Church Shopping: Engraved

As much as we may seek peace as the ultimate prize—Jesus reminds us it is time to wake up, to com e down from our walls that we have built up and allow God’s plan to be:


ENGRAVED (Revelation 3:4-6) Yet you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes. If you are a parent you know what it was like when your baby or toddler soiled their clothes, but the context is like what would happen if you were sitting on a park bench, only to get up and realize that it had recently been painted, your clothes would be soiled or stained, you would now bear the mark of the outside context. The church in Sardis had soiled their clothes, taking with them all the imprints of the world around them, rather than rubbing off on the world in the name of Christ.Jesus had become really small and the world had become really big. Think about how easy we can do that…Sports can get really big and Jesus can get really small. Sleeping in can get really Big and Jesus can get really small. Once a lady called me to tell me she wouldn’t be in church because she thought she might be getting sunburn. When the mission becomes enlarged in our lives—when we start wanting more of Jesus—he tells us the result….They will walk with me, dressed in white, for they are worthy. The one who is victorious will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out the name of that person from the book of life, but will acknowledge that name before my Father and his angels. Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. Jesus by saying, “I will never blot out the name of that person from the book of life” and he implies the opposite to those who have fallen asleep—they were nearing a spiritual death and would not see the kingdom of God. The ancient audience may have heard this image against the citizen registers—where those facing execution would have their names blotted out from the book of those who belonged—at the very end they had been found wanting.

This is what happened to Mickey Cohen, a famous Los Angeles gangster of the late 1940’s, after he made a public profession of faith in Christ. His new Christian friends were elated. But as time passed, they began to wonder why he did not leave his gangster lifestyle. When they confronted him concerning this question however, he protested, “You never told me I had to give up my career. You never told me that I had to give up my friends. There are Christian movie stars, Christian athletes, Christian businessman. So what’s the matter with being a Christian gangster? If I have to give up all that—if that’s Christianity—count me out.” Cohen gradually drifted away from Christian circles and ultimately died lonely and forgotten.

mickey cohen

Chuck Colson noted: “Cohen was echoing the millions of professing Christians who, though unwilling to admit it, through their very lives pose the same question. Not about being Christian gangsters, but about being Christianized versions of whatever they already are—and are determined to remain. (Charles Colson, Loving God) I came across a salient message on a church sign a few years ago, it was short and too the point: “The world is watching to see if Christians are any different.” Instead of coming to a God who requires nothing, offerings nothing, can change nothing, we today have the opportunity to seek the face of the one who has changed everything. For to be sure, he was crucified in weakness, yet he lives by God’s power. Likewise, we are weak in him, yet by God’s power we will live with him 2 Corinthians 13:4

In Christ, for the first time, we get to be who we were created to be instead of just playing the role of who we’ve become. That is what we want for you here at WGCC, that you don’t have to settle for past determining your future, or spend your entire life trying to build a wall up that will protect you only to find a chink in the armor, but instead find in your weakness the power in Christ to live with him.

It was April 29th, 1999. Cassie Bernall was in the library studying over her lunch break. When the shooting started she was confronted by an unimaginable position—two deranged gunman demanding an answer to a question that would reverberate through society for years to come– “Do you believe in God?” posed by one of the shooters. At one point in life she had wrestled with that question, she had struggled through other ideas and beliefs, but on that day after committing herself to Christ she answered, “Yes, I believe in God,” “Why?” he mused rhetorically without giving Cassie a chance to respond as he pulled the trigger. Cassie 2 days before her death wrote these words:

“Now I have given up on everything else — I have found it to be the only way to really know Christ and to experience the mighty power that brought him back to life again, and to find out what it means to suffer and to die with him. So, whatever it takes I will be one who lives in the fresh newness of life of those who are alive from the dead.” Although she was dead in the flesh, she was very much living!

Her answer was “YES,” what’s your answer going to be? Sleeping through the question isn’t an option.


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