Have you ever really thought about all the roadblocks that could have kept you from following Christ?
Here are some of mine:
1. JESUS CONQUERED… my unchurchy upbringing. My parents raised my siblings and me to be people with good character and values. But they didn’t do it with a religious focus.
We did attend church a few times, and I specifically remember getting picked up on a church bus with other neighborhood kids by the Nazarene church when I was about 6. But that’s about it for formal Christian experience.
I think about that Nazarene church, though, and one of my clear memories of attending there is that the Pastor talked to our Sunday school class and asked us each what we wanted to be when we grew up. I don’t remember what I said, or what he said, but I DO remember that he prayed over each one of us, and I think it’s possible that my faith life is what it is today, in part due to that experience. Very interesting.
But Jesus called the children to him and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these".
2. JESUS CONQUERED… denominational weakness. For all of my born-again life, I’ve been a Christian Educator in one form or another. And for many years, I served in a denomination that did not emphasize the importance of accepting Christ.
I heard a great many sermons from a variety of voices and in a myriad of settings, yet a lot of these sermons had very general themes regarding Christ’s sacrifice and human responsibility.
To see the invitation for salvation, I had to interpret and give benefit of the doubt…a lot.
But within the leadership of that denomination, I had heard it said that asking Christ into my life emphasized a works-based mentality regarding salvation. Wrongly, they believed that there is no need to focus on being born again; the only emphasis should be living a GRACE-based life.
Hmm. That was confusing for me. After much prayer, I believed that the Lord kept asking me the question…what if…what if it is true…what if I need to invite Him in and receive Him? What if? So, honestly, I hedged the bet. I asked Him in; I received His work on the cross; I was born-again, and that has made all the difference.
If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved ... For “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
Romans 10: 9-10, and 13 (NLT)
And oh yeah, all this happened AFTER I accepted the job as the Christian Educator.
God works in mysterious ways!
3. JESUS CONQUERED… my own ignorance. I learned to be aware of the sanctifying work of the Spirit in my life through the Bible, but I didn’t always understand how to participate in that work. I just didn’t know how to critically think through some of my challenges. However, I did not stop with my questions. I turned to Bible studies and Christian books to learn the ways of the faithful.
I meet a lot of people who say that they don’t read. What I don’t understand is this - How do you ever learn if you don’t read? I don’t get it.
And even if you don’t like to read, so very many books are available on formats that we can listen to…or do we not like to listen, either? I think we may have discovered the problem.
To learn, to be teachable, we must be humble enough to realize that we don’t know everything.
But God is gracious and has provided the answers and the tender mercies we so often need.
But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
Matthew 6 : 33
How has God pursued YOU despite your circumstances? I’d love to read about it!