From Darkest Night to Brightest Morn

“Without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness.” (Hebrews 9:22). The greatest problem in all the Bible is how can God be just and righteous and still forgive sin? God cannot simply pardon us and still be righteous. That would make him corrupt. He is holy and cannot allow sin into his presence. Sin demands punishment, for the “wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). Because we all have sinned (Romans 3:23), we all deserve God’s judgment for that sin.

How, then, can God love if all humans must die? There had to be an answer to satisfy God’s love without compromising his holiness and justice. A life was necessary, and the life is in the blood; for “it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul” (Leviticus 17:11).

Beginning with the first animal sacrifice to make clothing for Adam and Eve, to the ram caught in the thicket that took Isaac’s place on the altar, to the Passover lamb of Exodus, the Old Testament teaches the concept of substitutionary atonement, that an innocent die for the guilty.

When John the baptizer saw Jesus walking near the Jordan, he said, “Behold the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). John knew that one day, Christ would be that Lamb foreshadowed by the sacrificial system. At the first Passover while the Israelites still lived in Egypt, every house slaughtered a year-old lamb without defect, spot, or blemish and placed some of its blood on the sides and tops of the door frame. The when the angel came to slay the first born, he saw the blood and passed over the house leaving the first-born son alive. Again, an innocent lamb died to spare the life of the son.

The Last Supper took place at Passover. After finishing the Passover meal, Jesus took bread and wine and established the Last Supper to be a memorial of the sacrifice he was about to make. Later that night he was taken captive and forced to stand trial. The next morning, He was beaten and whipped. Then the soldiers forced him to carry his cross to the place of the skull. Having forced a crown of thorns upon his head, they drove spikes into his hands and feet. He struggled on the cross for six hours while God turned his back on him. There in utter darkness, Christ bore your sin and mine, and paid the ultimate price for the wages of sin. He became the Passover Lamb.

Two other men were crucified with Christ that day, but another man often forgotten in the Easter story is Barabbas. Mark 17:7 described him as a murderer and a rebel. Surely, he was guilty. Matthew 27:16 called him a notorious criminal. The crowd that day, however, demanded his release and Jesus’ execution. Christ carried Barabbas’ cross to Calvary that day. Again, the Innocent died in the place of the guilty.

That is how God can be holy and just and punish sin, and still be loving and offer forgiveness to all who repent and believe in Jesus. How do we know God accepted that sacrifice? Once Christ was taken down from the cross, his body was placed in a tomb. The Jews demanded that the stone that covered the tomb be sealed so that no one would steal the body of Christ and claim he had risen from the dead. Even they knew that Christ had said he would rise from the dead.

That was the darkest moment in human history. The Son of God who had promised to establish the kingdom of God was now dead and buried. The Sabbath passed and Christ remained in the tomb. The next day as some women went to the tomb, they wondered who would move the stone away. Even they did not believe Jesus when he said he would rise again on the third day (Matthew 16:21 and others).

Matthew 28 gives the account of the women on their way to the tomb as dawn was breaking. They experienced a great earthquake as the angel came down to move the stone away. Verse 3 said the angel’s face was like lightning and his clothing was white as snow. That terrible darkness caused by the crucifixion now gave way to the brightest day. God had accepted Christ’s sacrifice and he came out of that tomb alive! The angel told them that Christ they were seeking was alive.

That is the gospel story of Easter. Paul wrote: “Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time” (1 Cor. 15:3-6). Christ’s death did not take God by surprise. He had foretold it in the scriptures and through the sacrificial system.

The writer of Hebrews states: “There remaineth no more sacrifice for sins” (Hebrews 10:26). God no longer expects animal sacrifices. They never washed away sin anyway. Only Christ’s death could do that. Paul also preached in Athens, “Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.” (Acts 17:30-31). There is no sacrifice you can make except “the sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, A broken and a contrite heart” (Psalm 51:17).

When each of us stands before God in judgment, we will not be compared to others. We will be compared to Christ. Compared to others I may think I do fairly well; but compared to Christ, I fall way short. All I can do is repent and call upon him to have mercy on me and save me.

How will you do? Will you measure up compared to Christ? Or will you accept Christ’s substitutionary atonement for your soul?

 

 

 

 

Brave New Worlds?

 

Driving to work early one morning, I approached an intersection. The vehicle facing me in the other lane had stopped at the red light, and its lights were shining in my direction. As I moved toward it, I noticed someone walking in front of the headlights.

Judging by what I saw, it could have been a Hispanic man. He might have weighed between 200 and 225 pounds. He was probably five feet away from the bumper of the car and moving in a westward to eastwardly direction at approximately three miles per hour. His hair may have been black and it could have been parted on the left side. He may have been going to work that morning, and maybe he worked for some oilfield service company.

He could have been wearing a maroon shirt that may have been recently washed with an aromatic detergent. He could have had a pocket knife in his right-hand pocket. He might have spoken English, and might have had a Spanish accent, and he might have been from Mexico. He could have had a tattoo between his shoulder blades which might have been in the shape of an eagle. He also could have had a pierced ear.

You may be asking yourself, “How can you tell all that from a person walking in front of the headlights of a car?” You know there is not enough information to make such determinations simply by passing in front of a light. Did you notice how many times I used the terms could have, might have, and may have? Did you notice that I left a way out each time? I didn’t say that he was Hispanic; I said he could been a Hispanic man. I didn’t say he had black hair parted on the left side. I said he may have had black hair parted on the left side.

Again this week NASA has announced the discovery of seven new exoplanets (http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/science/astronomers-find-7-earth-size-planets-where-life-may-be-possible/ar-AAne8q7), that is, supposedly earthlike planets outside our own solar system. The title of the article states that astronomers have found seven earthlike planets where “life is possible.” How do they know if life is possible? How did they determine that? As you read through the article, and listen to the video narration, you will notice how many times they use the words could, might, and may.

Three of the planets, they say, are within the life zone that may support life. They say that one may have an atmosphere that could contain water vapor that might mean there is water on the surface of the planet. And how did they determine all this? They looked at a star forty light years away and noticed a diminished amount of light coming from the star. That can only mean one thing, a planet passing in front of it. All the rest is speculation, just like my story about the person I saw passing in front of the headlights of a car.

If it is all such speculation, why are scientists so determined to find life on other planets? It is not a scientific question, but a philosophical question. They are so convinced that evolution is true, and therefore, life must have evolved on one of the many “earth-like” planets out there. They believe that finding life on other planets would justify their belief in evolution. However, even finding life on another planet would not prove that evolution is true. Evolution has too many scientific problems to be true, and it is not supported by observable, empirical science. It just “has to be” because the alternative is untenable. They will never be dissuaded despite the lack of evidence to support evolution.

If the planets are forty light years away, it would take that long just to send a signal and another 40 years to receive a response. Traveling at the speed of light, it would take forty years to get there. Even travelling at ten times the speed of light would require four years to travel even if a ship could travel that fast. Stars would never go zipping by in the background as they do in science fiction movies such as Star Wars. All this is designed to tell us that we got here merely by processes that can be explained naturally. Again, these are not scientific issues, but philosophical. It is a reason to explain the existence of everything without believing in a Creator God.

What would scientists expect to find in space? Paul wrote, “The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.” Finding life on another planet is an excuse to accept evolution and disbelieve God’s Word.

What should we find in the heavens? “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge. They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them. Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world” (Psalm 19:1-4). Rather than trying to find alien life in the heavens to disprove God, we should look to the heavens and see His glory. There is no excuse not to believe in God. Through Christ, you can have a relationship with the Creator God of this universe. Apart from him, you will only be searching through the darkness.

 

A Different Gospel

 

Jesus warned us that in the last days false christs and prophets would come and deceive many, even the elect, if possible (Matthew 24:24). Deception has always been Satan’s ruse. Sin entered the world because Satan deceived Eve, and he has never stopped using the same tactic. He still deceives today.

Since Christ said that false Christs and false prophets would arise, it was inevitable that false gospels would arise, too. Satan never creates; he only counterfeits. Counterfeits look like the genuine object or they would never deceive. That is why they are so dangerous.

Paul warned the Corinthians about receiving a different Christ and a different gospel (2 Corinthians 11:3-4). Someone may say that anyone who loves and follows Christ is a Christian. Well, which Christ? Not all are the same. To some he is just a man. To others he is one of many great prophets. To still others, he is one of many of God’s sons and the brother of Satan. How would you recognize the true Christ?

Then there are the false gospels. Some gospels say that salvation is by your works. Your good deeds outweigh your bad deeds so you go to heaven. There is the gospel that says that you have to add to Christ’s work on the cross by adding ceremonies, rituals and sacraments. Finally, there is the watered-down gospel that says all you have to do is pray a simple prayer like, “God I believe that you love me and want to save me. I ask you to forgive me and come into my heart.” Then you will receive God’s favor and blessing that will lead to health and material prosperity.

But Christ’s true gospel demands more. Luke quotes Jesus as saying, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily  and follow Me” (9:23). He also said, “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple” (Luke 14:26-27). That gospel is tough to swallow. Many people are not willing to take up their cross because that means they may have to suffer for the cause of Christ. That gospel does not attract large crowds. Jesus even said that few would enter the narrow way that leads to eternal life (Matthew 7:14).

People will put up with a gospel that promises wealth and ease, but balk at the gospel that demands death to self and service to others. It is not popular, and it does not fill pews and offering plates.

The oft – quoted “sinner’s prayer” found in the back of many gospel tracts and booklets does not exist. The sinner’s prayer in the Bible is found in Luke 18:13. A poor tax collector could not even look up to heaven, but he cried out, “Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner.” He did not try to justify or excuse his sin. He did not try to compare himself to others as the Pharisee in the story did. He simply admitted his need by crying out to God. Jesus said that man went home justified, not the other, the religious man.

Sit down and count the cost of believing the true gospel (Luke 14:28). In the same way counterfeit money will be of no service at a bank, a counterfeit gospel will not get you into heaven. Have you accepted another gospel? The true gospel is simple, but it is not easy. It is not popular. It is not politically correct. It is not all-inclusive. It is not tolerant of sin, but it is the only gospel that leads to salvation. What will it cost you to follow Christ?

 

Living the Christian Life

 

One of the misconceptions about eternal life and going to heaven is the belief that somehow, when a person is judged, their good deeds will outweigh their bad deeds. Many believe that one day God will open the books and look at all the things we have done. He will place all the bad deeds on one side of a balance and all our good deeds on the other side. If the good outweighs the bad, we feel as though we deserve to go to heaven.

When I have talked to people about their need to repent of their sins and place their faith in Christ, I often get the response, “I will just try to live the Christian life to make up for it.”

Dennis Rader was an active member and the president of the church council in a local church of his city, and was a Boy Scout Troop leader upon his arrest in February, 2005. Church members were shocked to discover that this man they had known for years was also known as the BTK killer. Between 1974 and 1991, Rader bound, tortured, and killed ten victims, some multiple members of a family. No one knows why he ended his murderous spree in 1991.

In the years following his crimes, he became an active church member and leader. He began to live the Christian life. For fourteen years, he became a Christian example. Surely during those fourteen years after the murders, he did many good deeds.

On June 27, 2005, he pled guilty to all the charges. During the trial he gave many horrifying details about the crimes he had committed. Today he is serving 10 life sentences in a Kansas prison. What if the judge treated his case the way many people feel that God, the most Righteous Judge, will treat their cases? What if Rader had told the judge, “Your Honor, I know that the jury has found me guilty of torturing and killing all those innocent people, but look at all the years I didn’t kill. Look at all the good work I did as a Scout leader. Look at the way I have lived a committed Christian life and served at church”? Then, what if the judge said, “You’re right. I can see how you performed more good deeds than the ten murders you committed, so I am going to pardon you”? We would think that is a miscarriage of justice. We would be outraged.

You may be thinking to yourself, “I am not that bad. I have never murdered anyone.” Haven’t you? First John 3:15 says, “Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.” Have you ever hated a brother or a sister? Then you have committed murder. What about adultery? Have you ever lusted for someone? Then you have committed adultery. The truth is that we have committed more sins than we probably even realize.

So why didn’t the judge let the BTK killer go after living the Christian life for fourteen years after the murders? Think of all the boys’ lives he had affected as a Scout leader. Think of all the people whom he didn’t murder by serving as president of the church council. Living the Christian life does not atone for the sins already committed. No matter how you live after sin, it does not make up for the sin you committed.

If a police officer catches you running a stop sign and you ask, “What if I promise never to do it again? What if I stop ten more times to make up for the time I didn’t stop?” Will that get you out of the ticket? No, you have broken the law and you must pay the penalty. When it comes to sin, we have all broken the law, and not just one or two of them. James 2:10 says, “For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.” We are guilty of breaking all of God’s laws, even murder. God is just and must punish sin. Isaiah 53:6 says, “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.”

Jesus died on the cross to pay the penalty for our sin. God doesn’t simply forgive our sins because he loves us. That would be unjust. Someone has to pay for our sin. Either we pay the penalty ourselves, for the wages of sin is death (Rom. 6:23), or we accept Christ’s atoning death in our place. There is no other way to satisfy both the love and righteousness of God. Your living the Christian life won’t do it.

First, repent of your sin. The only hope is to “put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts” (Romans 13:14). After you have done that, you begin to live the Christian life because you are Christian. Living the Christian life will never save you. You can only live the Christian life once you are saved.

 

 

Right For You?

Listening to ads on the radio or seeing them on television, you will hear the repeated phrase, “right for you.” When you see an ad for medication, it tells you to ask your doctor if that medicine is “right for you.” Another one involving eye surgery encourages you to ask your doctor if such eye surgery is “right for you.” It is not about just medical issues as well. There is a luxury car company that encourages you to ask if owning such a luxury car is “right for you.”

The underlying philosophy is that you are unique, different from everyone else. Somehow what may be good for others is just not right for you. This caters to our individual pride. Some may say, “That may be right for you, but it is not right for me.” Or it may be true for you, but not true for me as though truth changes for different people.

While it is true that people react differently to medications and medical procedures, there is a limit to this philosophy. You usually hear it referring to morality or truth. We live in an age of moral relativism. (That’s YOUR truth, but it’s not MY truth). That means a moral choice that you make may be right for you, but it is not right for everybody, so you should not try to impose your truth or your morality on anyone else. Critics of morality say that the concept of absolute morality is impractical. How can a moral decision be right for everybody? So, if I want to live my life as a moral reprobate, who can judge me? Morality may be right for you, but it is not right for me. I will choose to go another path.

Now apply that reasoning to physics. Remember, there are no absolutes. Michael Edwards wrote Gravity: True for You, But Not for Me. The tongue-in-cheek title points out the futility of applying relativism to gravity. The cover of the book shows someone jumping off a cliff while a group of others looks on. (https://www.amazon.com/Gravity-True-You-But-Not-ebook/dp/B006XG0ID4/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1480565212&sr=1-1&keywords=gravity+true+for+you+but+not+for+me)

Imagine saying to someone that you believe gravity is true for some people, but that it cannot be universally applied to all people. At that point, you step off a cliff. No matter what you believe, you will experience the results of defying the law of gravity. You will come crashing down on the consequences of your beliefs. Edwards quotes Paul Copan, “‘Truth is true— even if no one knows it. Truth is true— even if no one admits it. Truth is true— even if no one agrees what it is. Truth is true— even if no one follows it. Truth is true— even if no one but God grasps it fully.’ Paul Copan, Chair of Philosophy and Ethics at Palm Beach Atlantic University, author, True For You But Not For Me.” (Edwards, Michael. Gravity True For You But Not For Me (Kindle Locations 83-86). Kindle Edition.)

Liberal theology might say that they believe in God, but they do not accept what the Bible says about moral issues. After all, we must be on the “right side of History” to be relevant. The rationale then would follow that God would change his stance and accept things that the Bible calls an abomination. The question is, why would God create universal, unchanging physical laws to govern the physical universe (such as gravity), but create moral laws that vacillate with time?

The idea of drifting morality or truth has invaded our society and even our churches. Casting off absolutes is like a ship casting off its anchor and drifting aimlessly. Many churches today do not hold to moral absolutes or truth claims.

The result is that we are forced to say that all religions teach the same things, so people should have the freedom to choose a religion just like they choose a flavor of ice cream. We are taught that “All men are created equal,” and we extrapolate that to mean that all ideas and philosophies are equal as well. Anyone who disagrees is said to be judgmental or on the wrong side of history.

Today people would rather ask a pastor which religion is right for them than ask, “What is truth?” The night before Christ’s horrible crucifixion, he prayed to God in the garden. He said, “Thy Word is truth” (John 17:17). Anything that contradicts God’s word is contradicting the truth, otherwise there was no truth in Jesus’ words. Two contradictions cannot both be true at the same time. This is what Edwards refers to as the Law of Non-Contradiction. He gives the example of the shape of the earth. Some people even today believe that the earth is flat. Others believe that it is round. Both views cannot be correct. One contradicts the other.

However in today’s relativistic terms, one could claim that we cannot know truth, therefore we cannot determine if the earth is round or flat. You see the dilemma? In the same way relativism would lead to scientific absurdity, the concept is hailed as noble when it pertains to morality or truth claims. In fact, people disdain anyone who claims to have an absolute truth claim. They perceive it as arrogance. Today you will not hear many television preachers taking an absolute stand against sin of any kind because they fear offending someone.

The problem is that the cross is an offense to those who are perishing. It is foolishness to them (1 Corinthians 1:18). The cross means that we are sinful and that we cannot save ourselves through our own efforts, such as prayer, Bible reading, Church attendance, or rituals. That offends modern culture. They do not want to hear that Jesus is “the Way, the Truth and the Life and no one comes to the Father except through [him]” (John 14:6). Nor do they want to hear. “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). That is truth for me. Is it truth for you?

 

 

 

Is Hell Eternal? Part 2

The last time we looked at this question, we discovered that the passage in Ezekiel 18 referred to in an article has nothing to do with the state of the soul after death. That passage deals with personal responsibility for one’s own sin. No person was to die for the sins of his or her parents. Each person must answer for his or her own actions.

Often, people take Bible passages out of context. If they do not like particular doctrine, such as the doctrine of hell, they look for verses to explain it away, or to lessen its severity. That process is called eisegesis, or in other words, reading something into a text that it does not say. Whereas another practice is completely ignoring a straightforward reading and understanding of a text.

For example, in Revelation 14:9-11, the Bible explicitly says that those who worship the Beast will suffer an eternity in hell. Verse 10 says that they will drink “the wine of God’s fury.” And they will be tormented with burning sulfur in the presence of God and his angels. Verse 11 says that the smoke of their torment will arise forever and ever, and that there is no rest day or night for the wicked.

If, as we saw last time, the wicked are annihilated, that would mean they are resting from torment. This passage does not indicate that they cease to exist. It clearly states they will suffer day and night.

A similar passage is also found in the book of Revelation. In chapter 20, we find an angel capturing Satan and throwing him into the Abyss for a thousand years. This period is called the Millennium when Christ will reign on earth during those thousand years. Notice that just before in Revelation 19:20, the Beast and the False Prophet were cast alive into the “fiery lake of burning sulfur.” This is the same place mentioned in chapter 14.

Now let’s return to Satan’s story. In Revelation 20:7. We see that after the Millennium, Satan is released from his prison, and he gathers the world’s armies one last time to fight against God again. Of course this is doomed to failure as he is captured again and thrown into the fiery lake where the Beast and the False Prophet already were. Revelation 20:10 says, “they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.” Notice the Beast and the False Prophet had already been there for a thousand years while Satan was in the Abyss. They had already been burning and suffering torment for a thousand years. They had not been annihilated. They had not been purged of their sin. Then God adds Satan to the mix, and “they will be tormented day and night forever and ever” (verse 10). This passage says nothing about annihilation. It speaks of eternal torment.

The article in Signs of the Times magazine speaks of Revelation 20:14 as the “final annihilation.” That is circular reasoning. The author of that article holds a particular view as to what death means. Because he believes death means annihilation, then the second death must mean the final annihilation. His argument does not prove his point. Death does not mean cessation of existence. It means separation. It is a separation of the spirit from the body. I will have to deal with this topic in another column.

The parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus in Luke 16 gives a clearer view of what hell is like. Many who do not like the concept of hell say this is simply a parable, that it is not reality. My question then is, “what is this parable teaching?” If it is not about the conscious existence of the soul after death in either a place of comfort for torment, what was Jesus trying to say? In Luke 16:19-31, Jesus tells the story about an unnamed rich man and a poor man named Lazarus. Jesus never used actual names of people in the rest of his parables, so this must’ve been important. The fact is both of these men died, the rich man was buried (verse 22), and angels carried the poor man to Abraham’s side. They did not carry the poor man’s body so it must’ve been the spirit, which did not become annihilated at death. The rich man left his body in the tomb, and his soul was not annihilated, but rather went to hell (Gr. Hades). In that place, the rich man was conscious of Lazarus’ existence, he remembered his own brothers, and experienced extreme torment. He was not in a state of soul sleep; nor was he annihilated. He did not cease to exist. His body was in the tomb. His spirit was in Hades. This parable teaches a conscious existence of the person after the death, or separation of the spirit from the body. It does not teach nor support the idea of annihilation.

It’s also important to note that Abraham said no one could cross over from Hades either to paradise or return to the earth from Hades. This rules out the idea of purgatory. There is no period of suffering temporarily until one is purged of sin, and then can enter into paradise.

If death meant the cessation of existence, and there is no suffering in hell forever, why would Jesus die? What is there to save us from? On the contrary, saying that Jesus died for us so we could live forever with him puts the focus on mankind rather than God. Why not just let all human beings die and cease to exist? If the wage of sin is simply physical death, why not just let people die for their own sin? Once they die, just resurrect them or just leave them out of existence for eternity.

The reality is that Hell is such a terrible place, created for Satan and his angels (Matthew 25:41), that God did not want mankind to go there. Jesus stated that hell consisted of eternal fire prepared for Satan and his angels, not mankind. However, if you choose not to follow Jesus, you are, by default, choosing to follow Satan and his angels. Where they end up, you too will end up.

God does not want anyone to go there. He will not force you to follow Christ. It is up to you. Do you want to repent of your sin and follow Christ, or will you continue on your way and be separated from God forever?

WWJHO?

By Mike McGuire

Several years ago bracelets with the letters WWJD appeared on the wrists of youth everywhere. The letters stood for “What would Jesus do?” The purpose was for people to stop and ask themselves that question when contemplating a particular course of action.

I would like to propose a new phrase: WWJHO? “Where would Jesus hang out?” Maybe you think that Jesus would hang out a lot at church. After all He seemed like a pretty religious guy. We find Him in the Temple at age twelve discussing religious matters with the elders. He called the Temple “His Father’s House.” One would think that He would hang out a lot there. If we are to be followers of Christ, then maybe we should spend a lot of time at church.

While Jesus did spend a considerable amount of time there, perhaps the greatest discourse of all time was not delivered at the Temple or within any other building. Rather it was given on a mountainside. Some of the most often quoted passages in literature come from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount.

He sat among the common people of His day. In fact he was one of them. He was a carpenter by trade. Speaking of His teaching, some of His critics asked, “Where did this man get these things? (Matthew 13:56). He was neither a religious scholar, nor a trained Rabbi, but He spoke with the authority that neither of them had (Mark 1:22).

At other times He proclaimed messages to the people from the bow of a fishing vessel, not because the people were recreating at the lake, but because that was where they were working. He told stories of farmers and landowners, fields and vineyards, because that was what he was familiar with.

He called fishermen and tax collectors to surround Him. He touched lepers and healed them. He touched prostitutes and freed them. He would hang out with the working people, but the religious hypocrites He turned away.

If we want to make a difference in our world, then we must do what Jesus did. We must hang out where Jesus did. We must touch whom Jesus touched. If we do, we may incur the same wrath that Jesus faced. It was not the tax collectors and prostitutes that made Jesus angry. It was not the demon possessed that He chastised. They were not the ones who crucified Him, but self-righteous religious hypocrites who cared more about their religious status quo than the people they were supposed to serve.

As we leave our churches after services, let us go out and touch the world as Jesus did. Let us hang out where He would if He were physically here today. After all, the church is His body. Learn what your spiritual gifts are at church. Develop them there and then put them into practice where Jesus would hang out.

Mike McGuire is the pastor of Belvue Baptist Church, Hobbs, NM, where the SON always shines. There is always room for you.