Most Christians these days think Christianity is about them. It's their salvation, it's their worship, it's their Jesus. But nothing could be further from the truth. Jesus saves us for His ends, not ours. Somehow our approach to evangelism has got to begin to make this apparent. All the blatant appeals to personal interest that we make DO NOT serve the Kingdom.I think John's right! And it drives me to my knees in repentance and submission.
In the New Testament, Peter writes that through Christ, believers in Christ have become members of "a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's own people," then says that God has not given us such elevated status for ourselves, but "in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of Him Who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light." (1 Peter 2:9)
Often, as I pray, I'm forced to confess to God that I take a selfish and utilitarian view of my faith. My behavior too often betrays the real motivation of my "devotion" to Christ: "What's in it for me?"
In fact, there's a lot that's in it for me (or anyone) in daily surrendering to and trusting in Christ. He sets me free from sin and death, after all, and gives me the undeserved and unearned privilege of living with Him forever.
But salvation that isn't shared with others too easily becomes self-serving, self-worshipful, self-congratulating, self-promoting.
Jesus says, "No one after lighting a lamp puts it under a bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house" (Matthew 5:15). Cover a lamp and two things happen: (1) It doesn't give light; (2) Denied of oxygen, it soon will go out.
From what Peter and others say in the Bible, I take it that the Holy Spirit sets the lamp of faith aflame within us not just for ourselves, but also to let others see how the God known in Christ can change people from enemies of God, to members of that chosen race, royal priesthood, and holy nation.
When we fail to live in service and love for others, we are failing in our essential call as Christians. And we risk snuffing out our own faith.
As Lutheran pastor, Brian Stoffregen, says in a piece I cited on Easter Sunday:
“Can we say that we really believe in the resurrection of the Lord if we aren't willing to tell others about it?”And, I might add, if we aren't willing to make others' salvation a higher priority than our own?
I'm not pointing any fingers. I'm looking at the man in my mirror. Lord, have mercy on me.
[Read John's post.]