Thursday, April 1, 2010

You Took my Place

A few Easters ago, my family and I were joined by some bi-annual church going friends for morning service and a brunch to follow.  The parking lot at church and sanctuary were running over as they  usually are at Christmas and Easter.  Once inside, the service was incredible as the Holy Spirit seemed to fill the deepest crevice of every heart.

A bit later as our group met up at the restaurant for brunch, the following conversation took place:

"What an incredible service, the music, the worship, the message, one was better than the next"  started one Church Regular.

"And the crowd?  Good grief that was insane trying to get in and out of the church not to mention the parking lot" added Bi-Annual Number One.

"Yah, the parking was brutal. Your church members were pretty aggressive when it came to getting out of there.  I almost got hit and ran over by several anxious to get to lunch I guess", replied Bi-Annual Number Two.

"Yah" with laughter Bi-Annual Number One chimed in, "and I bet they had that little fish symbol or better yet," haaa, haaa "a whole school of little fish on their bumper".

The Bi-Annuals were having some fun now.

I asked our guest how were they so sure it was the regular church membership behaving so poorly and not some folks like themselves of the twice a year crowd? 

That led us into a conversation about Believers can't claim perfect, just salvation by God's grace and anyone claiming to be otherwise is admittedly a hypocrite.

Sadly, I had to concede, we as believers all too often set ourselves up for such criticism when we brand our bumpers, t-shirt and handbags, mistakenly believing no one should hold us to a higher level of accountability, when they really should.

Believing friends, you may have read the following story before, even so, with another high attendance Sunday upon us, take another look.

One day, a man went to visit a church. He got there early, parked his car and got out. Another car pulled up near the driver got out and said,

'I always park there! You took my place!'

The visitor went inside for Sunday school, found an empty seat and sat down. A young lady from the church approached him and stated,

'That's my seat! You took my place!'

The visitor was somewhat distressed by this rude welcome, but said nothing.

After Sunday school, the visitor went into the sanctuary and sat down. Another member walked up to him and said,

'That's where I always sit! You took my place!'

The visitor was even more troubled by this treatment, but still He said nothing.

Later as the congregation was praying for Christ to dwell among them, the visitor stood up, and his appearance began to change.

Horrible scars became visible on his hands and on his sandaled feet. Someone from the congregation noticed him and called out,

'What happened to you?'

The visitor replied, as his hat became a crown of thorns, and a tear fell from his eye, 'I took your place.'

When you read this, say a prayer.

Ask the Lord to circumcise your heart, that you may yield to the Holy Spirit's urgings as we get too centered on self and cease seeing the greater good and glory God might reveal through us in these situations.

Instead of focusing on self, focus on Him; then share a smile and give gentle answer and shine your Light that whole world all may see Him in you!

He took our place!

Hallelujah, I'm so glad He did!

            Happy Easter!

"The LORD your God will circumcise your hearts and the hearts of your descendants, so that you may love him with all your heart and with all your soul, and live"    Deuteronomy 30:6


Leah @ Point Ministries said...

Well, just ouch!! What a great reminder, Tammy. We all need to be reminded that we are representative of the King of Kings. Thanks for the post. See you soon.


Cindy said...

So thankful that He loved me enough to take my place. And you are right, if we profess to be a follower of Christ, we should be held to a higher accountability.

Have a Blessed Easter,