Who remembers Norma? She was, to date, the only one that has sent an email requesting a specific topic at church. Well, last Wednesday, I received this in the Sunrise Chapel Gmail account.
Dear Pastor Woody,
I found your sermon on relationships and was very pleased with the lesson. Things have gotten better for us as I explained all that you wrote about to my boyfriend. He seemed to understand.
I asked him if we, together, could start following closer to God. We have been trying but he claims everyone thinks he’s crazy. He doesn’t mind the praying all that much as we do that in the confines of our own house. His big thing is he doesn’t know how to behave in a Godly manner outside our home.
Would you mind putting something together about this please. It may help him understand.
How many of you would agree with me if I stood here today and claimed that we’re all a bunch of rebels and outcasts? If you stop and think about it, isn’t that what we are?
What we believe in, and have great faith in, is something that this world has seemingly given up on. Doesn’t that make us just a bit odd?
“The church is not a select circle of the immaculate, but a home where the outcast may come in.” – James H. Aughey (served as Prime Minister, Chief Executive and head of government of Ireland on three separate occasions)
Truly, those who are saved know what it’s like being an outcast or outsider. When I finally found my way back to God, my family thought it was simply an escape from all I’d recently been through. My friends thought I’d been brainwashed or just flipped-out. My co-workers hated that I didn’t laugh at the same jokes or gossip about people like I used to.
2 Corinthians 5:17 – “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!”
If church is for only perfect people, I can’t join it because I’d ruin it. See my point? Someone once told me that the church is full of hypocrites, but I say, “Well, there’s always room for one more.” The truth is that there are more hypocrites outside of the church than there are inside.
2 Corinthians 5:21 – “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”
None of us are perfect, but we have a Perfect Redeemer who makes us perfectly acceptable to God, and all that matters is what matters to God, not what matters to other people.
Jesus Sides with the Outcasts
My friends, Christian persecution is going to get worse and worse in the coming months and years in the United States. Believe me, it has already started. We only see the tip of the iceberg, but underneath the surface, there is a growing army of Christian hostiles who have it in for us.
They want us out of the public square, they want us out of business, they want us out of the workplace, and they really want us out of society.
John 16:2 – “They will put you out of the synagogue; in fact, the time is coming when anyone who kills you will think they are offering a service to God.”
Jesus predicted that the day would come when they would kill us, thinking they’re doing God a favor. This has been happening around most of the world for centuries, but it’s getting closer and closer to our own place, so the church may not be a place for only outcasts; it might be one of the few sanctuaries we have left.
We should always remember; our Lord did not come into this world to save the righteous and those that were considered “good” by society’s standards.
Instead, His Father sent Him for us… the “outsiders” and the ones considered as “bad” people… and we, like those in His time that He asked to follow Him, have been saved and reborn.
Mark 2:15-16 – “While Jesus was having dinner at Levi’s house, many tax collectors and sinners were eating with him and his disciples, for there were many who followed him. When the teachers of the law who were Pharisees saw him eating with the sinners and tax collectors, they asked his disciples: ‘Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?’”
And when Jesus overheard them…
Mark 2:17 – “On hearing this, Jesus said to them, ‘It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.’”
Sinners… that’s us! Yes, we are “different.” We aren’t like the rest of society because our cause, or purpose, in this life is not money (Matthew 19:24); not prestige, power or status… our purpose is to obey God’s laws and everything that Jesus taught us while He was here on earth. Those given to us in the Old Testament and those taught by Christ and His Apostles in the New Testament.
What to Do
We’re not rebels! We’re not outsiders! Who we are is a blessed group of Brothers and Sisters in Christ. Our sins have been forgiven us as we have been washed in the blood of Christ.
God sent His only Son to perish so all of this could happen. The Love and compassion of our God, and our Savior, is SO great! It is stronger than any Love we could ever compare it to here on earth.
So, what is it we’re supposed to do for all we’ve been given? Does God ask us for sacrifices of blood on the altar at church? Does He ask for our First-Born? Does He ask us to forsake all others; bow down on our knees and Love only Him.
One time, Jesus had silenced the Sadducees (or high priests) after being questioned and challenged before His followers and one of the Pharisees, an expert on the law, asked him, “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
This was it! This was the answer that all of them were looking for… What is expected of us to be in God’s great glory… what sacrifices were we to make to be deserving of His Love and Compassion?
Matthew 22:37-39 – “Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.’”
How Do We Do That?
That’s it? This is all we need to do to earn God’s Love? Doesn’t seem all that hard does it? But what are some of the simple steps we can take to do this every day?
Who did Jesus say that we are and who we should be?
Salt and Light
Matthew 5:13-16 – “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.”
“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”
We are the “salt of the earth.” I guess, in this sense, we are what makes things better. “The light of the world!” Seems odd for Jesus to call us such a beautiful thing, but how hard is this for us?
Being the Lamp
If you stop and think about this, comparing how others might act or behave around us, let’s think about it in a very simplistic perspective.
This type of person comes into a room, raises a ruckus of sorts, and disturbs everyone else’s peace and enjoyment. They all wish he never came. You, on the other hand, are different. We have heard “The Law” handed-down by Christ… be the lamp!
How simple it can be to just follow this lesson from Jesus. Stay humble; stay kind and always considerate of others. Be the person, that when you enter the room, they all go… “Oh good, look who’s here!”
You would be utterly startled what a different and powerful impact this can have on anything you do; anywhere you go; and with anyone you speak with.
- Your words are not harsh.
- Your actions are not brash or aggressive.
- You listen more than you speak.
- You look upon another’s troubles with concern in your eyes.
- You take an honest interest in what others say, disregarding anything you may want to “blurt out.”
- You know Jesus is right there behind you.
These simple little things will bring great pleasure to God. It’s an easy thing to please our Lord. Best of all… you will walk away from these conversations knowing you have pleased God, pleased those you have interacted with and they will always look forward to seeing you again… even wanting badly that you were there.
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Yes, we are the outcasts. We are the outsiders… but I look at this as being something great! A part of God’s plan for mankind.
Even if others call us foolish and weak, I choose to remember…
1 Corinthians 1:27 – “But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.”
Yes, that’s us and God is using us! I am thankful to God that He accepts the outcasts, the least of the world, and the people whom the world has little regard for, but God Loves to call the weak of the world to confound the mighty because this shows that it must be of God, and He receives the glory. He deserves the glory anyway, doesn’t He?
Remember who Christ told us we were. Remember the sacrifice He made for us before His Father in Heaven. Remember the things He has taught us and understand the simplicity behind His demands on us.
Love one another!
Go with God; be good to one another; always stay humble; always be kind… God Bless!