Sunday was a joyful time to be in the House of the Lord. It was a time of bittersweet transition along with the ushering in of a new season with the music ministry. We had many visitors, some previous and some first time. We had some previous members return after long absences. The Spirit was high and God truly blessed. It was a good time to be with the Zion Memorial Missionary Baptist Church Family.
As I looked out over the congregation and thought about the wonderful people that we have as a part of our church family, I wanted to see the forest, the collective, but I could not help but also see the trees, the individuals.
You see, the individuals make up the collective and the
is the church.
We come from all walks of life and while many of us are similar, none of us are exactly the same. That dynamic means that we have rich opportunities within the Body of Christ for the glory of God.
You may be wondering, what is Reverend Cain getting at?
What I am getting at is that many people make up the crowd.
When it comes to the crowd, most of us were raised with the notion of stay away from the wrong crowd. Stick to the right crowd.
And, many of us still hearken to those ideas in terms of judging the crowd - right or wrong.
But, if some of us were completely open and honest, before we came to Christ, some of us were a part of the wrong crowd. Some of us were not always saved, sanctified, Holy Ghost filled, and fire baptized. Some of us were from the wrong side of town, the wrong side of the tracks, the wrong side of the street. Some of us did things that we are still not very proud of even if we now have the courage to tell our Gospel story of how our lives changed when Jesus came into our hearts.
Now, what would have happened if God, through predestination, decided that anybody who was a part of the wrong crowd from birth or along the way could not receive salvation? Some of us, many of us, perhaps, all of us, would have been bound for Hell. And, instead, we have great joy in knowing that we are bound for Heaven and eternal glory. Hallelujah!!!
Now, beloved, if God looked on you that way and opened up this great unmerited opportunity for you, when you were a part of the wrong crowd, how should you respond to others?
Sometimes, we can have spiritual amnesia. We can forget who we were before we became who we are. And, when we do, we want to only associate with those who are a part of the right crowd, the crowd that would have rejected our former selves.
Jesus had to deal with that and Jesus showed us a better way.
Luke 15:1-2 reveals, "Now all the tax collectors and sinners were coming near to listen to him. And the Pharisees and the scribes were grumbling and saying, 'This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them.'"
Beloved, the wrong crowd can only become a part of the right crowd when those of the right crowd welcome them in. Jesus was not only a part of the right crowd; He was the righteousness of God that made any crowd He associated with right. And, those in His crowd came to save sinners, those who were in the eternal wrong crowd.
And, as Christians, should we not be about the same thing? Should we not be using our status in the right crowd of God through Jesus Christ as guided by the Holy Spirit to welcome those in the wrong crowd to give them the chance to experience salvation and new life?
If not, then perhaps it is because we may see ourselves as right and righteous but in reality it is a selective right and a self-righteousness that has little to nothing to do with God. And, if so, then we are actually not a part of the right crowd after all.
Jesus knew that all needed Him. Jesus also knew that all would not receive Him. So, He spent time reaching out to those who would receive Him so that He could bring them into the right crowd, according to God and not humankind.
May we receive the wisdom of God to seek to do the same.
Beloved, tonight we will transition in HOPE Wednesday to learning about the book of Ecclesiastes. I encourage you to come without excuse. Come and be a part of the right crowd, the crowd that is seeking to learn more about our God who loves us so much so that we can love each other even better. You come and bring someone with you from the right as well as the wrong crowd.
And, remember, God loves you and I love you too!