IT’S OKAY TO NOT BE OKAY

BUT YOU DON’T HAVE TO STAY THAT WAY!

A few years ago our senior pastor, Jud Wilhite, stated he had heard the above caption and indicated that it seemed to fit our church.  Having belonged to eleven traditional churches where services had followed an almost ritualistic routine and now we were on a mission to evangelize Las Vegas and beyond; it was a message I believed we needed to share.  Many traditional churches are made up of largely traditional Christians who voiced a concern for lost people but their concern seldom translated into action.  With exceptions, churches in Las Vegas appeared to have lost their passion for reaching lost people and lost people stayed away.  Was there another city that had more lost people, percentage wise, than Las Vegas?

If you have read my blog: “From a small traditional church to a mega church” you will understand the difficulty in changing from a very traditional church where for years, part of the service was reciting the Lord’s Prayer in unison and singing of the doxology.  You might imagine a visitor may find themselves out-of-place. The chances of their returning were slim to none.

When we first started our transforming from being traditional to seeking lost souls, the congregation would not have been ready to believe it was okay to not be okay.  In fact, if you were not saved, baptized and sanctified, you may not be fully accepted.  Many traditional churches had more things you could not do than what the early church stated was necessary.

Acts 15:28 & 29 – “It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us not to burden you with anything beyond the following requirements:  You are to abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality. You will do well to avoid these things.”

The traditional Jewish leaders wanted new Gentile Christian converts to be circumcised and obey the laws of Moses. The Christian leaders in Jerusalem believed the Holy Spirit was telling them to not place too heavy of a burden on Gentiles who had no experience as what accepting Christ really meant.  This was disputing conversion by the grace of God to working your way to Heaven.   Those restraints were not unreasonable for new Christians.  Gentiles could comply without compromising their freedom in Christ.  Too often Christian leaders are inclined to make recommendations on what we think should be done rather than ever seeking the advice of the Holy Spirit.

To become a church reaching out to the lost, to those who may have had little if any religious background, did not come easily.  I can understand how hard it may have been for Jewish people, who have tremendous rituals and traditions, to accept someone who did not have to accept those traditions and rituals.  It’s just not fair.

For a Christian who has tried to live a Christian life for many years, it may be hard for some to see a person, who may have lived a hedonistic life, receive eternal life just by accepting Christ as their Savior.  Christ gave a parable stating that there will be times when the last will receive the same benefits as those who were first.  A man hired some workers in the early morning, others at noon and some even later.  When it came time for payment they all received the same compensation.  Good thing they were not unionized or there would have been a strike.

You will find that many traditional Christians will not accept evangelistic churches who emphasize converting the lost.  They find it difficult to hear sermons that are not the normal but demonstrate that the Bible is a practical book that can be applied to our present lives rather than just a holy book.   Some believed it sounded too much like self-help stuff and did not have enough traditional worship.

It is Biblical that regardless of a person’s past, they can be forgiven.  This is the message we want to send to those who have little religious background.  However, once they accept Christ and become a converted believer, it is essential that they realize that God does not want them to stay that way.

I John 2:4 – 6 – “Whoever says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person.  But if anyone obeys his word, love for God is truly made complete in them. This is how we know we are in him:  Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did.”

Early Christians wanted to know how they could be sure that they belonged to Jesus Christ.  John says there are two ways: Do we obey God’s Word and do we live as we know Christ wants us to live?  Scripture makes it very clear: Are we obedient to God’s Word, do we accept and submit to God’s will”?  Anyone who claims to know Christ but lives a worldly , unrepentant life shows the truth is not in them.  As Christians we show our love of God by obeying.

There are two missions given to the church: to seek and save those who are lost and then to teach them what it means to live a holy life.  However, we must be careful not to place too many demands initially.  Living a holy life is a process that is guided by the Holy Spirit.  A person that does not change their behavior may have not received the Holy Spirit.  A true Christian has an inner desire that comes from the Holy Spirit to live to please God.  Otherwise, they did not die out to self-control and are unwilling to allow the Holy Spirit to change them.

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