“I just learned more from you in 10 minutes,
than in all my years in CCD [in the Roman Catholic church],” Vinnie blurted out…
Vincenzo and his brother Michael are part of a 20 person team down from Westchester County, New York. For almost 9 years now, the Somers school district has been raising funds for our programs in La Carpio…and it has been a privilege to partner with them and see their enthusiasm for serving others.
Yet it is a unique team, in that only the two leaders are believers in Christ. Usually the conversations look like this: the New Yorkers keep saying that we are “angels” or “wonderful people”, and talk about the importance of helping others less fortunate than themselves. And we respond that we are simply God’s servants, working where He calls us. Whether or not we can actually help people rise out of poverty, we are motivated by God’s love to reach out to all–even enemies–and share the message of Christ’s death on the cross.
Sitting around our steaks, I was enjoying “regular conversation” with 6 recent high school and college graduates…when Vinnie started asking more and more questions about my faith, about God, about the Bible. I tried to answer honestly and directly, admitted that I could not explain everything, but that it comes down to this:
10 out of 10 people die. One death, and after that comes judgment. (Hebrews 9:27) Everyone has sinned; we all fall short of meeting God’s perfect standard. (Romans 3:23) To those who trust they have lived a good life, I offer this: the person who keeps all of God’s laws except one, is as guilty as a person who has broken all of God’s laws. (James 2:10) And those who have broken God’s law (sinned) even just once in their entire lives will go to hell. (Matt 7:21-23 among others) Which leaves us in a tough position: we are ALL going to hell??? Since we ALL fall short??? Exactly. Only God is perfect.
So God sent Himself–His only precious son, Jesus Christ. And when God-as-man died on the cross, his very perfection became the ONE, THE ONLY SACRIFICE NECESSARY. Nothing but the cross, once for all humankind. (Hebrews 9:28)
And whoever believes that Jesus was God and accepts that Jesus’ death wipes away all your sins, without any work necessary on your part, is sealed unto God, as His child forever. (John 3:16, 1 John 2:12) Nothing on this earth can then separate you from God, nor keep you from the promise of eternal life.
Back to Vinnie’s comment, “I just learned more from you in 10 minutes, than in all my years in CCD.”
To that, I say shame on the Church. Yes, shame on the Roman Catholic Church. And on the Baptist Church. The United Methodist Church. The Episcopalian Church. The Assemblies of God. The Lutheran church. Greek Orthodox. And every other church that professes the Bible as the true word of God and Jesus Christ as Redeemer of our sins, yet fails when its community does not fully understand the salvation plan so clearly laid out in the Bible’s pages.
Jesus told his followers (which also includes us): Go, announce to all that the Kingdom of Heaven is near. Make disciples, baptize them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and teach them to obey all the commands I have given you. (Matthew 10:7, 28:19) The gospel means good news, people!! Get out there and start sharing this good news–the same way you promote a book, or a movie, or an NFL team…
“Yet preaching the Good News is not something I can boast about. I am compelled by God to do it. How terrible for me if I didn’t preach the Good News! If I were doing this on my own initiative, I would deserve payment. But I have no choice, for God has given me this sacred trust.” (1 Corinthians 9:16-17)