WHY AM I A CHRISTIAN

The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, because He hath anointed Me to preach the Gospel to the poor; He hath sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captive,and to recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised (LUKE 18:4).
As thou has sent Me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world(ST.JOHN 17:18).

The story of Jesus' return to His home town to preach strikes a response note in the heart of every preacher and every layman, for most of us have been in the pulpit or pew on similar occasions. While our experiences have not been as violent as that morning service in Nazareth many years ago, we have felt the tensions and recognize the problems. It does not take too much imagination to enter into this experience of our Lord.At the beginning, everything went well, no doubt, He was a fine young man with an excellent voice and most pleasing personality. He had a great text-one of the most familiar, from one of the greatest of the prophets. One can almost see the congregation settling down for a good sermon and a pleasant period of quiet. This they said unto themselves this is going to be all right. Then everything went wrong. For the young preacher did not come to the usual conclusion, but shook them awake with His quiet comment: This day is this Scripture fulfilled in your ears(LUKE 4:11). And as He went on to explain what He meant, they became even more angry until they would have thrown Him over a cliff if He had not escaped from them.
They could not believe the Spirit of the LORD would be on someone they knew. This young man who had grown up among them and was the son of their neighbors must be suffering from delusions of grandeur if He thought Isaiah was talking meant Him. We can hardly ever believe the boy next door is a genius or that the man on the next block may be a leader in his field. But the main cause of their anger was Jesus' announcement that He intended something definite. His teaching was not to remain vague and general, which meant that He had come to waken people to their specific obligations to God. If this kept up, then people would be uncomfortable and perhaps they might even be driven to sacrifice. There was a good chance that such a religion would upset established orders. They took what seemed the easy way to a solution-they became angry and drove Him from their midst
We have not changed very much in 2000 years. For the vast majority of Christians, religion remains a hopelessly vague affair. Ask the average church member what it means to be a Christian and you will soon see that it does not mean anything precise. They will probably murmur something about the golden rule, or list a few negative virtues, but they will show no sense of mission. We argue definitions and we ask academic questions about conscience, but we seldom proclaim that as Christians we have been sent to do specific things. Science needs more Spiritual guidance and Christians needs more scientific exactness.
It is time we asked what it means to be a Christian and why we are Christians. We must turn back to Jesus and find out what He conceived His task to be. There is no clearer statement than the program that He announced in Nazareth when He read from Isaiah. It must follow then that we are to imitate Him or, as the Fourth Gospel says it, He expects us to send us forth to do what God had sent Him to do. After all when we say we are Christians it means to be Christ like. Let us then think about these things.

GOOD NEWS TO THE POOR!!!

First of all the Christian program is to preach the good news to the poor. This is to say that the Christian is always concerned about the welfare of his brethren, even as Jesus made the service of men the center of His ministry. The Church can easily forget this eternal thing, but it is being constantly brought back by the Saints who appear often enough before us. The true Christian sees people differently than the man of the world describes them. Jesus does not look at the poor man as one who lacked riches, but He pitied the rich man who lacked humility. There is a strange reversal of values when we see our brothers and sisters through the eyes of Christ, and the farther we go from Him, the greater the contrast between the New Testament viewpoints and ours.
One can observe how far removed from this preaching Good News to the poor we are when modern sects talk about reaching key people. There was not a key person to be found among those whom Jesus called first to follow Him. We must confess that the Church has become to a large degree, a middle class institution, valuing respectability more than virtue. Let us keep going back to Nazareth and hear our Lord say, I have come to preach GOOD NEWS to the poor.
This is not to assume that a Christian has a prejudice against the rich as such.The Christian view recognize the dangers of wealth and it warns against those dangers. But it is committed to looking on men as an ends in themselves and it must regard each man, regardless of social or economic status, as of eternal worth. Its Good News is to men as men and its social question is, what do men need and how can we fill their need? Jesus is not inevitably on the side of the poor, but He is usually on their side so far as the New Testament record is concerned, because they are usually the main victims of injustice, and are most in need. The man who can see his fellows only between the blinders of his own class and condition is not yet a true Christian. He will have to learn how to enter into his brother's suffering with his imagination and see his brother as God sees him.
I am a Christian because I have been called to bear witness to the truth that all men are equal in the eyes of God, in the eyes of Jesus Christ and in my eyes. I have been commissioned to preach this Good News to all men, but especially to the poor.



RELEASE TO THE CAPTIVES

Jesus was not speaking in a prison and trying to comfort men behind stone walls and iron bars. He was speaking to men who had the usual constraints of society on them, as well as the humiliation of being a province of the Roman Empire. They were probably not so free as we are, but in a day when international tensions force our government to interfere with both our public and private affairs, there was no tremendous difference between that day and this. At any rate, Jesus was not speaking primarily of political freedom nor was He describing an anarchical society. He was talking about freedom from the prisons we build for ourselves and the chains we forge for our on wearing. There is no captivity so serious and hopeless as the ones we create out of our own ignorance and fear. To these captives, and that means to all men, the Gospel comes to proclaim release and, as a Christian, I ought to be a freeing agent in my community.
Christianity sets men free from their ignorance and prejudices. The whole history of the Church has been a story of the founding of educational institutions to enlarge men minds. It ought not to be forgotten that Christianity is the Mother of education and that the great universities of the Middle Ages were founded under the guidance of the Medieval Church. There have appeared from time to time men who thought they served God by pronouncing a curse on new knowledge, but such men only betray how easy it is to mistake one's own ignorance for God's will. Christians are to cut straight across the lines and help men to meet as men and not as members of particular vested interests. Men need to be saved from the prisons their societies encourage them to build, and they need to be freed from their narrow thoughts. If Christians are not proclaiming release to such captives as these, let them ask if this is not what their Lord did and commanded His followers to continue doing.
I am a Christian because God in Christ promises me and all men power enough to live freely. There is hardly any experience more wonderful than learning that the wild and fearful evil which runs loose in a man's heart can be controlled and a man be set free from its rule. The need is to get out of ourselves and be released from the narrow boundaries of our own egos. THIS IS WHY WE ARE CHRISTIANS !!!!!

RECOVERY OF SIGHT

The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, because He hath anointed Me to preach the Gospel to the poor; He hath sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captive,and to recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised (LUKE 18:4).
As thou has sent Me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world(ST.JOHN 17:18).

The healing miracles of Jesus have been subjects of long sometimes bitter debate. A scientific generation has little patience with matters unprovable and often dismisses them as of little importance because they are an embarrassment. It is easy enough to dismiss all the miracles in the Bible if one assumes that miracles contradict reason and are therefore impossible. If you have a person like Jesus about, you will have miracles taking place ( we are to be like Jesus and do what Jesus did if we are Christians), That as a matter of fact it would have been more astounding if there had been no mighty works and no unexplainable happenings. He healed the brokenhearted, and made the blind to see.
We need not labor this point, for it is certainly true that God has taught men how to make many of the blind to see. The Church through out the years has been bringing recovery of sight to the blind. Yet, it should be maintained that a greater miracle than the recovery of sight to blind eyes is the recovery of sight to blind hearts. We meet people who literally are unable to see their brothers because of hatred and pride. There is no sense in talking to them about brotherhood until a miracle to restore their sight can be performed. The blind man who can not see the sun is in no more need of an operation than the man who cannot see the light of God in the face of racial or social minorities. Men cannot be forced to accept what they cannot see, and sometimes we try to storm the citadels of prejudice when we ought to be patient instruments in the hands of God, opening blind eyes and letting in the light. When enemies are reconciled and brotherhood is established across the barriers men have built, let us never doubt that we are in the presence of miracles and Jesus is repeating His ancient ministry of bringing recovery of sight to the blind. To be a Christian is to be a part of this process of eliminating blindness.
An executive committee of a community was in a meeting. One of the reports was an expose of the manner in which some of the derelicts along the waterfront were obtaining money from one of the social agencies and spending it for liquor. There was a wave of righteous indignation that rolled across the meeting that these ungrateful beggars were treating city charities in such away. This had to stop and something drastic done about it. Then one of the members stood and spoke: I do not condone it, but I am troubled at the anger this has caused. A few days ago, one of our members of the board of directors was indicted for income tax evasion, which ran into the hundreds of thousands of dollars. A few months ago, one of the respected leaders of the community committed suicide because his accounts were short at the bank. Neither of these things aroused the anger and indignation which these poor, lost, defeated men have created. Yet their misappropriation of funds has been pennies compared to the hundreds of thousands that these two fore mentioned cases. Does respectability justify crime, while loss of all social status magnifies it? At least someone on that committee was ashamed of himself because his eyes were opened to his own blindness, and that was a healing miracle.
A man who was dying spoke these last words; Pull up the shades so I can see the world! I don't want to go home in the dark. And in our dark world we need to pray that God in Christ will take away the shades from our minds and spirits that the light of the Holy Spirit might shine upon our hearts and guide us. We stumble down the dark road of destruction because we cannot see. What a great thing it is to know that One still walks the roads of our life to bring recovering of sight to the blind. WHY AM I A CHRISTIAN!!!


TO SET AT LIBERTY

Jesus announces that he had come to save the oppressed from their oppressions. At the heart of the Christian experience there is not an example but a Savior. You cannot divorce the faith of the Christian from works, but you must never begin with the works, for they are results and not causes. Until our hearts are cleansed, we cannot produce clean actions. A man once asked Sir James Simpson, the great Scottish surgeon, what he considered his greatest discovery. The questioner expected it would be something in the scientific realm-probably one of the doctors contributions to medicine. But the answer was: My greatest discovery is that I am a great sinner and that Jesus is a great Savior. That is the chief revelation which comes to any man and it is the most precious possession of the Christian.
He set us at liberty from our fears. Most men are afraid, sometimes of things they recognize, but usually of unseen, hazily analyzed terrors which creep in on them the moment they are off guard. No one ever comes to know Jesus Christ without being convinced that God is concerned about his life, and no man's life can ever be the same if he believes that underneath him there are everlasting arms. No man can ever be afraid of the future, as he once was, if he knows it is in the hands of God. Doubt and fear are closely allied and the conquest of faith creates confidence.
He sets at liberty from the oppression of loneliness. No generation has been more a victim of isolation and the fear that comes from it than ours.The cities of America and of the world are full of people who are nearly desperate because of their a loneliness. They are unrelated with any living fellowship and true friendship is not a part of their experience. They meet people who are acquaintances, but they do not know one single person to whom they confess their loneliness and their fright. They have the haunting certainty that no one really cares for them, and if any disaster overtook them, no would share their sorrow. It is a sad travesty on our civilization that, at the moment it provides the most amusement and glitter, it creates the most emptiness of spirit. It is for the Christian to set these people at liberty. It is for the Church to remember that is not primarily an institution, but a fellowship-indeed, the only real fellowship left. Let the Church learn that this is the way to earn affection of the masses too, and set about lifting the oppression of fear.
The Gospel is to set men free from social injustice and corporate slavery. In a day when the comfortable are afraid of change, there is terrific pressure to silence the prophetic voice of the Church and silence the social concerns of Jesus. When Christians begin to prefer the status quo over justice, they have lost sight of one significant part of their purpose. When we begin to hint that the Kingdom of God is synonymous with any economic or political system, we only portray our complete misunderstanding of the Gospel. As long as their is discrimination and an unfair distribution of the burdens of society, our Lord will expect us to be there fighting for the right of those wrongs. The Christian has the advantage over other men in that he can ignore labels and go through smoke screens to the heart of the human situation. For under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, he allows the path of injustice and righteousness, not only in his own life, but in his society.
Why am I a Christian? Because Jesus Christ has preached good news to the poor and commissioned me, who am very poor, to preach to my brethren that good news. Because He has released me from my captivity and sent me forth to release all men. Because He hath opened my blind eyes and given me the power to bring recovering sight to the unseeing. Because He has set me at liberty from my oppression and called me to be freeing influence for everyone. He has brought me life. What Jesus does for people is He changes the prosaic rules of ethics into a new song which has marching power and fills the heart with joy. It is this golden extra, this unspeakable glory, which makes Christians certain that, in Christ, God has given them His best.

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