I have a confession to make. A while back, I realized I have a problem. I have a struggle with the gospel of Jesus Christ. Deep down, I haven’t really wanted forgiveness of my sins. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I have asked for forgiveness again and again and again, that is, if simply saying those words counts. But I realized that while saying those words, I had not really been asking for what God really offered. Please, let me explain.
What is your image of God? I don’t mean what is your Bible class answer to the question about who God is. I mean in those moments when your subconscious is guiding your actions and reactions to what is going on around you, what is your image of God? How does He behave? How does He treat you? If you’re like me, it is not always a great image.
I have to share a story I heard from my brother-in-law, Nathan Williams.
4 Servants Fell in a Pit
Four servants were walking through a field one day, when a sinkhole gave way and they fell into a deep pit.
As they came to their senses and assessed their situation, they began to confer about what to do. The first servant began to think about his hard life, his nagging wife, his pestering children. He thought about all the work he would have to do if he got out of that pit. He decided that he kind of liked it down there. He curled up by the dirt wall, pulled a rock under his head, and went to sleep.
The other three continued conferring.
The second servant began to think about what a great master he had. He knew the master would come looking for them and save them. He knew that since the master would take care of them, he could just sit there and wait. He leaned against the wall of the hole and waited.
The other two kept conferring.
The third servant looked at the wall of the pit and said. “We can do this. All we have to do is dig out some hand holds, grab hold of rocks and roots. I think we can dig and climb our way out of here. If nothing else, I think we can dig at these walls and build a ramp to get out.” This servant started digging and working hard.
The fourth servant new that was just impossible. The pit was too deep, the dirt too loose. They would never climb or dig their way out of that pit. All that would accomplish was pulling more dirt down on top of them. So he began to holler. “Master, Master. Save us. We are stuck in this hole. We can’t get out. Save us.”
A few moments later a rope was let down into the hole. The master said, “Grab the rope and I will pull you up.” The fourth servant, seeing his salvation, grabbed the rope and was pulled to safety.
The master flung the rope down again and said to the third servant, “Stop digging. Grab the rope and I’ll save you.” But the third servant said, “No, Master. Watch and see. I can dig and climb my way out of this pit. When I’m done, you’ll see what a wonderful and hard working servant I am. You’ll be so proud of me.”
The master spoke to the second servant. “Take the rope and I’ll save you.” But the second servant said, “No. You must not be my master. My master would just save me from this hole and ask nothing of me. I’ll wait here for my master.”
The master roused the first servant from his slumber and said, “Take the rope and I’ll save you.” But the first servant said, “Save me? Save me from what? I’m comfortable down here. No one expects much of me down here. No one is nagging me down here. The dirt is soft and comfortable. Even this rock for a pillow is not so bad. I am getting a little hungry, but I think that pain is worth it. I’ll just stay here. Your rope may be good for others, but I don’t need saving.” He went back to sleep.
To this day, the rope dangles in the hole waiting for those servants to trust their master’s strength to save them. There was much weeping in the master’s house for the three who remained in the pit. But there was also much rejoicing for the one servant who had been saved by the master.
Which servant are you?
How do Christians mirror these servants? You can add your input by clicking here?
Are we teaching this enough in our congregations?
Some church is offering gas cards to get folks to visit. I have no doubt some folks will proclaim, “How innovative! How creative!” Some might say, “Wish I had thought of that.”
I say, what happened to Romans 1:16: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek” (ESV).
I can already hear someone say, “Now Edwin, we believe the gospel is God’s power to save, but we’ve got to get people here to hear that gospel or they won’t be saved.” I say, what happened to Mark 16:15: “And he said to them, ‘Go…'” (ESV)? God didn’t ask us to figure out ways to get people to “come to church.” He asked us to go to them. It might be one thing if a congregation was giving free gas to its members so they could travel the highways and byways talking to folks about the gospel. But since when is our job to figure out how to get people to come to church?
But that’s not all. Do we really want to be the people who say God’s gospel is powerful enough to save, but only after a certain point? Do we really want to be the people who say the gospel is not powerful enough to save people from start to finish? Do we really think God needs us to get them so far and then He’ll take over? Or do we think the Gospel is powerful enough to get people interested in hearing it and then in obeying it?
Perhaps the problem is the average Christian is, well, average. Maybe if we could move beyond being unremarkably average and really let the Gospel change our lives, other people might get curious about what is going on in our churches.
I can also already hear someone else say, “Now Edwin, we are not ashamed of the Gospel.” Let’s get real. When our Vacation Bible Schools look more like county fairs with free crafts and bouncy rides, we certainly aren’t saying we think the Gospel can hold its own. When our assemblies look more like rock concerts or club hopping, we certainly aren’t happy with just the Gospel. When we are trying to get people to “come to church” by appealing to their fleshly desires with free gas or with parties for the teenagers, mixers for the young singles, babysitting for the parents and other such appeals, we are saying we just don’t think the Gospel alone will cut it. When someone asks us, “What do you have for my kids?” and we bow our heads, kick the dirt and say, “Just the Gospel,” we are showing embarrassment and shame. We should be able to hold our heads high and say, “We have the Gospel that saves. We have it for you, for your kids, for your grandkids and for everyone in your whole family.”
Let’s face it, a church giving away free gas will get more people in the pews. But free gas doesn’t put anyone in heaven. Only the gospel of Jesus can do that. God is not saying to us, “Help me. I’ve got the saving gospel but no one wants to listen to it. Do something, please.”
Why don’t we just live the gospel, teach the gospel and let the gospel govern our churches. Yes, I know not many people are into the gospel. Not many people are going to want to “come to church” if all they get out of it is the gospel message. But what good are we doing trying to manipulate people into hearing the gospel? What good are we doing saying God’s gospel is not enough to save people from start to finish?
I’ll say it again, “I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes…”