Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "It Is Well With My Soul"1 (Lyrics)
Last summer, many parts of North America were plagued by wildfires. One of my friends was personally affected. Although his hay was burnt, his home was spared, but at the back of his property, a neighbour's ranch with cabins for tourist lodgings was completely burnt. All the buildings — and the owner's livelihood — were gone.
For several weeks, we endured the thin veil of smoke that drifted to our area. It was not enough to cause breathing problems or force us to evacuate. But after the smoke was gone, I took our vehicle for an oil change. The mechanic brought out the cabin air filter to show me: it was plugged black with soot!
Since then, I have reflected on how much like sin that smoke was. Not thick enough to cause much immediate trouble, nevertheless, its cumulative effects were shocking. In the same way, attitudes and activities that once were disreputable have now been given new names and are generally acceptable, even "politically correct", and are causing great confusion and controversy. Whatever happened to sin?
Since the middle of the twentieth century, much of mainline Protestantism has concentrated on the positive aspects of the Christian faith, putting less emphasis on sin and the negatives of Christianity. In our churches, we hear much about how God loves us all. Jesus accepted everybody just the way they were, they say. And since Jesus told us not to judge, we shouldn't make people feel bad by pointing out their flaws and failings. The trouble with this reasoning is that although it is true that Jesus kept company with unscrupulous tax collectors and sinners, and that He did accept everyone the way they were, He didn't leave them that way. He forgave the sins of the paralytic man and the woman caught in adultery and told her to "go and sin no more".
Matthew 4:17 – From that time Jesus began to preach and to say, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." (NKJV)
"Repent" is like the military command "About face!" — to go in the opposite direction. Jesus believed in pointing out sin and calling people to repentance. After all, Jesus was born to save us from our sins, not to let us sit and stew in our guilt.
1 John 2:2 – And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world. (NKJV)
Although we won't win any popularity contests, God calls us to be faithful to the message of salvation for which Jesus died. If there had been any easier way to bring us forgiveness, He would have taken it. God grant us the courage and perseverance to take the risks and proclaim the truth, that by all possible means, some might be saved.
Prayer: Lord, sometimes, it seems as if, in the present social climate, Your message of repentance and forgiveness for sin could be lost. By Your Holy Spirit, give us the same gift of boldness that You gave to the early apostles, when from a minority position of just a few thousand faithful souls, You transformed the world. May it be so again! In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen.