2019-11-18 Walked Right Into That One.

“And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name
under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”
Acts 4:12

This past week, there was a Christian group that invited an out-of-town speaker to address the topic of Islam. Apparently, this fellow must be well known is some circles because he created quite a stir in the community. For weeks, the newspapers have been hit with letters denouncing the group that invited the speaker. The message was clear – this group or the speaker did not represent the feelings of the community at large. At least that seems to be the message that the opinion writers and the newspaper appeared to suggest.

I did not go to the presentation, so I can’t tell you my opinion, but the local paper had the largest article about it that I have seen in the time I have been here. I guess it was their way of making sure they fairly represented all sides. I can’t tell you whether it changed any minds or not. I doubt it.

One of the big issues that I read was that the meeting was held in a rented space of a public school. I’m not so sure that this was really the issue because neighboring communities experienced the same uproar when speakers like this were invited to speak at churches. It’s not the venue; it’s the content.

Here’s the rub. This guy named Jesus creates a stir. He always has, and he always will. This speaker was portrayed to represent a lunatic interpretation of Christianity, as were those who invited him. I’m sure that their delivery could have been polished better and seasoned with salt, but, no matter what, Jesus is always controversial.

At least it is when the full scope of his life and message is presented. Certainly, there were many – including those who were very concerned of things of God – who labeled the disciples as troublemakers who misrepresented God. In fact, they got to the point that they felt the disciples had to be killed, just like their leader, Jesus.

Acts 5:28 saying, “We strictly charged you not to teach in this name, yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and you intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.”

Let me go on the record that the god of Islam is not the God of Abraham, Jacob, and Isaac. Islam strictly denies the deity of Jesus. So does Judaism, as do all the other religions of the world. And, if we are to be brutally honest, the same is true with a significant portion of those who label themselves as Christian. I don’t know the statistics and am not going to bother to look them up, but a huge percentage of Christians do not believe that Jesus is the only path to heaven.

Yet, if we look carefully at our bibles, we see the exclusivity of Jesus. Can’t get around it.

How, then, are we to conduct ourselves? The world certainly doesn’t want us to use public space to share this message. And, truly, it doesn’t really want us to share this privately amongst ourselves, either. What then? Well, what do we see as examples in the bible? For this for example:

Acts 4:19-20 But Peter and John answered them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.”

Judge for yourselves and act as the Spirit leads you. This doesn’t give us license to act outside the scope and teaching of the bible, but it doesn’t give us permission to shut up and hide, either. Some will be more public than others, certainly. Remember that the gospel in biblical times was shared in public and in private, in front of crowds and one-on-one. Why should it be any different today? Don’t forget, it wasn’t popular then, and it won’t be today or tomorrow, either. Still, it is a message that cannot be snuffed out.

John 7:37-38 On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’”

Be strong and have courage.

Father, encourage your children and embolden them to share the gospel, “for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, ‘The righteous shall live by faith.’” Amen.

Copyright © 2019 Scott Powers

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