Wednesday, April 15, 2009
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When I meet people who went to elementary or high school with my wife, they tell me she was shy. I didn't know her then, but I have found that very hard to accept. From the time I met her at a Christian college, she was vivacious, she was outgoing and she was confident. I've asked her about this seeming contradiction. She actually says that both descriptions are right. In her secondary school years, she lived in the country with parents who gave her a lot of love and courtesy and spiritual wealth, but who didn't have much of what our world calls wealth. So, she lived in a home without the conveniences that many of her friends in town would consider basic. She didn't have money to spend on clothes or makeup, so she felt a little self-conscious in a campus world that was so much about the way you dress and the "stuff" you have. But when she got to a Christian college, suddenly everything changed. Here's what she said: "For the first time in my life, the playing field was level."
I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Level Ground."
That's exactly the way God intended for it to be in His family, in His church, a level playing field where all that external junk the world judges people by just doesn't matter. It's the kind of environment in which people can blossom and unleash all the beauty and giftedness that God has planted in them.
In Galatians 3:26-28, our word for today from the Word of God, the Lord says, "You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus...There is neither Jew nor Greek (that's racial differences), slave nor free (that's class differences), male nor female (that's discrimination based on gender), for you are all one in Christ Jesus." I wonder if your church feels like that kind of place, your youth group, your Christian group. That's how it's supposed to feel!
The culture of money and power and fashion and social groupings is supposed to stop at the door of the Church of Jesus Christ. I hope it does at yours. None of that stuff matters to Jesus. The world has its "power elite" and its "insiders and outsiders." Don't let that cancer infect your church. People need to come into a group of Christians and feel level ground; a warm, sincere welcome, no matter how they look, no matter what they have, no matter what their background. Anything less is a shameful contradiction of everything Jesus is about - grace - unconditional love. Remember, "Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart" (1 Samuel 16:7).
Years ago in a large, fashionable church, two people came down the aisle to give their lives to Jesus Christ; one was the governor of the state, the other was a maid. The pastor said it all when he looked down at the people at the altar and said, "The ground is level at the cross." It really is, but maybe only at the cross. It may be that you have spent most of your life feeling like you were on the bottom - the outsider. Maybe even Christians have let Jesus down in how they've treated you. But I want to let you know today that you can come to the cross and find there Jesus, the Son of God, who thought you were worth dying for. He knows everything about you, and He loves you. And He's waiting to welcome you into His family.
I want to encourage you today to go to Jesus and say, "Jesus, I thank you for your accepting, unconditional love, and I am ready to accept that love for myself. I believe you died on the cross for all the junk of my life, and I come with all the junk, and all the doubts, and all the baggage and bring them to your cross; thanking you that you have never turned one away.
Our website has helped a lot of people begin that relationship. I would encourage you to go there today. It's YoursForLife.net. Or I'd be glad to send you my booklet Yours For Life if you'll just call for it toll free. It's 877-741-1200.
Today you could be welcomed into His family.