Games we play as adults that we used to play as children:
"Hide and Seek"
Great games with similar characteristics, right? They do not involve very many people. The games involve acting as if you are in one place or being another person when you are actually somewhere or someone else. The game usually ends when someone gets tired, not necessarily when someone wins. I remember playing in our neighborhood once with my brother and a bunch of the other kids and my brother and I were hiding. We hid for maybe an hour. When we finally came out to give ourselves up we found out that everyone else had stopped playing and gone home.
If you add clown make-up, you get an adult version of these games. The clown make-up is the mask we paint on each day that faces the world. As adults, we still play games, but instead of plastic masks, we wear our smiles and try to outwardly convey something, when in reality we are trying not to be found. I don't have a name for it, but it is acting as if you are a strong and faith-filled Christian when you are just going through the motions. You are not certain of what you believe or if you believe enough things to even be “saved.” You are Saved-ish. As far as games go, it is pretty good. You get to hide in plain sight. Everyone sees you, but no one knows you are playing.
If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. (Romans 10:9-10).
The best defense is always a good offense, right? I've got the scripture right here, so I'm saved. Stamp the passport and I've got TSA approval to enter eternal paradise.
Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father(John 14:12).
Ok. Sounds like you have to believe with your heart and then that means you will do what Jesus did. I'm out. I don't raise the dead, I don't ascend, I have not made the blind see, or cured leprosy.
What can I do that is out of my grasp but within God's reach?
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth”(Acts 1:8).
I feel like I am back on track. There is a chance, by following Jesus and what He said, that I am saved. I need to be His witness in the world, this sounds reasonable, but witness…what? The Good News. Ok. What's that? You may think that I am being redundant or ridiculous. Test me. Ask 5 Christians what The Good News is and see if you can get one consistent and cohesive answer. It would be surprising, if you asked them independently, if you could get a singular answer.
The Good News is a multi-faceted gemstone. As the person to whom you are speaking unpacks their life, there are facets to the gemstone that are relevant to them. When you are telling the Good News to a non-believer, it has to include what the Good News is to that person in the context of his or her life.
• The person has lost hope. The Good News means a bright and truth-filled future(Mark 1:15).
• The dark and consumptive shame from their life and sins crushes the spirit given to them. Forgiveness and love are provided (2 Corinthians 4:17-18).
• Death is a person's fear, their own or a loved one's. Resurrection and life with God is the promise (John 11:25).
You are not alone; each day you have a source of wisdom and strength to which you can turn. Millions of people have turned over their lives to Christ, over the past 2000 years, receiving this strength and wisdom.
There is a heaven, we are forgiven, God wants you to come home, and you cannot make it there by your works. There is a map to salvation. You are not alone. You are never so bad that you cannot be forgiven or return to God (1 John 1:9-10).
Whoa…. This is big stuff. For myself, I believe you have to start with the other person's unpacking of their life. Take that facet first and the promise as offered by Jesus Christ and how he tells us about it in the scripture. From that facet, it is easier to start to discuss the other facets of the Good News.
Recently, I gave the eulogy at my identical twin brother Tim's funeral. I have done a lot of professional speaking. I had never given a eulogy before. They are different than normal public speeches, just in case you were curious. Giving this eulogy for the person closest to me for the entire length of my life made it even more challenging. I am a little ashamed to admit it, but other times in my speaking career, I have not prayed before speaking. This time I did not forget. I prayed hard.
I prayed for God to help me to emotionally keep it together. I prayed for Jesus to bring light into what might otherwise be a dark space. I prayed for the Holy Spirit to use this opportunity to bring glory to God.
God came through.
His "coming through" was not in my remembrances, my preparation notes, or anywhere in my thinking. In my time at the front of the attendees I repeated an idea that was put in my heart at just the moment of remembering Tim. The idea was the difference between being "Saved-ish" and being "Saved."
“Saved-ish” means that you only understand and live by the idea that because you say it and believe it, that is all that is necessary. That is actually only "Saved-ish".
Saved means more, as I hope that I have conveyed here and was written in scripture. Jesus did not make it a hard path to follow. If you have the question, "Now what do I do?" in your mind, here is the simple path:
• Do as Jesus did- Provide hope in a broken world that salvation have been given.
• Do as Jesus said- Speak the truth of the Gospel.
• Do as the disciples did- Spread the Gospel to all the people of the world.
• Do as the loved do- Love other people
That is Saved rather than Saved-ish.