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Tuesday, September 25, 2007

survivor: china

Thursday night Heather and I watched Survivor: China. We haven’t watched Survivor since the first show a few years ago, but checked this one out because, Leslie Nease, one of the DJs from New Life 91.9 is on the show. If you don’t know what Survivor is, it’s a reality game show where two teams of people are put in a remote location for 16 weeks. They have to survive on their own and along the way they compete in various games and challenges, with one contestant being sent home each week.

Well, set in China, this show kicked off with a “welcoming ceremony” in a Buddhist temple. Anticipating Leslie’s reaction, the show host made clear that this was not worship, but just a welcome. What did Leslie do? When they were asked to bow down and pray before the statues of Buddha, she left the building. When they asked her about it afterwards, she said, “That felt like worship to me. I’m not religious, but I do have a relationship with Jesus Christ, and I will bow down and worship him alone.”

In Luke 13:22-30, Jesus addressed precisely this distinction between religion and a relationship with God through him.

Here are the main points, summarized.

1. The time to attend to faith and salvation is now, not later. (v. 25)

2. While there may be positive elements to religion and religious practice, there are very real limits to what they contribute to our salvation, and not a few potential dangers of religion practiced for the wrong reasons. (vv. 26-28)

3. While “the door” is narrow, the invitation given is extraordinarily broad. (vv. 29-30)

Going to church, participating in church – that is, being religious – is not a bad thing, unless those things become a substitute for the relationship with God through Jesus. It’s like confusing movie nights, candlelight dinners, flowers, and phone calls with love itself. The two are related, but they can also be tragically disconnected.

Jesus invites us not only to hang around and listen, but to “Come, believe, and follow.” That is the door. There are not multiple doors; there is just “Come and follow me.” There is only Jesus Christ.

At the heart of Jesus’ words is this: we will be surprised at who is saved, because many of us don’t have a clear understanding of what (and who) saves us. And yet, even to those who are confused, Jesus speaks clearly that we might hear. The way to God is through Jesus Christ alone. And the time to come, believe, and follow Jesus is now. It is not tomorrow; it is not when we stand ready to be judged. The time is now.

So, beloved, hear the good news: God has come all the way down to where we are through Jesus Christ that we might turn and see Him face to face, know Him personally, and follow Him obediently. There is no sin, no past, or no weight that is too great for God. He invites you now to the banquet. You are His guest; come in!

Condensed from the sermon HERE
Listen to the audio (through mid-October) HERE

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