What is the significance of the Biblical feast of Succot?
Have we reflected the Lord’s glory in all that we do … especially when others are watching?
Why would we want to see our friends, family and workmates in that queue of the condemned, at the final judgement, where God is going to look at the unrepented sin they have committed and say …
“But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars--their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death." (Revelation 21:8)
Now I don’t think we are meant to analyse this list, looking for loopholes (my sins are not in this list, perhaps I’m OK) and nasty surprises (does it mean that cowardly Christians are condemned?). The entry requirements have been made clear throughout God’s word.
That if you confess 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 confess and are saved. (Romans 10:9-10)
Since I’ve been a believer, the people who have impressed me most have been those with a real gift for evangelism. They are so single minded, talking eating and breathing Jesus and never overlooking every opportunity to witness, whatever the personal cost or potential embarrassing situation. I used to think that this was the normal Christian life, which made me feel very small and unworthy, as I just couldn’t bring myself to do what they do. And if they didn’t do what they do, many would not hear of Jesus (though, of course, God has His ways for reaching everyone, despite our shortcomings). But I still can’t do it and have learned to accept that fact. I just don’t seem to be put into those situations where I can effectively share my faith. God knows us well and uses us all in different ways.
Yet I still wonder if there was a time when every Christian was a natural evangelist. Perhaps it was easier when we lived in a country where Christianity was the dominant worldview, such as in the early 19th Century, when science and rationalism hadn’t yet made such inroads into popular thinking. Yet, if we (and me in particular) are promoting the Jesus Mindset, the return to a purer, uncluttered faith, perhaps there’s a case for … “could do better, can try harder”!?
Perhaps it would help us to think about those two queues at the final judgement. Imagine your loved ones there, shuffling slowly forwards, surrounded by murderers, adulterers, liars and sorcerers. Then think on how they found themselves in that particular queue, purely on the basis of their rejection of Jesus Christ during their lifetime. We may feel excused in that evangelism is a gift after all and the hardest people to reach are those you have known and lived with, yet there’s one aspect of our witness that we can have no excuse for; did we act out the Christian life, and how much of Jesus shone through our actions and deeds?
Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. (2 Corinthians 3:17-18)
Have we reflected the Lord’s glory in all that we do, especially when others are watching? Have we at least not provided a stumbling block, a barrier to entry, caused by a distorted reflection or one tinged with hypocrisy, detachment from the real world or just bad behaviour!
We now return to the sad story of Katherine Giles, the lady cyclist, mentioned in an earlier article. We don’t know what the state of her soul was, or how God has used this to reach others. But may we conclude our examination of this taboo subject by praying for Katherine’s family and colleagues, for a true spiritual legacy in the lives of all who have been touched by this tragedy.
For the previous article in this series, click here.
For the next article in this series, click here.
To find out about MY NEW BOOK, "Hope", click here.
You can reach Steve with any comments or questions at the Saltshakers Web Community website.