By Tony Coppola
I find myself spending more and more time lately in awe of the world in which we now live and wondering if Christ could possibly be real to anyone anymore.
I don’t know about you, but I find myself more than often captured away by the turmoils, disruptions, and constant revelations of corruption in and around the world.
Truly, it doesn’t matter which side anyone lands on any social, political, or cultural issue, a healthy dose of angered opposition appears with heavy measures of demonized rhetoric.
The other side, whichever side, are evil dastardly liars with hateful motives.
All sides proclaim righteous superiority with moral obligations to obliterate the enemy no matter what. It’s like a never ending, no holds barred brawl to the death.
Even if we aren’t direct participants in these brawls, it makes me wonder how any one of us could possibly have a personal encounter with Jesus in the midst of all this chaos.
Especially when we get caught up in the ruckuses, siding with our biases, filling our minds with accusations, our hearts with disdain.
Do you ever find yourself doing that? Feeling like a good person in one moment, and then succumbing to the negative emotions of the latest event?
It makes me wonder if any of us has truly heard the gospel of Christ. The historical account of God sending His son from heaven to be persecuted and crucified on the cross, taking all of our sins, our wrong doings, our disgusting and evil thoughts, our natural tendencies to turn away from him in disbelief (even our hatred of him for some of us) upon himself and proclaiming once and for all that we are forgiven of these things.
And not only that, but how he took all of our wrong doings and disbelief and buried them in death, never to be remembered, and rose, alive again, from this death, making a way for us to join Him in this new, eternal life.
Have you? Have we? Have any of us heard this?
One thing is for certain, whomever hears it will never be the same. Whether we reject Christ or whether we receive Him, after encountering the gospel of Christ our life will never be the same.
In the many choices and opportunities we encounter in life, none are as impactful as the one we make after hearing what God has done for us through His son Jesus.
The Bible tells the account of a young, rich and influential person who spoke with Jesus, face to face, about what it would take for him, a self-proclaimed good person, one who has obeyed the commandments, to be accepted into heaven. It says that he walked away sad because he ultimately loved his possessions more than a life of following Jesus.
He asked if he could go to Heaven for being a good person and following the rules. But Jesus said that isn’t what it takes.
He says we must put aside whatever it is separating us from God, which was riches & possessions for the young ruler (as he was described) and choose, instead, to believe the gospel, leave the cares and possessions of world behind, and follow Him.
What about me? What about you? What’s keeping us from believing the gospel and following Christ?
Is it politics or activism we embrace? Are we consumed with the culture wars? Are we to the point where we hate the other side? Do we in our hearts wish they would die a tortured death?
Whichever wrong we are fighting against or side we are on chances are more than certain we think evil of and hatred against people on the other side. Even to the extent of some of us hating our own family.
These are the kinds of hard hearted thoughts & emotions that keep us apart from God.
Instead of hating our enemies, Jesus says to guard our heart by believing on and following the one who was sent to wash away our evil thoughts.
We are to sing praises to the Lord for the free gift of eternal salvation He offers to ALL of US.
It doesn’t matter our culture. It doesn’t matter how poor or how rich we are. It doesn’t matter our IQ. It doesn’t matter our upbringing. It doesn’t matter our sex, sexual orientation, or our gender.
It doesn’t matter our circumstances or our feelings. God doesn’t discriminate one from the other in all who hear the gospel and believe he died for our sins and rose from the dead so that we can have eternal life with Him in heaven.
Worldly equity can’t promise us this. Crushing our opponent won’t win us this prize.
God is the one who created and offers equal treatment, equal outcomes in eternity for those who believe.
Why would we settle for the troubles of the world when we could simply and humbly turn away from all the turmoil, and instead turn towards the God of Love?
And for those of us who angrily say that God isn’t real, or that he is an imaginary daddy in the sky who has never done anything for us, I ask what does a God we reject owe us?
We’ve done nothing for Him. We’ve not put aside our pride or even tried to take down the walls we’ve built to separate ourselves from Him.
The Spirit of Love is whispering the truth in our ear and we swat it away because our hard heart rejects it, like it’s the buzzing of an annoying mosquito.
Our conscience fights itself knowing the bloody thoughts we have of our enemies. We’ve believed the images demonizing others.
It doesn’t have to be that way. We don’t have to live with that pit in our stomach hating both our enemies and denying God. We no longer need to pretend to be a good person on the outside, knowing the truth about ourselves on the inside.
God owes us nothing. Yet He stands eternally ready for us to say, “God help me.”
It’s as easy and simple as that. “God help me.” And in that moment of surrender, God hears us. The hand He has always had stretched out towards us becomes revealed.
Reach out and say, “Forgive me God.” This is what it means to have faith in God. Ask for help. Ask for forgiveness. And then ask Jesus to come into your heart.
Say, “Jesus, I turn from the hatred in my heart and disgusting thoughts I have and ask that you instead would come into my heart and fill me with your love. Fill me with your Holy Spirit.”
Tell me now after hearing this gospel, believing the prayer you prayed is true, that your life won’t be changed. The words might slip ever so easily out of your mouth. But your heart. Your conscience. The whisper of truth and of Love in your ear, in your reborn heart tell you you’re wrong.
Say it. Say, “In Jesus’s name I pray these things.” Don’t be afraid. Don’t be ashamed. Ask again for God to help you. Never stop asking, never stop praying, never stop hearing the truth.
Go now, find a Bible and start by reading the book of John. Read it all the way through. And as you read ask God to help you understand.
Ask Him to make what He says in His word true for you in your life too. Never stop reading, asking for help, and praying in the name of Jesus.
And then set your mind to find a church, a fellowship of people who do the same.
Reject talk of your old ways. Instead, sing praises to the Lord and share your testimony. Tell the story of who you were without Christ and how you are a new person now following Jesus.
So often we hear cries for peace. But included is all of those hateful speeches in how one side is wrong and evil.
But you have a new peace the world doesn’t understand. A peace that doesn’t blame. A peace that freely shares the historical account of what God has done for us through Jesus. And how others too can have the peace and joy of true love.
The kind of Love that wipes away every tear. The kind of love that no longer needs to brawl. The kind of love that is real.