“They who have my commandments and keep them are those who love me; and those who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them.” (John 14:21 NRS)

Three weeks from now, we will celebrate Easter weekend, remembering that incredible turning point in human history almost 2,000 years ago when Jesus Christ, the Son of God, died for our sins and rose from the dead as King of kings with all authority in heaven and on earth. (1 Corinthians 15:1-24; Revelation 19:16; Matthew 28:18)
Many things, both good and bad, have happened over the course of those 2,000 years. The world population has grown from 200 million to 8 billion. Our average life expectancy has risen from 35 years to 72.8 years. But countless millions have been killed in countless wars, including two world wars, with 238,000 people killed in 2023 alone. Industrial and technological revolutions have put man on the moon and computers in our pockets while enabling the creation of weapons of mass destruction that can obliterate all of humanity.
As to Christianity, a Church birthed in Jerusalem with 120 people has grown worldwide to 2.4 billion people. (Acts 1:12-15, 2:1-47) However, the percentage of professing Christians in China and India, our two most populated nations, is less than 3%. The Church in Europe, where professed Christianity was once the exclusive faith for every nation, is in such extraordinary decline that two thirds of the population believe religion is unimportant. And over one third of our United States population feels the same way. The percentage of professing Christians in our nation, including those who consider faith unimportant, has dropped from 85% to less than 65% since 1990, and it continues to drop every year.
Isaiah prophesied an ever-increasing rule of the Lord on earth. (Isaiah 9:7) Jesus declared the gates of hell would never prevail against His Church. (Matthew 16:18) He who is in us is greater than he who is in the world. (1 John 4:4) So why is the coming of His Kingdom taking so long? Why are we losing ground?
The answer is simple. We don’t do what we are told.
Almost all of us can remember times in our childhood when our mother or father said, “Just do what you’re told!” They were adults who loved us, and we were in the beginning stages of learning about life. At the time, we didn’t like it, but looking back, we know doing what we were told was for our own good. And the Fifth Commandment – honoring our parents – is really a training ground for how we are to honor, love, trust, and obey God. (Exodus 20:12)
The amazing grace of God is neither a license to sin nor permission to keep living according to your own agenda. (Romans 6:1-18; Matthew 16:24-27) The cross did not erase our need to love God with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength. (Mark 12:28-34) As disciples, we are to learn and obey all our Lord’s commands. (Matthew 7:24-27, 28:20; James 1:22-25) Grace came to cover the sin that separated us from God, and it remains there for when we stumble, not when we ignore and defy Him. (1 John 1:8-2:6)
For centuries, the empire-building nations of Europe commingled faith and political ambition, subjugating their own people and their so-called colonies to their will. Subjugation is the opposite of evangelism and discipleship because it violates the law of love expressed in the Golden Rule: treating others the same way you want them to treat you. (Matthew 5:43-48, 7:12-14) Europe is now reaping what they sowed, and the Church in America must avoid taking the same blind path. (Galatians 6:7-8; 2 Corinthians 9:6; Matthew 15:14)
God tells us to make our loving obedient relationship with Him our highest priority. (Matthew 6:33; Jeremiah 29:13) God tells us to be a royal priesthood modelling the humble, selfless, serving love and goodness of Jesus to friend, stranger, and foe. (Matthew 5:43-48; Philippians 2:5-11; 1 Peter 1:9-10) God tells us to be a house of non-stop prayer. (Mark 11:17; 1 Thessalonians 5:17) God tells us: “All hands on deck”, because all Christians are to be equipped, rightly connected to each other, and doing their part. (Ephesians 4:11-16; 1 Corinthians 12:4-27)
God tells us faith works through love and that truth must be spoken in love to set people free. (Galatians 5:6; John 8:31-32; Ephesians 4:15) We are not conceding ground to evil when we do this. We are overcoming evil with good – the only “way” that works. (John 14:6; Romans 12:21)
My friends, we can hasten the day or get in the way. (2 Peter 3:9-12) For God to awaken and revive us as His Kingdom children, we need to do what we are told.
God bless you, and God bless our community.

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