The Call

Driving down the freeway the other day I passed a billboard that read simply:

HELL IS REAL.

 Eventually we passed another that said “Jesus loves you”. I’m sure well-meaning Christians put up these signs, but unfortunately, their efforts are insufficient. They don’t tell the whole story. At best, the latter one instigates feelings of happiness and forgiveness whether or not you are following God — Jesus loves you, and that’s all there is. And the former one puts an utter fear of God in a person — a fear that can result in repulsion. We end up with two choices: a syrupy, non-judgmental God whose mercy outweighs his merit, or a lightning-hurling Zeus who is ready to squash the next human who crosses his path. Neither are accurate portrayals of the Lord that I love.

So who is Jesus? Today he’s the sweet-talking shepherd; the “nice guy” of the Bible. The Old Testament God, Jehovah, is one of judgment and sacrifice; the angry, cloud-shaking man upstairs. That is what the world would have us think, anyway. The true God of the Judeo-Christian faith is a perfect balance of both justice and love. This God is Jehovah, but He is also Jesus Christ. He is compassionate, but must also judge sin; He is our Friend, but He is also our Lord; He is loving, but must also reprove us out of that love; and He is our Redeemer, but also the Righteousness of the world. How can He be all these things? Isn’t He contradicting Himself? Understand that the judgment of Jehovah was not wiped away by the gentleness of Jesus Christ. They are one God — with the Holy Spirit of God — and cannot be violated. God has many facets, but all are part of His character.

Why does someone need this Jesus? Many tactics are taken to convince people that they need Him. Some use love and fulfillment — hence, “Jesus loves you” signs; others use material possessions — the incorrect interpretation of “abundant life” in Christ, and some use fear — such as the “Hell is Real” example. There is actually only one reason that people need Jesus. Because we are all sinners. “Sure, I’ve heard that one before; you judgmental Christians are always telling us we’re so bad. Well, I’ve been a good person!” First, Christians, at least those that are following God’s Word, are not judgmental. We are not here to judge how good you are. But God is. All we are trying to do is proclaim the truth — that God’s standard of perfection cannot be met on human strength alone. No one is perfect. People are all born with a sinful nature due to Adam’s sin at the beginning of time. Adam’s sin against God caused him to be separated from Him, and consequently all we his children are separated also. To be reinstated to God, we must make the conscious decision to accept the sacrifice He offered on our behalf.

Sacrifice? Why must there be a sacrifice? The Bible says that the “wages of sin is death”. We cannot enjoy a reward for our sinful behavior in this life. In the Old Testament times, sacrifices of a lamb were made to temporarily cover for sin, but these could never wipe it away. God loved His people so much that He sent His only Son to die, that we could be given righteousness and eternal life. His blood covered our sins. He was perfect and guiltless, but He was killed for our sake — just as a lamb. This sacrifice of the ultimate, perfect Lamb completely wipes away sin. By accepting that you are a sinner and in need of Christ’s atonement, you are saved:

“If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved…” (Rom.10:9)

fo29occanjitsgca8e1c8gca3zc65rcaetkrd2cacjq1hzca05kqjgcao3gqgscae2zceucah65afzca6hlap6calsxo5hca2qbdyxcae62tdjca101cmucav0tqe7cap2snhgcayysvw7cal7ytjjOnce one is saved, the journey begins. Christ’s atonement does not keep us from sinning in the future — it simply begins our relationship with the living God. We must seek Him and follow Him, and when we fall, as we will, we have an Advocate with Jesus Christ at the right hand of God. This does not mean we take advantage of His grace and sin even more (Rom.6:1-2) — those who love Him will do as He commands (Jn.14:15). But as we grow in the knowledge of and love for Him, we will become more like Him every day.

Our Lord does not call us to futility.  He does not call us to fear and ambivalence.  His call is answered by the men and women who are strong enough to admit their weakness before an almighty God.  It is humility that is exalted, and the humble are those that answer the call God gives to all those he has created.  True strength is found in that humility.

He is calling… are you willing to answer?

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