Using Paul's dialog with King Agrippa in Acts 26, Morley walks us through a three-part surrender today. In response to his blinding encounter with the risen Christ on the road to Damascus, Paul declared to the people in Damascus, then in and around Jerusalem, and then to the Gentiles, that "they should repent and turn to God and do deeds consistent with repentance." It provides us with a simple outline of subtraction (repentance), addition (turn to God), and obedience (do deeds).
Morley points out that one out of three adults in this country claims to be "born again," but we don't see it in our culture. The problem, from his perspective, is that we have so many who are born again through a process of addition alone. There is no repentance. There is no "subtraction" of sins from our lives. Although there has been revival and evangelism, our growth in discipleship has been missing. We have entered a "comfortable orbit" where we claim allegiance to God but still cling to our sins.
Billy Graham will be concluding his final large-scale evangelistic tour this summer. By every measure, God has worked mightily through him. Many people have heard the Gospel and many have answered. We cannot help praising God for this ministry. But now we need to fill a void. All of these people who have confessed Christ need to grow in Christ. Too many people simply answer the altar call and consider their salvation complete. There is no other change. How has conversion changed our own lives?
After Pentecost, believers met together and grew in their faith. They did good works. They became God's representatives in a world that had just been introduced to Christ and salvation by grace through faith. It was vibrant. It was exciting. In the face of persecution it was also scary, but that early faith has lived to bring us the Gospel of Truth to this day.
Our own Methodist heritage follows a similar model. Methodism began because believers met together to grow in their faith. They fed the hungry, sheltered the homeless, and visited the sick and imprisoned. They were a big part of an era that is still known as the "Great Awakening."
What would happen if all of the people who streamed down the aisles at Billy Graham's crusades continued to gather for fellowship and growth in the faith? What if every one of them fed the hungry, sheltered the homeless, or visited the sick or imprisoned? More to the point--what if every one of us did?
How are we different from those around us? How does it show? Have we turned to God? Have we given up sins? Are we obedient to God's will? Now is the time. It is time to surrender.
Dear Lord, like your believers at Pentecost, let me know your fire in my life. Like them, let me hunger to leave behind my sinful ways. Like them, let me see the needs in the world and answer those needs in your name. May I be one small part of a Great Awakening in the 21st century that not only adds your name, but subtracts my sinful ways, and reflects the change through obedience to you. Amen.
Grace and peace--