Several years ago, I was active with Prison Fellowship Ministries. This is a wonderful ministry that goes into the prisons and reminds inmates that Jesus was crucified beside criminals. Yet, to the one who believed in Him, Jesus gave him the promise that the same day they would be together in paradise in heaven.
These men and women know they royally messed up. Sure, there's always some rationalizing, but deep down they know they are in need of saving. They NEED a Savior. The difficult part is prying open their hearts for the Holy Spirit to do His miraculous work of convicting them of the fact that Jesus loves them, beyond their crimes and sins, and came to die for them as well. Sometimes, it was a tough sell.
It wasn't too different when Jesus walked among the people teaching. The prostitute he met at the well, the tax collectors he ate amongst and invited one to follow him as his disciple, the adulterers, murderers, and dregs of society, all were drawn to Him. They knew they were sinners. They didn't need convincing on this point. No, they needed convincing that Christ came for them and loves them too.
If you trace the lineage of Jesus, his family tree reads like a police rap sheet. Jesus came from a line that included prostitutes, adulterers, murderers, cheaters and liars.
Jesus came FROM sinners FOR sinners.
The "problem children" of Jesus' day were the Pharisees - the religious leaders. They were well versed in Old Testament scripture. They knew all the do's and don'ts and were quick to point out, with a judging, pious finger, the sins and failings of others. They really didn't think they needed saving. After all, they followed the Law religiously. They really didn't think they needed a Savior.
If you ask someone in today's society, "Do you think you'll go to Heaven when you die?" Most people will answer with something akin to, "Yes, I think so. After all, I've tried to be a good person. I haven't killed anyone or anything like that."
Trying to be a good person may get you a gold star in elementary school, but it ain't going to get you to Heaven. (please excuse the bluntness)
Even Christians, myself included, get misguided notions that one can and needs to, in some way, earn their way to Heaven. Getting to Heaven and into God's good graces is like climbing the rungs of a ladder. In our own power, we laboriously climb these imaginary steps of goodness in our mind's eye. Each good deed somehow getting us closer to God.
I love how Ann Voskamp describes Jesus in her book "The Greatest Gift":
"I tell you the truth (Jesus speaking), you will see heaven open and the angels of God going up and down on the Son of Man, the one who is the stairway between heaven and earth." (John 1:51)
"Jesus doesn't show you the steps to get to heaven - Jesus IS the steps to heaven... Jesus doesn't ultimately give you a how-to, because Christianity is ultimately about Who-to. Every religion, every program, every self-help book is about steps you have to take. Jesus is the only One who BECOMES THE STEP - TO TAKE YOU...He comes to us not in spite of our failings - but precisely because of them."
So what do I need saving from? I haven't murdered. The only thing I ever stole was a pack of gum from Gracie's mom and pop store when I was about nine years old.
Like the prisoners, I need saving from my past and from my inherent sinfulness.
The list gets a little trickier when I think about needing saving from:
Pride a notion that sometimes I think I can get to heaven on my own merit.
Legalism living under the law instead of living freely under grace.
Perfectionism the lie that says I have to do it perfectly or God won't accept it.
Anxiety worry that doesn't claim the truth that God's got this...He's got me.
Fear Oh the projecting of worst case scenarios that forget that His grace is sufficient for ALL my needs.
Anger I rationalize that I have "righteous anger" at times. Jesus doesn't hold a grudge.
Unforgiveness I forget that God is the ultimate and just judge.
From sinners, He came, for sinners.
"Nothing, you see, is impossible with God." (Luke 1:37)
Last, I need a Savior because nothing but Jesus will satisfy this longing in my heart. Not people, or things, or position, or anything of this world. My heart longs for the perfect beyond this place called earth. This world is not my home and I will always be homesick until I am in my Savior's arms.
I need a Savior because I can never be complete without Him.
I need a Savior to enable me to Savor light and love...not only to take it all in, but to give it out in the form of light and blessing to others.
I need a Savior to satisfy the longing of my soul.
I need a Savior because my heart was designed to belong to Him. He loves me more than anyone in this world loves me!
Do you need one too? Take heart...He is coming soon!
Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you that you care so much about me that you, as God, made yourself man in the form of a tiny baby so that you/he would ultimately bear the sins of the world. From the wooden feeding trough that cradled him to the timbers that crucified him, you cared enough to send me a Savior. Lord, forgive me of my sins. Let me live free in your grace...knowing that I am utterly and completely forgiven. As far as the east is from the west - that's how far you have removed my sins from me. Thank you for coming from sinners, for sinners like me. May my lips ever praise your name. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.
Redeemer Christian Foundation, Inc. supported bringing the joy of Christmas to the orphans and impoverished children of Redeemer Christian School, Pakistan.
Acting out the Christmas story...
New shoes for Christmas...
25+ destitute and desperate children on the waiting list to get into RCS, Pakistan.
$12/month and you can sponsor a child and give them the love of Jesus and the hope of an education for 1 year.
Send a check made payable to: Redeemer Christian Foundation, Inc.
Send to: Bev Rihtarchik
103 Silver Lining Lane
Cary, NC 27513
*Include your email address for end of year giving statement*
Taking a little Christmas break...be back in the New Year...blessings to you and yours! May you have a joyous Christmas!!