Tuesday, February 07, 2017

CP 275 What's happening (happened) under our noses!

CP 275 What’s happening (happened) under our noses!
A couple of Saturdays ago I was ‘at the computer’ in a Macdonalds near Wollongong. Us miserly oldies know you can get free Wifi at Maccas. As well as my open study bible, I was accessing the Bible Gateway site to bring together the Christ prophecies in Isaiah with their Jesus Christ fulfilment from the New Testament. Why? Getting ready to teach in Vietnam and also preaching at the Sutherland church in Sydney. Out of the corner of my eye I became aware of a shirt-and-tie well-dressed gentleman at the counter with his family. I soon had him profiled as a real estate salesman getting in some time with the wife and kids for coffee, coke and fries. Couldn’t have been more wrong!
The family sat themselves at the table next to mine and the dad observed that I looked as though I was doing some bible study. I replied that I was exploring the linkage between the Isaiah texts and Jesus the Christ. He thought that was good. ‘We do bible study too.’ About twenty minutes later they were ready to leave. As the dad passed by me, he dropped a pamphlet on my table and said, ‘You might find that helpful.’ Real estate salesman? Nope. Jehovah’s Witness giving me a copy of The Watchtower, with a key article entitled, How to Get More From Reading the Bible.
I didn’t look at it again until I came across it this morning in an exercise book I use. Having given it a read there are two things I want to share. First, I’m just flabbergasted, staggered, even bewildered, by its content, both in what is being taught and, more devastatingly, what is not being taught. In its 16 close typed pages, Jesus is rarely mentioned, with a clear sense that he’s just one man, albeit a good one, a good example, among many others. There is not a single reference to the Cross of Christ, nor to repentance or forgiveness, nor to grace, nor to faith in Jesus Christ and his passionate work, nor Christ’s righteousness. At no point is Jesus proclaimed as Lord. The holy spirit is, ‘God’s… powerful active force.’ The Bible is primarily a book of advice and guidance from the Creator. Reading the Bible can improve your life because it has advice about relationships with others, emotional and physical health, moral values and economic welfare! And since I have read it, everything within me has been crying, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO!
You can’t just ignore Jesus the Christ, Saviour, Lord, Redeemer, Immanuel, Name above all names, King of kings, Lord of Lords, Alpha and Omega, the First and the Last, the beginning and the end, the Word who was with God and is God, who took on flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth, the one before whom every knee shall bow, and every tongue confess that He is Lord, without whom we can do nothing! He is the Lord who is my Light and my Shepherd, the Lord who is my Way, Truth and Life, my peace, my joy, my hope and my love, my Resurrection, my strength and my song. In Him the Father is totally for me. I can only honour the Father by honouring the Son.
Secondly, there’s a particular reason this publication caused such a storm in my heart this morning. As you know we have spent the last year on the road with the caravan. Because we are so often in different places, we attend just about every single Market we come across. And during this year, beginning in Queensland, we started to note that the Jehovah’s Witnesses have had a manned stall at every single Market. Not only there. We became aware of their presence at beaches, parks, railway stations, in fact any place where numbers of people might gather. There is free literature everywhere and the approach is unpressured. But they are available for conversation in all the public places where the people are! All the while, I’ve asked myself, ‘Where are those who confess Jesus as the Christ, Saviour of the world, Lord of life, Lord over death and the devil, whose life up to the cross, and his death upon that cross is the foundation, the only foundation for forgiveness and reconciliation with the Almighty One?’
People, where are we? Where have we been? I have no idea when these well-meaning people changed their strategy. For sure, they proclaim a different Jesus than the one I know. And for sure, they have stepped into the empty place where we have been called to be. Somewhere in our history we vacated the battlefield. We ourselves have lost the vision of being the Lord’s watchmen in our communities. We forgot to lift up our eyes to see the harvest field before us. This whole thing makes me cringe about our dumbness. We were instructed to ‘Go out into all the world…’ And what have we done? Built churches and expected the guilt ridden and the broken and weary to come to us. Fail, fail, fail, me included.
In the latter part of this year, I sort of got a vision where the local Christians in each town and place did have a little stall or presence where the people gather. Since many markets are on Sunday it would mean somebody wouldn’t be in church each week. (I guess they’d be being church each week!) We’d soon find simple literature to get conversations going. And anybody could do it, especially the hundreds of older knowledgeable folk who have wisdom and passion to mentor the young. I’ve resolved to do it myself. I will need a mechanism so I’ll probably get myself a decent supply of the sort of ordinary secular books people like to read, and also have decent Christ-centred stuff as well. And be available for whatever conversation arises.
Maybe more on this later.

Got to finish here. Be blessed in Him. Fred

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