Saturday, January 22, 2011

Left Behind Series - #1 Left Behind

I am enjoying reading this series again, kind of a refresher =) Although I do admit I don't quite think the world will end the way it does in the series, but it is a fantastic way to be refreshed in the Scriptures. There is a lot of truth written in these books, and even in this first one there are a few places I'd like to touch on that resonated with me.

After the Rapture, there were many people who had claimed to be Christians who were left behind. The one that struck me the most was Bruce Barnes. He was the visitation pastor, but obviously - being left behind - didn't know Christ. He said to Rayford, "I loved church. It was my life, my culture." Later on in the same scene, he said, "I had a real racket going, and I bought into it. Down deep, way down deep, I knew better. I knew it was too good to be true. I knew that true Christians were known by what their lives produced and that I was producing nothing. But I comforted myself that there were worse people around who called themselves Christians." He continued to say how he would often tell people about the cool pastor at the neat church he was on staff at, but wouldn't tell them about Christ because he didn't want to be perceived as one of those weirdos.

I struck me how often I do that... I love telling people about my church, and the people there, and the pastors, but how often do I tell people about Christ? I often allow people to see me as devout and a strong Christian, when in reality I find this description Bruce gives true for me. I do believe in Christ, I do believe that he has died for my sins and rose again, but do I share that with others? Sometimes I do here on my blog - which gets imported to Facebook - but I don't often talk to people face-to-face about Christ, unless I know they're Christian as well.

This hits me a bit hard... As I type this, I'm thinking about the Bible passage where Jesus says that it is the sick who need a doctor, not the healthy (Mark 2:17). In the Scriptural context, Jesus was talking about how he didn't come to call on the righteous, but to call on the sinners. But I think that phrase is valid even over 2,000 years later. Those who do not know Christ are the ones who need him. But how will they know him if nobody leads them to him? I often fear what people would think of me if I started talking to them about Jesus. I wouldn't want to be lumped in with the "weirdos." How selfish is that! I'm more interested in how others view me than the state of their souls.

There's so much more to being a Christian than knowing Scripture and believing in Christ. As exampled by Bruce, you can know Scripture and believe in Christ, and still get left behind. It takes living as a Christian too. Part of that is sharing your faith, as I talked about above. Another part is being more than just a good person. It doesn't matter how many good deeds we can do, there is no way we would be able to earn our salvation. The Bible says, "There is no one righteous, not even one" (Romans 3:10). Jesus also teaches us that only God can save us from our sins (Mark 10:24-27). In the story, Bruce talks about how so many people believe that doing good and living right will get us into heaven. How wrong that is.

Of course, Bruce goes on to say that we are to do good deeds, "but not so we can earn our salvation. We're to do that in response to our salvation." He refers to Ephesians 2:8-9, saying, "We are saved by grace through Christ, not of ourselves, so we can't brag about our goodness." Our goodness is worth nothing. One Scripture reference that has always stuck with me is Isaiah 64:6: "All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags." Think about this: those "filthy rags" that are mentioned were like used maxi pads. Gross eh? All our "righteousness" and good deeds trying to earn salvation are disgusting to God. But good deeds in response to salvation is necessary. I think about James 2, when James writes about how faith without deeds is dead (v. 26).

I gotta wrap this up, because this laptop is dying and I'm not sure where the cord is, and it's also midnight and I'm exhausted... I'm actually almost finished the second book in the series, I've been reading on the bus to and from work, so I'm still getting these books read and still (somewhat) working on those cross-stitching projects needing to get done... Until next time! =)

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