I’m sure you’ve probably seen the “Coexist” bumper sticker. If not, it’s basically a bumper sticker that supports the idea of acceptance. According to those who have this bumper sticker, we should be tolerant of everyone’s beliefs, no matter what religious group they may be connected with. The symbols on the sticker represent all the major religions (including Christianity, Islam, Judaism and Wicca). According to these individuals, we are all on different paths to the same place and therefore need to accept the beliefs of all others.
I have only one problem with this idea: it’s not what the Bible teaches. According to the Bible there is ONE Gospel. When Paul wrote to the Galatians, he reminded them of this point. Here’s what it says:
“I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed! As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed! For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ.” – Galatians 1:6-10 (NAS)
There is one Gospel. No matter what any other person may say, it is only in Christ that we can receive eternal life. And though the “Coexist” bumper sticker pushes for unity, it is only in Christ that we can find true unity. Jesus was called the Way and that’s exactly what He is. He’s not a way. He’s not one of many ways. He is the Way. That is where unity is found.
These ideas were also presented in a sermon I preached in chapel at Bear Valley. Feel free to listen to it here.
You don’t have to live near the Rocky Mountains long before you become very familiar with the concept of a forest fire. A small spark in the woods during the dry season can easily become a raging fire within moments. When something is that prone to fires, there’s little you can do to stop the flames.
However, did you know that as Christians we are incombustible? That’s right. We’re fire proof. Now, before you attempt to stand toe-to-toe with a forest fire like Smokey the Bear, let me explain. In the book of Daniel, three young men (Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego) stood opposed to the commandment of King Nebuchadnezzar. You may already know the story. The king had commanded everyone to worship the golden image which he had created, the three young Israelites refuse to forsake God in that way, the king lets them know they’ll be cast into a fiery furnace if they refuse and they stand their ground (for the longer and less confusing version you can turn to Daniel 3). After the king threatens them further, this is how they respond:
“If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” – Daniel 3:17-18
The three young men understood that as servants of God, they had protection from the fire. They knew that God could (and eventually did) protect them from whatever King Nebuchadnezzar would threaten. In the same way, God offers us protection when we choose to serve Him. That’s not to say we will never suffer harm in this life or that bad things can never happen. However, we need to understand that God has the power to protect us from the “fires” of this life. And, if we serve Him as He has commanded, one day God will give ultimate protection from the eternal fire that awaits those who reject God.
So strive to have an attitude like that of the three young men from the book of Daniel. If we do, God will make us IMCOMBUSTIBLE!
FYI: The idea of “Incombustible” was stolen from my brother. However, I’m fairly sure he stole it from the Bible so we’re even.
I suppose I’ve missed the New Year’s resolution boat by a week or two. That’s probably best since New Year’s resolution is usually code for “something you need to do but never will.” However, it’s always around this time that I look at things I could be doing better in my life. Without a doubt, evangelism is something that needs improvement. In fact, you could probably pull a Michael J. Fox, travel back in time to the beginning of any year and you’d find me giving that same answer. It is simply something I need to improve. If you’re like me, you could probably work on it as well.
I’m not talking about in connection with your local congregation. I think it is wonderful when churches find ways to evangelize their community through programs such as Vacation Bible School or gospel meetings; however, I’m talking about our personal evangelism on a daily basis. When was the last time you spoke to ANYONE about God or His Son? For me, that answer is not one that I am very proud of.
Did you know that when the apostles were given the Great Commission in Matthew 28:19, they fully expected to accomplish that job in their lifetime? It’s the only thing that makes sense. They traveled throughout the entire world preaching to everyone they came in contact with. In fact, before the book of Acts concludes, all of Asia had heard the word of the Lord (Acts 19:10). That’s dedication!
What does that show about our dedication today? Do we strive to spread God’s word with the same fervor? Or are we content with the way things are, hoping the generations that follow will fulfill the Great Commission instead? Unfortunately, with this attitude, there will be no future generations to preach God’s word. It must start now and it must start on a personal level. Start today by looking for one person you can talk to about Christ. Just one! If we will begin looking for ways to reach people on a daily basis, we too can have the same dedication the apostles had. Who knows? Maybe we can even reach the whole world in this lifetime. If we all work together, that’s not an impossible task.