Would you be a “good” citizen or a “bad” citizen?

Published 10:00 am Wednesday, September 1, 2021

BY AL EARLEY

Religion columnist

On a trip to China, I was deeply moved by the courageous faith of so many Chinese. In our country, during the quarantine, many churches have installed new cameras to broadcast their worship services for the first time over the internet. In China, all churches have had cameras installed by the government. They are used to video who attends church to lower their social credit score as “bad” citizens.  Their ability to do things, get jobs, be educated, and move about the country is determined by that credit score.  “Good” citizens get more; “bad” citizens are persecuted.  In spite of the great price it can cost someone to go to church in China, the churches are full for every service. Why do the people pay such a price to practice their Christian faith?

The Christian faith can be simply summarized as follows: Jesus of Nazareth, who is the Christ, lived for us. He healed the sick, taught about God’s love, forgiveness, and the promise of eternal life. Jesus died for us, for our sins and our salvation. Jesus rose for us, victorious over sin, death, and evil. Jesus reigns in power for us this day and forever, that we may trust him with our lives. When we believe this, we assure ourselves of the precious gift to spend eternity with Jesus. When we consider how long eternity is, it makes the battles of this life pale in comparison to the eternity God has prepared for His faithful. That is why people will pay the price to practice their faith and be persecuted for their faith in other countries. Jesus calls us to share this Good News with the world, which includes the people in our neighborhood, workplace, and family. It is the greatest story ever told.

Are you a follower of Jesus? Do you know the power of faith in your life? Do you know how Jesus’ joy and love can transform your life through faith? Do you have stories of times when life has become desperate and you have turned to Jesus and found life changing strength and hope? Do you remember times when Christ comforted you in your loneliness or depression and healed your soul? Have you ever heard or thought these words, “I don’t know how people without faith can make it when life gets hard?”

These are our stories of faith that we are to tell those around us so they can know and claim a life changing faith in Jesus Christ. God does not shower His love and healing upon us so we can simply enjoy our faith. Jesus calls us to be witnesses to the people around us, and the ends of the earth. It is a great calling Jesus has given us, whether in word or deed, or both, to share the gospel with others that they may believe in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. We read the world changing words known as the Great Commission in Matthew 28:18-20, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

If you look around your neighborhood, chances are good that 50-60% of the people who live on your street do not go to church anywhere. If you were to invite them to church they may say, “No.”  That is okay, it takes the average person 6-7 invitations before they say, “Yes.”  Your invitation is building on the number needed to move them to try church. Nine out of every 10 people join a church because someone invited them. NINE OUT OF TEN!  That means it is not the pastor’s job to reach out with the good news of Jesus Christ and build up the church. He doesn’t know enough people.  Jesus calls all of us to GO and make disciples.

Our friends, neighbors and family members need someone to invite them to church again, to share the love of Jesus Christ and welcome them home. Can you be a witness for Jesus? Can you invite them to your church? Can you pray for their faith to be re-ignited? (To find out more about Al Earley or read previous articles, see www.lagrangepres.org)