Christian, are you grateful for the grace of our great Savior, Jesus Christ? I was recently struck with the kindness of our God to reveal himself to me. There is a team of us who regularly visit the local Juvenile Detention Center to hang out, play some music and talk about the gospel. Every time we go we have someone who teaches the message of the gospel. After the teaching we have time for one on one interaction with the youth at the Detention Center. It is a joy to find out about these youth and also talk with them more about the gospel of Jesus Christ. What we come to find out in those conversations is just how amazing it is when God opens the eyes of the blind.
Only God knows how many have been impacted by this ministry. It is a joy to go and serve the Lord with gladness but it is not always easy. Turnover rate is quick so chances are we may only see a kid one time. We have one shot to get the gospel to them. They hear it and most of them agree with it. "I am a sinner and I believe Jesus Christ is the Savior" but then it seems to get interesting from that point on. Most of them will follow that statement with: "When I get out I'm going to try to just do better." Then the list begins with going to church, reading the Bible, praying and staying out of trouble. The gospel goes right back to works and earning God's favor which is not the gospel at all. So why is there a disconnect between understanding one is a sinner in need of a Savior and then relying on one's own strength to change?
Most of these youth have grown up in a religious setting where church is a very high priority. Sunday's are a big family time to get together and go to church. Church is important but it is not the "power of God unto salvation." What happens with most of them is they grow up seeing a disconnect between church and life. Sunday is a day to honor and praise God but what about the rest of the week? The church may preach the gospel but unless God gives life to a dead heart church is just a social outing. When Monday hits they are back to "real life." But that is not the case with those who are born again. Worship is an every day, every hour, every minute, every second part of life. We all worship but the object of our worship is different.
For true Christians the object of our worship is Christ. We are saved through him, we stand firm in him, we are being conformed more into his image and we long for his return. We have surrendered our rights to the One who rightfully owns us. The Bible says, "We are not our own for we were bought with a price" (1 Corinthians 6:20) This seems like a drag unless you understand that the Creator is the only one who can truly understand what is best for the creature. The religious person does not understand this reality therefore they only wish to be saved from the hell rather than surrender all to Christ. Christ is the Savior but not Lord. We cannot miss this point. Jesus died to pay the penalty for our sins upon the cross but through his resurrection he defeated sin's power. When a person believes on the Lord Jesus Christ he is not just receiving forgiveness for his sins but he is also receiving the power to not let sin reign in his mortal body (Romans 6:12). The gospel transforms an old person into a new person.
One of the saddest parts in talking with these youth is the fact that they have the knowledge of the gospel. They understand they are sinners in need of a Savior but they are unwilling to let Jesus be Lord of their life. They would rather climb up an eternal hill of condemnation than submit their lives to Jesus who climbed that hill for them when he died at Calvary. The whole gospel is a power beyond my total comprehension which is why I am daily amazed by my God's work in saving me.
Grace upon grace,