Have We Cheapened the Gospel?

“Stephen, a man full of God’s grace and power, performed amazing miracles and signs among the people.” (Acts 6:8 NLT)

Stephen was chosen among six other men to serve the needs of the growing ministry of the early Church, so the original disciples could devote their time to teaching the word of God. Stephen, as the verse above indicates, was “a man full of God’s grace and power.” Do you know anyone like that? Isn’t that supposed to describe every believer in Jesus?

We have so watered down and cheapened what it means to be a Jesus follower, when it becomes evident that someone is filled with God’s grace and power – as every believer is supposed to be, we marvel at how God uses them. We see them as “extraordinary,” yet, what God intended and what was illustrated in the life of Jesus, was that any person filled with God is more than they could ever be without God’s Spirit abiding in them.

I’m reading a devotional book which I highly recommend entitled The Indwelling Life of Christ – All of Him in All of Me, by Major W. Ian Thomas. In a somewhat embellished conversation with Nicodemus, the Pharisee who came to meet Jesus at night, Jesus says: “You are right that I am also extraordinary, but let Me tell you something: No matter how ordinary a person may be, put God in that person, and the ordinary becomes extraordinary.”

So, I ask myself and you, dear Jesus follower: Are you extraordinary? Think of what was ordinary in the first century Church. Think of Peter, even while Jesus was alive. In Matthew 14 Jesus invited Peter to walk on water, and he did! Not just Jesus – Peter! A very ordinary man. It was also Peter, along with James and John who witnessed the Transfiguration of Jesus speaking with Moses and Elijah.

Peter and the other disciples had a front row seat to miracle after miracle. It was common practice for Jesus to heal, cast out demons, even raise the dead, every day! These weren’t random occurrences, they were “business as usual” for Jesus. And remember, Jesus said He could do nothing except His Father gave Him the power.

Listen child of God, we are empowered by that same Spirit, but we cruise through life like we’re in a Prius, when God has given us a Turbo Porsche. Why? Why aren’t we – you and me – seeing people healed, delivered, and raised to new life in Christ EVERY DAY? Craig Groeschel said: “God did not call us to blend in, but to stand out.”

What better way to stand out than to let the Spirit of the living Christ loose on the people in our spheres of influence. And I can hear some of my own excuses: “O, but it might embarrass my friends.” Or “That would require a higher level of commitment than what I’m living.” Or “Wouldn’t that draw a lot of attention to me?”

Do you not see that Jesus drew attention to Himself, often embarrassed His disciples, and exhibited the same level of commitment to His Father and to His mission that we should exhibit in our life? I believe those aren’t the real issues, at least for me. You see, I read the end of Jesus’ human story on earth and it wasn’t pretty. He was nailed to a cross, the most brutal and publicly humiliating death ever conceived. But without the Cross, there can be no resurrection!

If we’re not willing to pick up our cross and follow Him, how can we ever experience the resurrected life that only comes to those willing to submit to His Lordship. Yes, of course, we can live like everyone else, but to what end? Heaven? Truthfully, for the little most of us contribute to the Kingdom of God, except for the grace of God, none of us deserve to make it.

We’ve so cheapened the Gospel most people in our spheres of influence have a hard time telling the difference between us and everyone else who lives on our street. God help us!

Food for thought.

Blessings, Ed

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