Laser Focus During Challenging Times

In Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith. Galatians 3:26 NIV

It’s already been a challenging week. It’s Monday. Bouden the Brave lost his fight against cancer today. He was the 10 month old son of a neighbor. Our subdivision tied red ribbons around our parkway trees to honor him. A young, vibrant twenty-something husband, father of two beautiful daughters died today from a heroin overdose. I will officiate at a funeral tomorrow of a woman who died from complications of COPD just one month short of her 55th wedding anniversary. Friends, I believe we can all have weeks like this. Life can be overwhelming and it can feel like an avalanche of bad, terrible or challenging things will come pounding down to overtake us. 

We who are in the church have a responsibility to believe, live and share the message of Jesus Christ. It is the only message that can bring hope to the hopeless world and establish a sense of purpose and meaning to the experiences we all will face from time to time in this life. As a pastor, I am committed to come alongside those who are suffering. I took an oath to uphold the gospel of Jesus Christ. I preach,teach, admonish when necessary and equip others to serve Christ with their whole heart. It is my privilege to challenge Christ followers. We cannot become satisfied with merely sitting by watching people stumble through life without direction or understanding the love of God. He who created the Universe loves them so much he would go to the lengths of putting himself through the grueling ordeal of human death so that we might live the perfected life of eternity with Him. This role is not limited to clergy. It’s a divine mandate to all who believe. 

There is no other gospel that can save us from our sin. The gospel saves us from ourselves. It removes any human endeavor to mess it up and remains the truth for all time. We can do nothing to save ourselves. Salvation is a gift from God. Through the miracle of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, I become a daughter of God and share in his inheritance. I am numbered among those who were chosen from birth to capture the hearts and minds of lost people with the love of Jesus Christ.

The temptation to believe some other gospel seeped into the early church the same way it tries to seep into the present day church. Humans are by nature ‘earners.’ We are tempted to believe we must earn our salvation by doing something. There are lots of reasons why we do this. Perhaps it is the internal  complicit guilt we all share or the desire for control we seem to love more than the truth. Maybe it’s because we secretly believe we’re somehow better than those who suffer.

But, imagine what could happen if the Followers of Jesus Christ worked to fulfill all Jesus commanded us to do. Imagine the love of God enveloping Bouden’s heartbroken parents. For just a few moments, allow the love of God to saturate your heart and consider the hearts of the confused family and friends of heroin users. Remember that each and every one of us will stand at a graveside and bury someone we love. What we believe has eternal significance. The gospel is never more real than when we face the truth.  

But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. Ephesians 2:4-5 NIV