Wednesday, May 25, 2016

1888 Glad Tidings : Insight #9 May 28, 2016

Idols of the Soul ( and other Lessons from Jesus)
Matthew 18:1-4
"By 'little ones' Christ does not mean babies. Those to whom He refers are 'little ones which believe in Me'--those who have not gained an experience in following Him, those who need to be led like children, as it were, in seeking the things of the kingdom of heaven" Ev 341.

I've recently become more aware of how important it is to encourage new members in the faith. A lady who has been taking Bible studies for over a year recently shared her story with me.

 "Years ago I studied the Bible with someone of another faith. After awhile, I gave my life to Christ and was baptized," she recalled. "Not long after, I was attacked by Satan."

Whatever the nature of the trauma (she didn't explain), the experience blind-sided her. She hadn't been looking for it nor had she expected trouble. She turned to the soul-winner who had led her to Christ, but alas, she said, "That person didn't care about me at all. There were no offers of help or words of encouragement. It was as though all he cared about was being able to say he had won another soul to Christ. Once I was baptized he abandoned me and I had nowhere to turn."

This unfortunate train of events concluded by my friend leaving the church soon after her baptism. Decades have passed in the meantime before she was willing to explore learning about the Bible again. Now she is moving cautiously, and it's taking time to gain her trust.

My friend's story is not unique. Many come under strong attack when they start making changes in their lives. New church members need a lot of encouragement and friendship. In the simple story of Jesus caring for the little children we see the gospel lesson here that not only are we to lead these new babes to the foot of the cross, we are to stand by their side as they learn to walk in their newfound faith. When we bring new people into the church, we aren't just filling a spot on the church pew, we are opening a place in our hearts for a new family member. From a human standpoint, relationship building can be time-consuming and inconvenient. But Jesus has not called us to a life of ease, but a life of service.

Matthew 20:20-27
Have you ever noticed how easy it is to see the faults of others and how correspondingly difficult it is to recognize your own? The disciples' experience here is a case study on this very point. They revealed their self-confidence in answer to Christ's question, "Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?"

The disciples answered affirmatively, of course, why would you ask?: "We are able." Then they proceeded to demonstrate in their behavior the principle of "me-first" endemic to our unconverted human hears. And they saw no inconsistency between their behavior (who gets to sit in the best seat in heaven) and their professed willingness to follow Christ to the cross.

They were blind. How was Christ to open their eyes? By revealing the nature of His kingdom: "Whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. . . . just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and give His life a ransom for many." Not long after when the disciples beheld Jesus hanging on the cross, they saw His amazing grace. Blind eyes now opened to behold the goodness of His love. Their own self-serving motives were laid bare. In the weeks that followed, these men underwent a profound transformation, a true heart conversion. They determined to no longer live for themselves but for Christ.

Are we blind also? The words of Christ echo through the ages: "Whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave--just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many." We will never come into unity of faith by arguing or discussing contentious points of doctrine. But we will come into the unity of faith as we learn to "Behold the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world" John 1:29.

~Patti Guthrie