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Outcasts

By Tom,

Outcasts. That is what we, as followers of Christ, will always be viewed as by the world. And they are not wrong. Scripture is replete with passages where Scripture says we are exiles, pilgrims, that this place is a temporary home. That we are set apart from the rest of the world.

For some who read these passages, they take it to mean that we are better than unbelievers.

Such hubris.

The rest of the world thinks this as well, and they don’t like it. But what the issue is that both of these people are wrong.

When one comes to the faith that is the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, it is that person submitting themselves to a life of a servant, for that is the truest and most prominent example of Christ. Christ submitted to others, stepping down from heaven to take on the form of man, and then live as a carpenter. And then, to add to it, he chose as his disciples the most lowly form of a working man and most unremarkable people of Jewish society—the fishermen.

See, when God pulls us out of the muck, it’s not because He saw anything special in us, it’s that our spirits were crying out for help, and He was there to answer that call.

God doesn’t look for the healthiest, the wealthiest, the wisest, or the strongest.

As Christ said, what need of a doctor do the healthy need? It’s the sick that needs the doctor. Take a look at the beatitudes in the Sermon on the Mount. Those are certainly not the best and brightest of any society, even if society says they deserve to be put above everyone else.

The thing is, God looks for those who are not extraordinary, but are willing to trust an extraordinary God.

Being a Christian isn’t me saying that I am better than anyone else, or even when I say that I adhere to God’s Word for my life doesn’t make me any better than anyone. Saying I’m a Christian is me saying that I submit myself and my spirit to something greater than myself. Christ submitted himself to the Father in the garden, even when he was filled with great fear. By saying I’m a follower of Christ, I am saying I put control of my life into the hands of one who has great love for me and has demonstrated that love by dying for me while I stood against him and then rising again so that I might have his righteousness imparted to me, and that when God looks at me, He sees, not my own dirty self-righteousness, but the blinding righteousness of His Son, Jesus Christ.

That is what keeps me humble and drives me to serve others. Every day, I get up and my prayer in the morning usually contains a plea for help from God to come into me, and help live for Him, and show His glory to the rest of the world, so that by how I live, they might come to know the love and grace of God.

But, as always, people ask why we need this love and grace. And the answer is always the same, and you can take it or leave it. But the answer comes from Scripture, and the reason we need God’s love and grace is to save us from his wrath and punishment which comes from having sin in our lives.

Yes, I said the “S” word—sin.

Now, some atheists (even though I believe there no such thing as a true atheist, most people would say that they’re agnostic) have said that they don’t need God to be “a good person.” They believe that all one needs is a good heart. Well, here’s the things about God that they don’t understand. They usually have statements where they try to use the Ten Commandments against followers of Christ to say that they don’t need God. Well, Jesus’ words always comes back to bite them, because Jesus raised the bar on the Scribes and Pharisees to show them what God really thought of their “righteousness” and to humble them.

“I haven’t murdered anyone” or “I’ve never stolen” or “I’ve never cheated on my wife/girlfriend” are the most common things that I hear unbelievers use to say that they don’t need God.

Well, remember the story of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector that Jesus told? If you don’t, read the following:

“He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.””

–Luke 18:9-14

See, God’s standards are higher than ours. To give examples and to answer some of the phrases I mentioned earlier…

  1. “I haven’t murdered anyone.” My question to that is—have you ever hated anyone?
  2. “I’ve never stolen.” My question—have you ever been jealous of what someone else had that you didn’t?
  3. “I’ve never cheated on my wife/girlfriend?” My question—have you ever looked at another woman/man with lust in your heart?

God says that what is in our hearts is dictates what we really are. Hatred of someone equals murder in God’s eyes, coveting equals stealing, looking with lust equals adultery. God raised the standard so high on all of us, that we have no hope of actually meeting it on our own.

The issue isn’t with trying to be a good person overall, it’s making sure that our hearts are clean before God, and asking His forgiveness when we screw up. That’s the point of the parable I shared earlier—the Pharisee was so high on himself that he couldn’t see what his own sin was, but the tax collector recognized what his sin was and turned to God because he realized he couldn’t deal with it on his own.

But God has so much grace for us that He sent His own Son to die for us so that He might reconcile mankind back to Him from the clutches of Satan. All He asks is that we recognize our sin, humble ourselves, and turn to God and ask His forgiveness and it will be given to us!!

Don’t you know that God died for you? No other faith that has so much fact to it has a deity where the god willingly gave up his life for the men, women, and children of the world.

He gave up His life for ours, how can we offer up any less than our own lives to Him and trust Him with our lives if He is willing to demonstrate His love, power, grace, and mercy to bring us back to Him.

This is why we are outcasts in the world–God pulls us out of the world, and then helps us to live for Him. Not because of anything we’ve done, but ALL because of what God did.

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