Interactive Sermon

"Those who have the disease called Jesus will never be cured" ~Old Russian Proverb

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Just Call Me A Jesus Freak

I've been thinking. Scary, I know. Here’s what I have been thinking.

I am not aware of any place in the Bible where Jesus differentiates between people like we have become accustomed to doing in evangelical Christianity (except in one setting that I’ll come back to in a minute). He never identifies a group of people as being 'saved' or 'unsaved'. Jesus does say that those who believe in Him are not condemned, but those who do not believe in Him are condemned (John 3:18). So, I guess it entered and became common church-speak in the fact that Jesus offers Himself as the Savior – and thus the church would consider the ‘saved’ as those who have chosen to believe in Him as Savior. Many have gone even further, applying labels like 'worldly' and 'secular' to those who haven’t embraced Jesus as Savior. Sadly, some have become absolute about just where that line is, and who falls on which side of it. I think it’s a tragic mistake.

In the Bible, consider Nicodemus. In John’s gospel we’re told he comes to Jesus by night, presumably afraid for people to know he is interested in this “Savior”. Later we see him cautiously speak up on Jesus’ behalf - not what we might call a strong statement, but a big step from the cover of darkness. Then, at the end of the record we find Nicodemus among those coming to claim Jesus’ body. Now this was an unmistakable demonstration of his affection for Jesus. Here’s the question: Where and when did Nicodemus go from unsaved to saved? When did secular morph into sacred? When did he cease to be worldly? And just whose business is it to judge his heart but God’s?

Some in the church have gone so far as to even apply inclusive/exclusive labels based on people agreeing with specific ideals that a church espouses. I have a very good friend who loves Jesus, but votes democrat, is active in liberal politics and has found himself to feel completely ‘other’ when around a bunch of church people. Let me reiterate, he LOVES JESUS! Is he saved or unsaved? Secular? Worldly?

Now, back to the one setting in which Jesus differentiates between people. You'll see it everywhere He runs across people who believe themselves to be pious. In those instances He differentiates between the ‘religious’ and the ‘lost’ – and you’ll note He loves the lost, and reserves His wrath for the religious. It’s the homes of the lost that he frequents for supper. It’s the religious He calls vipers and hypocrites. It’s the lost he gathered around Himself. It’s the religious that He proclaims ‘woes’ upon. So I conclude, I want to be numbered among the lost – not the religious! If I’ve moved from unsaved to saved it’s because His grace is truly amazing (and in my life I know that to be the case!).

What do you think?

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