About Jesus    Steve Sweetman

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In Need Of Rescuing


As was normally the case, my family spent the first week of July at the Free Methodist Church 's family camp in Orland, Ontario, Canada.  There was a little creek that peacefully wound its way around the perimeter of the camp grounds.  Looking much like a miniature Jordan River, I went under the water in baptism in this creek.  I went under the water in this creek again, but it had nothing to do with water baptism.  


All of us kids had loads of fun in that creek.  One day four of us were playing on a raft built for two.  That was no problem to my friends because they could swim, but for me, that became a problem.  I couldn't swim.


As the raft slowly sunk, I soon slipped into water that was well over my head.  While swallowing water, my arms and legs were frantically flying around like a blind mad man who had just stuck his nose into a hornet's nest.  My friend Ross dove down into the water to rescue me from drowning, but because of my frantic behaviour, I almost drowned him.  Ross had no prior training to know how to save a crazed guy from drowning, however, the life guard did have such training.   


After coming to my senses on shore, I was weak, exhausted, but very thankful to be breathing air instead of swallowing water.  As I lay on the ground gazing up into the blue sky, I promised myself that my dad would never know what had just happened.  If he ever found out, that would end my association with that creek.  My only exposure to water deeper than a couple inches would be our bath tub at home, and that was no fun.


Ever since the Tower of Babel incident found in Genesis 11, the Bible portrays the nations of the world and the systems they employ as being directly opposed to the rule of God.  This Biblical truth is necessary for Christians to both accept and understand as we relate to an ungodly world.  


The apostle Peter understood this Biblical truth.  In Acts 2:40 he "warns and pleads" with people by saying, "save yourself from this corrupt generation".  The apostle Paul, in Galatians 1:4, told his readers to "rescue themselves from this present evil age".  The apostle John, in 1 John 2:15 said, "do not love the world or anything in the world.  If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.  For everything in the world  - the cravings of sinful man, the lusts of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does comes not from the Father but from the world".  All three of these men of God viewed the world, the generation in which they lived, as being corrupt and something to be rescued from.  As I needed to be rescued from drowning in the creek, so we need to be rescued from drowning in the world's systems.       


The Bible has a lot to say about how God's people should relate to a sinful world.  Old Testament Israel failed miserably in this respect.  Upon entering the promised land of Canaan, God specifically told Israelis not to unite themselves with the pagan nations they were about to live among.  Israelis ignored this command.  They liked what they saw in the pagan world around them and so they embraced it.  They adopted pagan philosophies and gods as their own.  They mixed paganism with Judaism.  The men married pagan women.  Businessmen formed partnerships with pagan businessmen to increase their profits.  For these reasons and more, the paganism to whom Israel gave herself, eventually drowned her into obscurity.  Israel lost her national identity by being overrun by the pagan world they embraced.


Christians today have the same temptation.  We see what the world has to offer, and it's hard to resist.  Like Israel of old, in many respects, individual Christians as well as church groups have embraced a secular world that is becoming progressively pagan.  Through the pages of the Bible, Peter, Paul, and John, are screaming at us.  They're telling us to rescue ourselves from the strangle hold this present age has on us.  If we are deaf to these screams and fail to see the world as bad as the Bible says it is, Israel's fate will be ours.          


So what does this mean to you and I?  Should we quit our jobs, sell our homes, pool our finances, buy a thousand acres in the middle of nowhere, and hide from a horrible world?  Clearly, that's not the answer.  Jesus told us to do the opposite.  In a similar evil age, He told His disciples to "go into all the world".  As we go, we preach the gospel, we live the gospel, and we don't allow the world to influence us in the process.  We make our presence felt in the world as representatives of the Lord Jesus Christ.  


I'm not suggesting that there hasn't been times, or possibly yet will be times, for some to sell their homes and buy that property in the country.  When the tipping point of sin in a nation is reached, and God judges that nation, He might well call some to a different lifestyle.  That being said, the general rule of thumb is to go and rescue people from an evil world. 


Christians, as well as church groups, are to be inherently distinct from the rest of the world.  It should be evident to all that we are those who belong to Jesus.  This isn't a matter of adherence to man centered religious legalism.  It's a matter of how we think, how we live, who influence us, who we imitate, who we give ourselves to, who is the love of our lives, and who we serve.   As the Bob Dylan song put it in the late 1970's; "you've got to serve someone.  It might be the devil.  It might be the Lord, but you've got to serve someone".  It's our choice. 


How we work all this out is up to you and the Lord, but it does need to be worked out in light of the screams I'm hearing from the pages of the Bible.  The more we understand the Word of the Lord, the less of a hold the world will have on us.  Instead of  being a mirror image of the world, we'll be a mirror image of Jesus, as we were meant to be.  Only then can we go into all the world and be the witness we were meant to be.  

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