|Vol. 14 No. 11 November 2012||
David A. Sargent
Recently, the Lewisville (TX) church of Christ hosted its annual “Sending Them Off With Prayer” night. During this gathering, the church prays for everyone involved in the beginning of a new school year. This year, the Lewisville church added something new: Bibles were given to all of the children who were entering the first grade. These rising first-graders were called to the front of the building with their parents and were presented with a Bible by the minister, Jeff Jenkins.
Jeff related some of the responses from these first graders: “One of our parents sent me a picture of her little girl in bed the night before her first day of school and she is holding her Bible.” “Another one of our students came up to me during the next church service and said, ‘Mr. Jeff, look, I brought my new Bible!’”
“Another parent sent me the following story about her daughter: ‘Avery was so excited tonight when she received her Bible at church. She quickly noticed it had a map in the back. She looked up at me and said, Mommy, look, it has a map; now I will never be lost.’”
Jeff smiled and thought, “You are right… This Bible is your map so you will never be lost.” The Bible, God’s Word, is our map. It reveals where we are, where we are headed and our desired destination. The Bible reveals that we are lost in sin, and the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23). Yet, the Bible also reveals that God loves us so much that He gave His Son Jesus to die on the cross for our sins so that we might have forgiveness of our sins and have access to the Way to eternal life in heaven (John 3:16). Jesus is that Way (John 14:6).
The Bible gives us the following directions to reach our proper destination (Heaven): place your faith and trust in Jesus (Acts 16:30-31), repent of sin (Acts 17:30-31), confess Jesus before men (Romans 10:9-10) and be baptized (immersed) into Christ for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38).
Then, we must continue to follow Heaven’s Road Map for the rest of our lives, being careful not to “veer off course” (1 John 1:7). We must continue to follow that narrow and difficult way which leads to life everlasting (Matthew 7:13-14). “Your Word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path” (Psalm 119:105). Yes, Avery, God has given us a Map (His Word) so that we will never be lost – if we will read and heed His instructions. Will you?
Why does the news you read in the paper, see on TV or read on the Internet always sound so bad? I once had it explained this way. Our news focuses on the negative because it is out of the ordinary, atypical, not an everyday occurrence. Tornadoes, then, are newsworthy for several reasons (the ecological impact, the economic impact, the human perspective, etc.). Yet, tornadoes do not happen every day, so they arrest our attention, especially if they happen where we live. The point being made is that not everything happening in the world is bad. Of course, bad things do happen. We should not, however, allow the bad to keep us from seeing the good. An objective perspective is needed.
The same can be true spiritually. Elijah complained to God, “The Israelites have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword. I alone am left…” (1 Kings 19:10). Elijah was viewing the world through Jezebel’s threat to kill him. His response to God was, “Nobody serves you but me, and they’re trying to kill me!” Obviously, the situation was bad in Israel, but not all bad. God reminded Elijah there were 7,000 in Israel who had not worshipped Baal (1 Kings 19:18). God gave Elijah a more objective perspective.
It is easy to sit back and complain about problems, real or imaginary, in the Lord’s church. That the church has problems is, no doubt, true. We need, however, to keep an objective perspective; not everything in the church is bad. Reading the Corinthian letters, the church at Corinth clearly had serious problems. Paul, however, did not reject them; he dealt with them as brethren. He commended the good, rebuked the negative and sought to instruct and encourage all in righteousness. Similarly, we should neither condone evil nor ignore what is good. Remember the word of our Lord, “On this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18).
We live in a world of sin, but there is hope in Christ. Keep a proper perspective of life. As Paul admonished, “Test everything; hold fast to what is good; abstain from every form of evil” (1 Thessalonians 5:21-22), for “the one who calls you is faithful” (1 Thessalonians 5:24). Never forget, “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28). Above all else, no matter how bleak life becomes to us, God is victorious. “But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ! Therefore, my dear brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the Lord’s work, knowing that your labor in the Lord is not in vain (1 Corinthians 15:57-58).