A small town close to where I live has an annual 4th of July parade. Their parade is typical of a small rural community. The veterans parade down the main street followed by the police and fire department with all the lights and sirens. Clowns ride their miniature bikes and tricycles. The Prom Queen rides in an open convertible waving to the public. Children receive candy thrown to them from people on the floats. The floats represent businesses, high school sports teams, 4H club, and some of the local churches. It is the typical parade.
One such church however does not represent itself in a float. They stand at the main street in the middle of town and hold signs up and yell at the cars and pedestrians passing by. They carry signs saying “ALL SINNERS ARE GOING TO HELL”, “REPENT OR BURN”. They appear to be angry and aggressive and unapproachable. Some of the pedestrians will cross the street just to avoid them. Most will just walk on by and try to ignore them and few will confront and argue with them about either their behavior or their theology.
Mark 16:17 “And these signs shall accompany them that believe….
I don’t think these are the signs Mark was writing about. I am saddened by their lack of understanding of what the gospel is all about. Do they realize how hateful and angry they appear? Are we expected as disciples of Christ to identify sin in others and then judge them or to demonstrate the Fathers love that we have for each other. Can you really shame someone into repentance? Does the Holy Spirit use condemnation to bring us into the kingdom?
Romans 8:1 “Jesus did not come to condemn the world”
Rom 5:1 “And the hope of God never makes us ashamed, because the Love of God has been poured out into our Hearts through the Holy Spirit, which has been given to us.
Romans 2:4…..”the goodness of God leads to repentance”.
Rev 12:10 Satan is called the “accuser of the brethren “
It is the kindness and goodness of Christ that empowers us to repent. These things should be evident in our lives as we become more like Him. It is the love we have for each other which we receive from the Father through Christ -that should compel others to seek after what we should freely have to offer. We, as disciples of Christ, should be demonstrating His Name and His nature and His mercy to the world.
Who does the Father see when he looks at each of us? As we begin our journey with Christ –He will begin to show us who we are in Him and how He sees us. Do you remember reading how the prodigal son was seen by his father as he saw his son coming back home to him? As a body of believers we can stand beside and help each other become that person the Lord sees in each one of us.
Mark 16:20 “And they went forth and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word by the signs that followed.”
As we interact with those in our life– let them never wonder about our signs but….