Sun, May 27, 2018 05:09 AM
Wednesday, March 8, 2017 issue
The Pastor's Pen

by Pastor Jack Ward | Tomahawk Freewill Baptist Church

Charles Swindoll, in his book Growing Deep in the Christian Life, tells the true story of a man who bought fried chicken dinners for himself and his girlfriend to enjoy on a picnic one afternoon. He was in for a surprise because the person behind the counter mistakenly gave him the wrong paper bag. Earlier, the manager had taken the money from the cash registers and placed it in an ordinary bag, hoping to disguise it on his way to the bank. But, when the person working the cash register went to give the man his order, he grabbed the bag full of money instead of the bag full of chicken. Swindoll says, “After driving to their picnic site, the two of them sat down to enjoy some chicken. They discovered a lot more than chicken — over $800.” But he was unusual. He quickly put the money back in the bag. They got back into the car and drove all the way back. The man got out, walked in, and became an instant hero. By this time, the manager was frantic. The guy with the bag of money looked the manager in the eye and said, “I want you to know I came by to get a couple of chicken dinners and wound up with all this money.” Well, the manager was thrilled to death. He said, “Let me call the newspaper. I’m gonna have your picture put in the paper, you’re the most honest man I’ve ever heard of.” To which the man quickly responded, “Oh, no. No, no don’t do that.” Then he leaned closer and whispered, “You see, the woman I’m with is not my wife. She’s, uh, somebody else’s wife.” Swindoll closes the story by saying, “Harder to find than lost cash is a perfect heart.”

Unfortunately, these stories are all too common in a culture which has lost its moral foundation. Even the Christian world has been rocked by recent moral failure. John Paulk, an ex-gay who was running a Christian outreach ministry to homosexuals, recently resigned because he was discovered in a gay bar. Mike Trout, the host of James Dobson’s “Focus on the Family” resigned this month because of an extramarital affair. Jay Leno quipped that perhaps he had “focused” on the wrong family. Scandals have become so commonplace that we are cynical. We wonder if anyone lives up to what they believe or believes what they say. In fact, the Barna Research Group says that their study shows that one third of American teenagers believe that “most adult Christians are hypocrites.” The decay of culture is having an impact on the Christian community. Two things are wrong: 1. We have failed to teach the basic tenets of the Christian faith in our homes. 2. We have failed to model the Christian faith in the world. And the church itself has failed to clearly teach the fundamentals of the Christian faith and give clear definition to right and wrong. Instead, we have opted for vague notions about what it means to be nice, and made tolerance our defining doctrine.

How did we get to this place when Jesus Christ, the center of our faith, was ruthlessly clear and truthful? Whenever people confronted him, they were often stripped of their pretenses and made vulnerable by the truth with which he confronted them. They had to face the truth about themselves and the reality of whom Christ was.

When Jesus encounters us, the first thing that happens is we are confronted with the truth about who we are. Our natural tendency is to cover up and conceal the truth. We put on our mask and go about our make-believe world. We play the pretender, just as the woman at the well did with Jesus.

Jesus saw through her facade. He knew all about her sin - and he loved her. She felt his pure love for her because she was drawn to him. If she had felt condemned by his words she would have left him. But after she encountered Jesus, she went to the others in her town and said, “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Christ?” John 4:28-29.

Jesus revealed the complete truth to her and completely accepted her at the same time. Jesus will forgive our sin, but only if we face it and admit it. He will not tolerate our deceitfulness. We do not find God by pointing out our strengths, but by admitting our weaknesses.

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