sense of the bondage and brokenness of sin.

Compromise may killing us. And it's withholding the truth from those who most need the whole story of the gospel.

We want to be liked. We want to be accepted. We want people to join us---become a part of our church, but we are unwilling to define the sin from which we are redeemed. The bondage from which we are released, because it might offend.

We abandon biblical teaching to conform to the world, so we can identify with the world, thinking they will somehow assimilate the whole gospel without it being fully declared.

In our quest to be accepted, we so identify with the world that they see no definable difference.

Yet, if we live our lives according to biblical teaching, even in silence, the world will not embrace us. Jesus told us why. He said, "If you belonged to the world it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you." Read John 15: 18-25. In verse 25, Jesus makes reference to the prophetic statement in Psalms 69:4, saying, "They even hated me without a cause."

"Casting Crowns" is a popular Christian music group who have produced a number of hit Christian songs. Christian radio stations and others play their music. They are good people and their songs are generally biblically based, however, one song in particular reflects my point.

Their song, "Jesus Friend of Sinners," says in one of the lyrics, "Nobody knows what we're for--only what we're against when we judge the wounded. What if we put down our signs crossed the lines and loved like you [Jesus] did?"

The song also has this lyric, "The world is on its way to you, but they're tripping over me," meaning that our identifying sin is a stumbling block to redemption. However, that's not at all what Jesus taught. He said we can never become enough like the world to be accepted by the world.

And the world is looking for truth, but they are not "on their way to Jesus." Even as his cross was a stumbling block to those of the world in the first century, it continues to be today. Eternal life through his death and resurrection is not the truth they seek, nor do they seek absolute truth.

The gospel message must identify sin as it proclaims redemption and healing and deliverance. This is how the Holy Spirit draws people to salvation.

Compromise draws no one.

The world is neither on its way to Christ, nor is it willing to allow a compromise between Christians and the world.

Look at the homosexual issue which dominates the culture today. If you affirm publicly that you believe marriage is between one man and one woman, you are a bigot. Worse, if you say homosexual behavior is, according to the Bible, sin, you are accused of hating the person and condemning them to hell.

If you oppose abortion, you are labeled anti-woman.

Christians are instructed to love their neighbors, but loving one's neighbor does not mean compromising to the point of affirming their behavior.

The world will not accept anything less than fully affirming and even embracing their behavior. Short of that, one is labeled as hateful and bigoted.

Affirming sin has never led anyone to the Truth of God's love.

We can and must identify sin, while we major in the message of redemption.

To be silent on issues that destroy an individual and a culture is sin. It is the sin of silence.
Proverbs 25:26 tells us that, "A righteous man who falters before the wicked, is like a murky spring and a polluted well."

A church or Christian who pridefully refuses to stand for biblical teaching in a dying, morally confused world, particularly in the name of love, is polluting the living water of life itself, denying the truth to those who desperately need it.

Compromise is polluting the water and it's killing us and those who are thirsty.

Be Vigilant . Be Discerning. Be Prayerful. Be Active. Be Blessed.