Saturday, March 6, 2010

Living in an out-of-control world

As Paul discoursed on righteousness, self control, and the judgment to come, Felix was afraid and said, That's enough for now! You may leave. Acts 24:25

Paul went all over the Roman Empire preaching the grace of God and the salvation that comes only through faith in Jesus. He was quite emphatic about God’s mercy, both in his arguments and in his letters. We are saved by grace alone. So why, when defending himself to Felix, did he speak of righteousness, self control and the judgment to come? Why didn't he speak of grace?

Maybe Paul meant to portray himself as a lawful citizen, not a troublemaker who would stir up Felix’s territory. Maybe he was trying to tap into whatever moral sentiment had attracted Felix to his Jewish wife. But a likelier reason one that is very relevant to our times is that Felix was a Roman, largely unacquainted with the law and satisfied with the options of the Roman pantheon. The empires religion had numerous patron gods to pick and choose from, most with their own easy morality. In such a lifestyle, grace means nothing. Conviction must come first. Righteousness, self control, and judgment must be taught.

What does grace mean in our society? Our generation? In the minds of those who are convinced of their sinfulness, it is like a refreshing oasis of relief from a dry spiritual desert. But for those who have embraced a fuzzy, relative morality the 'whatever you like' ethics of our age, grace means nothing.

Why would a generation that has defined its own easy standards need a merciful God? What is there to forgive? That's why we must live in a way that conveys Gods purity not holier than thou judgment, but a radical, sacred, change of lifestyle. Instead of fearing that our friends will respond as Felix did, we should rather fear a generation that has lost any concept of sin. Self control is a foreign idea in our society.

Live in a way that makes your friends, family, and co-workers want what you have. Live in a way the your life will stand apart, and your world just might see its need for God.

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