Christianity 201

April 6, 2015

Now is the Time

As the post-resurrection narrative continues, Jesus reveals himself to his disciples and is seen by many, some of whom the Apostle Paul, writing years later, notes are still living, just in case anyone wants the story corroborated. Then follows the ascension.

But for the rest of us, the post-resurrection period means a return to something I call regular church. Even the more liturgical churches often refer to the Sundays after Pentecost as ordinary time. Where does this leave us?

Joel 3:14 Multitudes, multitudes
    in the valley of decision!
For the day of the Lord is near
    in the valley of decision.

I believe it leaves many — multitudes in fact — faced with a decision. What are they going to do now, having once again been confronted with a day that celebrates that in history one man, and only one man, predicted his death and resurrection and then… resurrected?

We who are part of the church sometimes speak in terms of the gospel imperative. This means simply that the answer needed; the response needed; is needed now. Sometimes when I was very young my parents would ask me to do a particular chore and I would want to put it off until later, or even indefinitely. My father would very firmly say, “Now!”

How I hated those words.

But that is the essence of the gospel.

II Cor 6:2b I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.

Joshua 24:15 But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve…But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.

I have had a lifelong love affair with Christian books and music which only lately I’ve been able to explain to people by way of an analogy.

img 040615Imagine it’s a very hot summer day and you are sitting on a dock at the edge of a very cool, refreshing lake. Your discomfort will disappear if you just get into the water, but you sit hesitating on the hot deck boards, not sure if you want to go in or not.

Finally a friend runs down and simply pushes you off the dock. With a splash, you are suddenly cooled and refreshed.

Like so many, I often struggled with Bible reading and scripture study. I needed someone to push me of the dock, so to speak, into the text, and that’s what Christian authors and Christian musicians did for me way back when, and continue to do today. Their books and songs propel me into the text, and into passages in the text I might not ever have considered.

Okay, so what’s that got to do with the imperative of the gospel we’re discussing today?

Your friends, co-workers, extended family, neighbors and fellow-students need to immerse themselves in the refreshing waters of God’s truth, and make that decision to cross the line of faith. You are the person to give them a nudge off the dock. You have been put in their lives to help them take next steps.

Don’t be afraid. The water isn’t over their heads. They just need an extra push, and that can be your way of explaining it: “Would you like to take the next step in becoming a follower of Jesus?”

Studies show that many people in our churches are simply trying to discern next steps; they are waiting for someone to tell them what to do next.

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