Sunday, March 19, 2017

Contest Entry!

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Hey, everyone!  I'm here with a quick announcement:  I've entered the Faith Radio Writer's Contest again this year, this time with a submission called Althea's Choice.  Only the top ten fiction and non-fiction entries with the most reader votes will be judged by the official judge's panel, and since my entry is kinda last minute, it's doubtful I'll get far.  But if you guys would like to go check the story out and (if you would) give it a vote, you can find it here!  

Thanks in advance to any who decide to vote.  :)  Share it with your friends and family and we'll see how far this story can get!

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-Emmarayn Redding

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Relevance of the Church

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People online are always full of opinions.  Fairly recently I saw someone post an opinion that really stuck with me.  It was on the "relevance" of the church.  This is the gist of what they said:

"If the Christian Church does not revise its views on homosexuality, other religions, and other contemporary issues, they will be irrelevant within the next ten years."

The person was, of course insisting that the church needs to adopt and endorse the above mentioned issues or become extinct.  The comments on the post were mostly hearty agreement from the secular community, and awkward fumblings from the few Christians who saw fit to respond.

But honestly, my first thought when I read the post was, "If that's the  case, we're already irrelevant.  And yet, we never will be."

See, the Church (note the capital 'C') is not about what is relevant.  We're not about acceptance of popular or common opinion, we're about God.  We're not out to please people or provide a feel-good atmosphere. We're not here to be a big open house with cookies and coffee for everyone.  We're here to honor God.  God is the one who decides right from wrong, so it's His opinion we care about- not the World's.  

The World has already decided that homosexuality is cool, and that other religions are just as viable as Christianity.  They've already decided that the highest morality you can follow is your own opinion.  What's good or convenient or inoffensive for you personally is what goes.  So in that sense, yes, the Church is already irrelevant- we don't matter to them.  We don't match their ways.

But we never have. 

We are called to be separate.  When you take on the Name of Christ, you leave the ways of the World behind you to live a life that's pleasing to Him.  Why?  Because the ways of the World only lead to one place:  Eternal Death.

The Church is relevant because everyone on this planet is in need of a savior.  If you're alive, you're already fallen.  No matter how good or how bad we live our lives, we will never be good enough to get to Heaven on our own.  God knew this, so God made sure there was a way we could be saved anyway-  He Himself took our punishment.  When He died on the cross and rose again, He paid the deadly, bloody price that our sinful nature demands.  Because of His sacrifice, we no longer have to be enslaved to the things that dishonor Him.  We can be free, and we can live forever with Him in Heaven, rather than having to face the punishment of Hell.

This is a hard message to swallow for a lot of people, so if you're reading this as a non-Christian person, bear with me for a moment. 

When a Christian tells you that you're sinful and you need to repent, that's not an insult.  We say it out of love, and a true desire to see you safe!  Sin is something that afflicts us all from the moment of our birth.  We're so used to it that by the time we're actually old enough to think about it, we hardly even notice it.  That's why God gave  us the Law:  that is, the 10 Commandments.

It's a simple set of rules, or so you'd think.  But no human being on EARTH is able to keep every single one of them.  Not even the most annoyingly shiny-perfect person you know.  The Law isn't a checklist for us to complete and earn our way into Heaven, it's a mirror to show us how much we need a Savior.

God is Holy.  So clean, so pure we can't even comprehend it.  So perfect that even what seems like a slight infraction to us is really a deadly crime in comparison to His standards.  Things that seem right and desirable to us are dishonorable to Him.  I understand what it's like to love your sin, and to wish that it was acceptable, believe me.  I've experienced the deep shame that comes of being told that you're wrong and that you need to change.  It doesn't feel good.

But then again, neither does taking that nasty cough medicine.  It's miserable, it tastes awful and it stays with you for a while, but in the end, it helps you overcome your sickness.  God's laws do NOT feel nice.  Following His ways is the most difficult thing you will ever do.  And if it wasn't hard enough to follow through on your own out of a desire to please Him and stay safe, the World makes it harder by despising you for trying.

People are always screaming about how their way is right, and God's is wrong.  Christians are not and never have been popular- at least not when they actually do what God says to do.  I'm not talking about the "social christian" who goes to church, smiles at everyone and does nice things.  I'm talking about the people who love God desperately and know that they are not good enough on their own.  I'm talking about the people who have placed their trust in Jesus and try daily to live according to His words, regardless of their success rate.  I'm talking about those who place God's standards above their own, and above the rest of the world.  True Christians must do God's will even when it means giving up things which are dear to us, a concept which is foreign the majority of society today.

These people are not popular.  They are not "relevant" according to the World's standards.  But we are according to God's, and that's what really matters.  Jesus's sacrifice on that cross has made it so that we can relevantly, legitimately approach God and be justified before Him.  

In closing, the Church will never be relevant when it comes to matching the popular morality (or lack thereof) of the world.  But it will always be relevant when it comes to your eternal, everlasting home.  God has provided a way for us to be safe with Him forever, if we only will listen and submit ourselves to His Way, the Only Way that is right.

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-Emmarayn Redding