A Montrose Church Advent Devotional by Pastor Rick
Advent Day 17: Concerning Jesus
Today's reading: Acts 28:23-31
Paul was under house arrest in Rome but the last verse in the book of Acts says that Paul was, "preaching the kingdom of God and teaching concerning the Lord Jesus Christ with all openness, unhindered" (v. 31). He didn't speak about Judaism. He didn't speak about Christianity. He didn't speak about the Church. He spoke about Jesus.
The great missionary to India, E. Stanley Jones, once wrote of a conversation that had moved him deeply. He wrote,
A friend of mine was talking to a Brahman gentleman when the Brahman turned to him and said "I don't like the Christ of your creeds and churches." My friend quietly replied "Then how would you like the Christ of the Indian road?" The Brahman thought a moment, mentally picturing the Christ of the Indian road - he saw him dressed in Sadhu garments, seated by the wayside with the crowds about him, healing blind men who felt their way to him, putting his hands upon the heads of poor unclean lepers who fell at his feet, announcing the good tidings of the Kingdom to stricken folks, staggering up a lone hill with a broken heart and dying upon a wayside cross for men, but rising triumphantly and walking on that road again. He suddenly turned to the friend and earnestly said, "I could love and follow the Christ of the Indian road” (E. Stanley Jones, The Christ of The Indian Road, page 32).
Isn't that exactly what the apostle Paul is doing in Acts 28? It was Jesus who people needed, and not simply the system built up around Him. It was the kingdom of God people needed and not simply theological constructs developed around Jesus. And, it is Jesus you and I need. Is it too bold to say, "Nothing to the left; nothing to the right. Jesus only." This is not to say that what we think and believe is not important. It is to say that Jesus is our message. In Bethlehem so long ago, God didn't send words. He sent a baby.
Jones concluded by saying, "Christianity must be defined as Christ, not the Old Testament, not Western civilization, not even the system built around Him in the West, but Christ Himself, and to be a Christian is to follow Him" (p. 26).
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