Monday, March 2, 2009

Week of Prayer for North American Missions: The Heat is (Not) On

Our heat stopped working last night. And it just so happened that it was one of the coldest, or at least it felt like it, nights of the year thus far. I thought winter was almost over, but last night I was reminded that it is still here. We woke up at 4 in the morning freezing and our 4 1/2 month old son was crying just as cold. The three of us spent the rest of the night under the covers in my wife's and I bedroom under a number of blankets.

I am no mechanic and could not figure out what was wrong. I did know that we had plenty of propane still in the tank. Like a dunce, I kept going downstairs to check on everything as if I knew what I was doing.

Coming morning, we called for help and help came. Thankfully, as I type these words, I am warm, and so is the rest of the family. Life is good again.

But all day today, I couldn't help but thinking the spiritual aspect of this event. My family were hopeless doing the best we could and yet it wasn't enough. No matter how many covers we threw over ourselves, we were still cold. We even put mittens on our sons hands to keep them warm (he does not like to have his arms swaddled or under any covering whatsoever!). I certainly wasn't much of a help to my family. We were desperate and alone.

It wasn't until the repair men came to fix the problem. At that point, we returned to the way things used to be. But it took someone else, someone prepared and qualified for the job. The harder I tried to fix the problem, the worse the problem got.

Salvation is much the same.

We as sinners can try all we want, but we will never fix the problem we face: estrangement from a holy and righteous God. Things were going great in the Garden, and then we messed it up. Ever since then, the history of man has been one attempt after another trying to fix "the problem." We turn to politics, law, liberty, selfishness, money, anger, pride, greed, religion, community, family, friends, philosophy, education, and anything else we can. But they all fail in the end.

No matter how hard we try, we can never solve the problem ourselves. We must, therefore, rely on someone else. Someone from the outside. Someone who is capable to fix the problem. And when it comes to our fallen nature and our rebellion against our Creator, Jesus entered the scene to fix the problem.

Christ was fully God and fully Man. Therefore, He qualified as a perfect sacrifice. He was perfect and without blemish. Therefore, He was not tainted with our problem. Christ came down on our behalf, dying and paying for a punishment that should have been ours. He took upon Himself our sins so that one day, we might return to what we once were.

That's the gospel.

This week, as we continue to pray for missions let us not forget that one undeniable truth, the gospel must be preached without compromise, without watering it down, and without shame or fear. The gospel is the only hope that we have. Apart from it we are lost, hopeless, and left to destitute trapped in our game of "I-can-do-it-by-myself-ism.

Therefore, let us pray, first and foremost, the gospel. Let us pray that our children will grow up and obey the gospel. Let us pray that we will be faithful to the gospel. Let us pray that our culture and each individual in our culture will embrace the gospel. And let us pray that each of us, including the missionaries we pray specifically for, remain faithful without diluting to the gospel of Christ.

But without it, we will all be left out in the cold.

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