Gospel Gazette Online
Vol. 16 No. 12 December 2014
Page 10


Robert Johnson

Parking lot dings; it seems you can’t avoid them. Not only so, my car seems to attract them! I’ve never had as many on any other vehicle I’ve owned than on this one. It seems every time I come out from wherever I have it parked, someone has left their mark on it, literally. One went down the entire passenger side, starting at the back gas cover door to the front bumper. Another is on the driver side front bumper, with scratches so deep the paint is gone. Furthermore, the passenger side door has had about 100 identifiable spots where people opening their doors has whacked mine.

In times past, people seemed more concerned about making sure such things didn’t happen, because they didn’t want anyone doing the same thing to their vehicles. However, in today’s environment, people don’t seem to care. No notes are left, either of apology or of insurance, and if you catch someone in the act, they act offended if you mention it.

All of this illustrates how courtesy seems to have disappeared. When selfishness rules, others don’t matter. “So what if I put a scratch in your paint? I was in a hurry.” “I don’t have time to be careful opening my door.” “So what if I came in too wide and fast? You shouldn’t have parked where I wanted to be anyway.” It’s easy to justify selfish actions, at least until it happens to us.

While dings in a car may seem minor, do we offer similar excuses when we put self above God? “Sunday is my only day to rest; I can’t take the time to worship.” “My budget is stretched; I can’t give to the Lord.” “Don’t even think about asking me to get involved in the work of the church; you have no idea all the things I have to do.” “I can’t help others; do you see anyone helping me?”

It’s a good thing God loves us more than we seem to love Him, otherwise what would our lives be like? Would He have sent His Son to die for us? Would He see that our physical needs are met? Would He offer us strength for our weaknesses or comfort in our distress? Paul put it best when he wrote, “For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly” (Romans 5:6). God being there for us has nothing to do with our worthiness, but rather the commitment of His love to us.

With our feelings for God must come a commitment as well, a commitment to exemplify God alive in us. We must think beyond ourselves and be concerned about others. “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:3-5). As servants of our Lord, we must be kind to all (2 Timothy 2:24), just as He is kind to us all.

We can bemoan how much no one seems to care anymore, but the place to begin in making changes is with ourselves. It can start with a car door, progress to our faithfulness in serving God and go all the way to sharing the Gospel to someone lost without it. It’s not all about me; it’s all about God and His love in Christ. What a difference that can make in us, others and the world.

Foreigners and Strangers

Robert Johnson

Scripture is clear that before one obeys the Gospel and before being cleansed by the blood of Christ, one is outside of Christ, separate and apart from God’s grace and removed from a relationship with God. “So then you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with the saints, and members of God’s household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus Himself as the cornerstone. The whole building, being put together by Him, grows into a holy sanctuary in the Lord. You also are being built together for God’s dwelling in the Spirit” (Ephesians 2:19-22 HCSB*).

The term foreigner has reference to one who is a short-term traveler in a country not one’s own. They would be non-residents with no rights. The term stranger is similar, referring to a temporary dweller not having a settled habitation in the place where he currently resides. Without Christ, one is not part of the kingdom of God, “foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world” (Ephesians 2:12).

What a blessing it is not to be a foreigner to God and His kingdom, but to be part of His covenant people, to know the depth of His love and to have the promise of eternal life. However, such doesn’t mean the Christian is not a foreigner or stranger in other ways. Peter reminded his readers, “Dear friends, I urge you as strangers and temporary residents to abstain from fleshly desires that war against you. Conduct yourselves honorably among the Gentiles, so that in a case where they speak against you as those who do what is evil, they will, by observing your good works, glorify God on the day of visitation” (1 Peter 2:11-12).

The child of God should live with the perspective that, as the song goes, “This world is not my home, I’m just a passing through…” We are to understand our focus is to be set on the spiritual, to make our decisions in the flesh based on spiritual values, not solely on the things of this life, as the physical will not endure and what is sin-based only condemns.

Join in imitating me, brothers, and observe those who live according to the example you have in us. For I have often told you, and now say again with tears, that many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction; their god is their stomach; their glory is in their shame. They are focused on earthly things, but our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. He will transform the body of our humble condition into the likeness of His glorious body, by the power that enables Him to subject everything to Himself. (Philippians 3:17-21)

A Christian does not possess dual citizenship, both with the world and with the kingdom of God. As citizens of heaven, we must of necessity be foreigners and strangers to sin and a worldly lifestyle. As James says, “Don’t you know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? So whoever wants to be the world’s friend becomes God’s enemy” (James 4:4). Nothing the world has to offer can compare with what God provides spiritually and eternally. Don’t allow the here and the now to be what it is for which you live, and forfeit your relationship with God and eternal life in the process. In the end, it is far better to be a foreigner to the lifestyle of the world than be a foreigner to the kingdom of God. “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and will then repay every man according to his deeds” (Matthew 16:26-27 NASB).

* HCSB = Holman Christian Standard Bible

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