Did you see them? Say it ain’t so, Joe! Last week I started noticing leaves from the tulip poplars falling into our yard; then when I cut the grass there they were: walnuts under my blades. I’m anxious for cooler temperatures, like most everyone else, but it seems too early to see the lush greenery around us decaying!
God thinks so, too. Oh, it’s not the beginning of the change in seasons that He set in place originally, that bothers Him (Psalm 74:12-17); it’s the fall of humanity. When God observed “that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually . . . He was grieved in His heart” (Genesis 6:5-6 NKJV). He is heartbroken when even one of us chooses to wade into the undertow of sin (2 Peter 3:9).
Will God throw us a rope? He already did. When Peter’s faith wavered on the sea and he began to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” Who was there “immediately”? Jesus (Matthew 14:30-31). That pretty much sums up Jesus’ mission. He came “to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10)!
What do we need to do to grab God’s rope? Jesus said we need to believe in Him (John 3:16), and confess that belief (Matthew 10:32); repent of our sins (Luke 13:3); be baptized (Mark 16:16) so that those sins might, as Ananias told Saul, be “washed away” (Acts 22:16); and lastly, “be faithful unto death” (Revelation 2:10).
That last thing is the challenge. How many people, who are pulled out of the sea, decide to fall right back in? Who would do such a thing? We would!
Fortunately, God has a continuous escape-from-sin plan for every Christian. Actually, I’d say most of the New Testament was written to “keep you from falling” (Jude 24), but let’s consider a short recipe. “But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love” (2 Peter 1:5-7). If we diligently and continuously add those ingredients to our lives, we will “never fall” (1:10)!
What about “going to church”? Did you know that one of the reasons we are to gather together is so that we can help each other “hold fast” to the Rope (Hebrews 10:23-25)?
The saddest pictures I’ve ever seen are of fallen soldiers on the battlefield. What if we could see what God sees and grieves: the fallen souls whom were thrown the saving rope of Jesus to grab but they “would not” (Matthew 23:37)! I hope you’re not in that picture. Come join us at the South Stokes Church of Christ.
Jeff Greene, minister, South Stokes Church of Christ