21 September 2012
Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God. John 1:12
Some people are driven to a place of refuge by the storm. Others come gingerly as though they were picking out a spot for a picnic on a beautiful summer day. Yet unlike either of the two I mentioned, others grow up with a sense of "God has to be bigger than I am" and embrace Him as comfortably as they breathe clear air on a summer morning.
In times of need people often make deals with God--at least they make proposals to Him--like, "OK, God, tell you what I will do. If you will just get me through this dark valley, I will give you my heart, and I'll serve you. I really will," they affirm. The sickness passes, the financial tragedy is averted, the marriage is saved. Then what? That all depends on the strength of their resolve.
Thousands of people can look back to a time of great difficulty and say, "I was driven to God by what happened. Though I really didn't know Him or love Him, God undertook for me." They date their conversion experience to the crisis that eventually passed.
If God has undertaken for you, and you want to get to know Him, here's how to do it. The first thing you need to do is to know that you have made peace with God, that you have embraced Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. Get a Bible and start reading the Gospel of John. Notice that John 1:12 says, "Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God."
If that's what you did when you cried out to God for refuge and for help, then draw a line in the sand, mentally speaking, and say, "I receive not only God's help, but His Son, Jesus Christ, as my Savior." There's a difference between accepting God's help, and embracing His Son as your Lord.
Step number two is to discover that being a Christian involves a relationship--not a membership. The church isn't a club you join, or buy your way into. It's a fellowship of people just like you, a “Sinner's Anonymous.” None are too bad to go in, and none are so good they needn’t enter. This, of course, means you need to find a church.
People ask me, "What church should I attend?" That's a tough one because it isn't the brand on the outside that counts, but what's inside. One of the first shocks to new believers is the discovery that people who go to church aren't perfect. They have failures, moral lapses, and the same kind of problems you see in the world.
It's amazing, however, how quickly new believers get a sense for right and wrong as the Holy Spirit gives you a witness that what you hear is in accord with God's Word or out in left field. Does the pastor teach and preach the Bible? Or only what he thinks about it? There is a difference.
Then get involved in a small group. Almost all churches have them, where you get to know people personally, where you can share your thoughts, your burdens and needs, where other people can pray with you and encourage you.
A closing thought. A log burns the brightest when it is in the fire with other pieces of timber. Take it away from the rest and the flame starts to go out. Get to know the Shepherd who saved you in your time of need. Learn that He has a purpose and will for your life, and that by walking with Him you will never be alone. That's good news in a bad news world.
Resource reading: John 1.