Ever since I began volunteering in my community the Lord has given me many opportunities to share the Gospel and talk about Him. This is because the third question everyone asks me (after what part of America are you from? and how long have you been here?) is always “why did you come to Melbourne?” Once they find out I am a minister most of my unsaved friends start coming to me with all their questions about God and of course I point them to Christ while answering each one.
Many of these questions are asked and answered during a practice English group on Tuesdays for people who recently came to Melbourne and need to work on their conversational English skills. Answering their questions usually isn’t a problem but when one of the women named Bev said she had a problem with something I had said a week before I started to get nervous. Suddenly an eerie silence fell over the group and I felt like a cowboy standing in the middle of a deserted street…pretty sure tumbleweed rolled by. “You said last week that you hated religion” Bev told me “and that seemed like a strange thing for a minister to say.”
For the next ten minutes I explained to her and my other friends (all of whom where listening attentively) that the important thing in the eyes of God is our relationship with Him, to be more specific, what we have done with Jesus. Whether we have accepted Christ is the truly important thing, in my opinion there are individuals from every religion who have placed their trust in Jesus and will live for eternity with Him in Heaven.
While religion is important it usually focuses on the outer part of a person dealing with things such as dress or conduct and can easily just become a list of rules. The danger with this is individuals will care more about obeying all those rules than accepting Christ and having a true relationship with Him. Please understand I am all for teaching strong Doctrine and look forward to going through an intensive Bible Study program during furlough so the material can be taught in Melbourne. But it’s quite easy for man’s opinion or his own beliefs to become part of religion and therefore keep us from understanding what’s truly important.
When we couldn’t save ourselves God sent His son to pay the penalty for our sins and if we believe in Christ our sins will be cleansed. The one thing that makes Christianity different from every other belief system is the death and resurrection of Christ.
Religion can make us forget that while focusing on other things….and that’s why I hate it. Actually hate is probably too strong a word since many parts of the Baptist religion are precious to me. Religion isn’t really a bad thing; it’s when we make that more important than the Gospel or Christ that I become frustrated.
It was very exciting to see Muslims, Catholics, Hindu’s and those who don’t claim a religion at all nod their heads in assent when I said the most important thing is our relationship with God (through Christ). In three weeks they are holding a party for my last practice group before leaving for the States (Not sure what that means but sure there will be good food) and I plan to share with them in detail the Gospel of Christ. Please pray that I can take away everything that is unimportant and explain only their need of a Saviour, for in the end what we do with Christ is all that matters.