Responding to Christ's love
May 24, 2010
by Pastor Steve Basney, Open Arms Community Church, Howard Lake

Several years ago, a large Christian organization in the US received a letter from a man in the Philippines asking them to immediately send him 100,000 Bibles for distribution.

Because of the unusually large number of Bibles he was requesting, they wrote back and asked if he could supply them with any personal references. Soon, they received letters from Filipino pastors who attested to his character.

The organization wrote to the man again, asking him how he intended to distribute the Bibles – what was his plan? And why was he in such a hurry?

The man explained that he was going to distribute them on foot, as he had done in the past. He wanted the shipment soon because he was 86 years old and had been diagnosed with cancer; he had an urgency to reach as many people as possible before he left this world.

To me, this man’s commitment and zeal closely parallels the accounts that I read of Christ-followers in the New Testament. It also stands in sharp contrast to the brand of “Christianity” that one usually encounters in America.

Frederic Huntington once said, ”It is not scientific doubt, not atheism, not pantheism, not agnosticism, that in our day and in our land is likely to quench the light of the gospel. It is a proud, sensuous, selfish, luxurious, church-going, hollow-hearted prosperity.”

To state it a bit more plainly, the church, in general (yes, there are notable exceptions), is asleep in the enemies’ lap and appears to be unconcerned about the matter.

Half-hearted, distracted, and lukewarm are descriptions that fit well today. By New Testament standards, we have become so subnormal that when we encounter someone fully alive to Christ and living for that which is eternal, we think they are abnormal and “unbalanced.”

Let me affirm that we are saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone.

However, scripture makes it clear that grace has a transforming affect on our lives (see Titus 2:11-14), and true faith always issues forth into action (James 2:14-19), action that will bring glory to our Savior and be a blessing to others. Faith that does not match this description is said to be dead.

It is a frightening thing that we can deceive ourselves into thinking that all is well between us and God because we have followed certain religious traditions, or we have prayed “the sinner’s prayer,” and we completely miss out on a true relationship with God that transforms our lives.

Jesus said “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy, went and sold all that he had and bought the field.” (Matthew 13:44) In this parable, the man enthusiastically gave up all that he had to obtain that which was precious and eternal. Being a part of Jesus’ kingdom was so important to him that he went for it like he meant it – he gave his all.

God has given His very best for us: “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son . . . ” Jesus was beaten, whipped, and hung bloody and naked on a cross of wood in open shame, paying the penalty for your sins and mine. The righteous, sinless Lamb of God died for foul sinners.

We sinned; He died.

We were guilty; He was punished.

We deserved death; He gave us His life.

Jesus gave His all – out of love for us. How should we respond to such love? Call me a bit crazy, but I think that we were meant to respond like the man in the parable, who went for it with all that he had.