The last few days have been incredible. There's nothing like seeing God at work. It's one thing to just hear about it, but to see it...priceless.
On Sunday a man entered our church totally intoxicated. I mean, really bad. He walked up the center aisle shouting, "I don't want to drink no more!" He repeated this over and over. He went to the front of the church and fell on his knees before God. It was both heart wrenching and beautiful. He needs to be delivered, he needs Jesus, I thought. He knew where to go. At the foot of the cross.
If I remember correctly, outside the gate and outside the camp in the scripture above was in effect demeaning. Jesus was crucified with criminals...they were not worthy of being within the gates of the city. In the Old Testament sacrifices were made by all God's people for the atonement of sins. Animals were sacrificed and the blood sprinkled on the altar for this atonement. It was an act repeatedly done because sins were never forgiven. It was done outside the camp. But Jesus came to be the once for all ultimate sacrifice that anyone who would come to the cross in repentance would be saved. And to add to all His humiliation, it was also outside the gate.
Like this man, this is how we all need to come to the cross. Kneel before the Lord broken before God and cry out to Him for the forgiveness of our sins. If we think we don't have sin, God will reveal it...often, but not always, by bringing us to the very place this man was, broken before God. Broken. Only when we are broken, with only one place to go, like to the Lord, will we see Him for the Savior He is.
We can think we have no sin. But we are all sin filled. And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful; (Romans 1:28-31) Ouch. If we have done any of these things, or broken any of the commandments, even though it might seem petty, we have sinned.
So, two days later we hear the report that one of our deacons went to visit this man. The place where he lives has security locked doors. It was unlocked! He walked in and found this man's room and his door was also open. What our deacon saw was amazing. He did not look like the man we saw in church. It is believed he encountered Jesus. What he needs now is someone to guide him and speak encouraging words to him, love on him and teach him about the what Jesus can do...and has begun to do...for him. And this is being done. Praise God.
Our church is one of those who do not believe in turning away those who Jesus calls a sinner, just because they don't look like they belong in a church. These are the people that do belong in church. Jesus welcomed all people. He woos us all but it's how we respond to His call. Are we so proud as to think only the drunkard, the murderer, the vile need Jesus and that we do not? It's all about going to Him, giving ourselves to Him and letting Him forgive us of our sins so we can be called holy,
righteous and children of God.
I look at Jesus' death outside the camp, in a way, as it not being about the building, about the denomination or church. It goes beyond that and is not confined to a building. It's about Jesus only. He will meet us anywhere. He will meet any person of any nation, tongue, creed...not just certain ones. He wants ALL people to come to Him. What an amazing God! There is not one greater than another. Only Jesus is greater. We all come to Him from the same place, that of sin filled individuals.
Prayer abounds for this man. He needs God's strength and power for him to completely overcome his need for drink. Yet it is still a decision he must make to constantly rely on the Lord and we have a very evident enemy not wanting yet another person to trust wholly in Christ. The enemy says "Does God really say that?" Yes, He does.
I pray for God to do a mighty work not only in this man, that he would be an amazing testimony of God's healing power, that God would be glorified in this man's life, but for all who think they have no sin, that God would present to them the truth that He proclaims in His Word. It's about dying to our own and society's beliefs of what is right and wrong and realizing what God has pointed out.
If you are a believer and you feel led, please pray for this man. God will know who he is. I think of the old hymn, At the Cross. Hear these words:
At the cross, at the cross where I first saw the light,
And the burden of my heart rolled away,
It was there by faith I received my sight,
And now I am happy all the day!
I want to end with this scripture. Remember Jesus calls us to Himself. Have you heard Him call? Have you responded?
Mark 8:34 - When He had called the people to Himself, with His disciples also, He said to them, "Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me."