I like the term journey. God calls us on a journey to grow to maturity in Christ. Unfortunately, some believers chose to receive Christ as Savior, then only halfheartedly follow Him as Lord. Then, they wonder why the power and peace that God has promised is not manifest in their life. Perhaps it’s the unknowns of this spiritual journey that keep them from taking the next right step.
In Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, we read these words from Gandalf as he coaxes Frodo to go on a journey by borrowing these words from his Uncle Bilbo:
“It’s a dangerous business going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept up too.”
The truth is that life is a journey. We can either walk with Christ or on our own. We either follow in the Lord’s steps swept by His love and grace or take another path swept to places offering empty promises.
There’s no doubt that there is a uniqueness to each of our faith journeys. However, everyone’s walk with God ought to include at least four crucial steps. The first step is to BELIEVE. To begin a saving relationship with Jesus Christ, we must receive Him as our Lord and Savior. The second step is to learn what it means to BELONG. As we enter into a saving relationship with Jesus Christ, we now belong to God and His Church. The third step is to BECOME. To grow in our relationship with Christ, we need to discover what it means to mature in Him, becoming the person we have been created to be in Christ. The final step is BLESS. God calls us to partner with Him allowing His Spirit to use our blessings to bless others. In the journey, God calls us on with Him, we not only have this pathway, but believers are called to help others come to Christ and grow in Him as they REACH, RAISE, and RELEASE others to fulfill their God-given destiny.
Let’s look at the first step on the journey. What does it mean to receive Christ as Lord and Savior (to believe)? Also, what is the believer’s part in this sacred work (to reach)? To answer these questions, let’s look at an encounter Jesus had with a man named Zacchaeus (see: Luke 19:1-10). Zacchaeus was a chief tax collector, despised by his fellow Jews for working for their Roman occupiers and making extra money by raising their taxes even higher than the Romans demanded and taking the extra for himself. He was a very wealthy man.
We discover that Zacchaeus deeply desires to see Jesus. So, he does two things very uncharacteristic for men of his day: he ran, and he climbed a tree. These were actions reserved mostly for children. I am reminded of Christ’s word that unless one becomes like a child, he cannot enter the kingdom of God (see: Lk 18:17).
Jesus invites Himself to Zacchaeus’ house. This excites Zacchaeus but causes the crowd to be outraged. How could Jesus go and fellowship with such a sinner? Somewhere in this interaction, Zacchaeus believes and accepts Christ as Lord and Savior. Aware of the crowd’s displeasure, Zacchaeus makes a commitment to give to the poor and give four times as much as he had stolen to the people in restitution. He is not saved by these actions but acts because he is saved. D.L. Moody is quoted as teaching that “restitution is good proof of a changed heart.” In the end, Jesus affirms that salvation has come to Zacchaeus. He also shares that His mission as Christ is to “seek and save the lost” (Lk 19:10).
What can we learn from this account about salvation (believing) and reaching others with the love and message of Christ? For starters, just like Zacchaeus, we are also sinful and need salvation in Christ (see: Rom 3:23 & 6:23). We are on equal footing before the cross. We also learn that God still rewards those who seek Him (see: Jer 29:13). Remember, we need to look no further than Christ for salvation. As we explore the account, we learn that Jesus desires to have a relationship with each of us, leading to salvation (see: 2 Peter 3:9). It is a staggering reality that the God of the universe desires to be in relationship with us. The account teaches us that in Christ, we can be made pure (see: 2 Cor 5:21). When we come to Christ for salvation, a great exchange takes place. Our sin is dealt with by Him, and His righteousness becomes ours. Lastly, we learn that when we come to Christ, His mission becomes ours (see: Jn 20:21). Christians, as partners with Christ, share His mission in seeing people reached by sharing His love and message in the hope that others too will believe.
It is an honor serving Christ with each of you. Let’s encourage one another to seek people with whom we can share the love and message of Christ. Let’s leave our turf and go to theirs in the hope that they too will come to know God and make Him known. Soli Deo Gloria (Glory to God Alone)!