This morning I thought of a story I once heard. A woman was busy making a thanksgiving supper with the turkey and all. She was busy cutting the turkey in half when her little girl came walking in. As all kids do, her little girl asked her why she was cutting the turkey in half. Her mom answered and said that her mom did it that way. The woman went on with the preparations and a little while later her mom arrived to enjoy the meal with the family. The little girl then asked her granny why she always cut the turkey in half. Granny replied and said that se learned it from her mom. Eventually the great-grandma arrives and the little girl asked the same question to her great-grandma. She replied and said because if she did not cut the turkey in half it would not have fit into her oven she had in the house where her daughter grew up.
We see how through generations certain things are done that was learned from the previous generation. Nobody asks “why”, just accept things as the way it is done. I once picked up a “yoga” book in a shop to look at the book behind the book. A friend of mine walked past and gave a big shreek and proceed by telling me how wrong Yoga was. I was so buffled by her reaction I did not have to the time to tell her that I was actually looking at the book on the shelf. No wonder us Christians are seen by the world as weirdos. We walk around with an judgemental face and convince the world what is “wrong”.
As Christians we sometimes have the believe that we have to pay God back His free gift of redemption by earning a lifestyle of living right and wrong. That is called living according to the law and according to Paul, the law kills. Let us look at things from a different perspective. Please note by this I am not saying that we can all go ahead and do whatever we want because we determine what is right and wrong.. like for instance for one person it is wrong to kill but for a other it is part of culture. I am not talking about morals. I am talking about that extras we add on.. Do not handle, do not touch.
So my perspective. There was a man in the bible named Saul who later became Paul. We meet him in the book of Acts where he watched Stephen being stoned and was actively persecuting the Christians. Yet, he was mostly known as the man who wrote two thirds of the New Testament. What happened to Saul to have become a Paul, a man loved and adored by the same Christians that he persecuted? We all know the story of him on his horse and lightning and he was blind. We know that Ananaias was sent to restore his natural and spiritual vision. And out came a converted Paul. Now, if I was persecuting the enemy and something like that happened to me I would just silently slip of the edge of the world. I would not convert out of sheer fear of this God that might just smack me again.I would try my best to become invisible. Yet, Saul becomes Paul, the most bold apostle of them all. One healing and filled with the Spirit later and there you have it.
This morning I was pondering on this conversion. You see, Paul had a change of heart. We don’t hear his confession at his conversion but as they say, what the heart is full will overflow. We read his “change of heart” in all the epistles he has written. At one stage in Corinthians he actually says his “conversion”: ” I only preach Christ and Him crucified.”
Back to all the generations of doing thing as we saw the previous one did and never asking. If you would ask a kid today in sunday school what Jesus did for us on the cross, he would answer that Jesus came and died for our sins. That is that. We call it childlike faith. I started asking why? Why did Jesus die for our sins? What does the cross mean? And why would Paul only preach Him and Him Crucified? What is the mystery of Christ Jesus?
The Gospel is one powerful message yet we have watered it down to just hear say. I read in the Bible that the disciples went into the world preaching the gospel and Jesus confirmed their preaching with signs and wonders. What am I trying to say? The message of the Cross and Jesus crucified has the power to change your whole world. It moves you beyond what is right and wrong into a world where living a life like Jesus is actually normal. We chase miracles as if it is the most obscure thing in this world.. some of us criticize it, yet according to the message of the Cross we have been restored to our original form and Jesus is the mirror showing us what we look like.
Jesus came to demonstrate us the life that was destined to us. It is more than just our sins been forgiven, that alone is very powerful. I have witnessed where I prayed for a young man who had a horrible past. He did a lot of things “wrong” . He was standing in front of me full of shame. I just repeated over and over, you are forgiven. I then saw the power of forgiveness happen in front of my eyes. That man walked away a free man.
Christianity is not about right and wrong. This morning I read of the visit Paul had to the city of Athens. As he walked around in the city he saw that the city was full of idols. It says in Acts that he was distressed. Now, a Christian not understanding the gospel will immediately look at the idols and judge the people, saying they are “wrong”.He would warn all other christians not to go to the Athens because of the “wrong” things they do. But why? Why are they “wrong”? Distressed is a deep word. I think Paul was actually heartbroken, because he knew the Gospel and the true God. He knew that the city of Athens was in a cold hold of the enemy that actually kills and steals. His heart broke because they were ignorant of the power of the Gospel.He immediately started sharing the Good news of that the people of Athens were also part of the redemptive plan of God.
Sin is “wrong” because of the impact sin has on God’s loved people. God dealt with sin for once and for all.Sin steals, kill and destroy. It is not “wrong” as much as it is unacceptable to touch the beloved of God. It steals from the beauty ( us ) of God.
Learn to ask why. Learn to hear what it really means when we say we believe in the Gospel.