On this Good Friday, we set our hearts and minds to remember the selfless act of Jesus giving His life for humanity. There are some who struggle with the premise of Jesus’ death and resurrection. To a non-Believer, the account appears to be a bit absurd and obscene. Christians will want to provide a compelling argument against this perception to the non-Believer. When we examine the Scriptures regarding the introduction of sin and the ultimate removal of sin, we can then understand and appreciate Jesus being the answer.
Sin can be defined as anything that violates the ideal relationship between an individual and God. Sin was introduced in the Garden of Eden through the act of disobedience. This caused a ripple effect of corruption resulting in physical and spiritual deaths which allowed Satan to have dominion over all that God had given to man. The old sacrificial system used for the atonement of sin was insufficient. There are no deeds or enough burnt offerings that we could offer to God the Father to protect us from His wrath. Jesus was and still is the answer.
The entry of sin, the answer to sin, and the ultimate removal of sin all have one common component – a tree. Through the act of disobedience, Adam and Eve ate of the forbidden fruit from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil ushering sin into the world. (Genesis 3:1-6 KJV) We celebrate Good Friday because Jesus provided the solution to sin by dying on the tree. (Acts 5:30 KJV) We anticipate the ultimate removal of all sin in eternity through the Tree of Life. (Revelation 22:1-3 KJV)
The fact is that what Jesus endured for humanity was absurd and obscene, yet necessary. The absurdity was the arrest, trial, conviction, and sentencing of Jesus. The obscenity was the mockery, brutality, and crucifixion of Jesus. Sin separates us from God the Father placing us in spiritual darkness (or death). Before the crucifixion, our Heavenly Father saw the absurd obscenity through our sins. After the resurrection, God sees the shed blood of His Son that covers the multitude of past, present, and future sins.
The “Pursuing Jesus” pamphlet is very similar to the “Following Jesus” pamphlet. “Pursing Jesus” is a revised, more contemporary version of “Following Jesus” geared towards appealing to the youth. The layout, format, and overall design is edgier and more colorful. The length is the same. While still scripturally based, there are less scriptures while maintaining scriptural references and has more of a questions and answers layout.
While I do appreciate that this has been designed with teens in mind, the graphic design and fonts used would not give you the impression of Christian pamphlet at first glance, but something that you would see to advertisement a secular Halloween flyer. The font used for headers appear as scratches in blood red color. The cover display a female face that is pale with wide horizontal stripe of red across the eyes and a wide vertical stripe that comes down the middle.
The same questions used in “Following Jesus” are used and sometimes re-worded in “Pursing Jesus.” As in the previous pamphlet, there are suggested scriptural references provided for memorization. As I have been seeking content for my Teen Sunday School class, I wanted to review both products. Initially, I believed “Pursing Jesus” was a continuous of “Following Jesus.” This is not the case they are virtually the same product. Overall, I prefer “Following Jesus” over the “Pursing Jesus” pamphlet because I like the layout, format, and overall design better for teaching. Both products are good for introducing New Believers to Christ. I would recommend it be used in small group settings to facilitate discussions about what it means to be a Christian.
Examining Romans 12:1-2, the Apostle Paul addresses the Body of Christ regarding true and proper worship. He encourages the Believer to consider God’s compassion and blessings toward us. For this reason, we should offer God something very precious – ourselves. Being a living sacrifice means to present our daily lives as an offering to God. We must reverence God in all that we do. Actively seeking God by keeping our minds focused on Him and His Word allows us to be transformed. We are called not to conform to the traditions and ideologies of the world but to live according to God’s will and purpose. With God to guide us we are empowered and equipped as God’s perfect will for our lives unfolds.
The Apostle Paul states “to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.” Loyal devotion is what we should desire to give for His mercy toward us. For our sacrifice to be pleasing to God we must present our offering according to God’s standards. Our attitude and the way we present ourselves before God is vital. This is perfectly illustrated in Genesis 4:3-5 as it recounts the offerings of Cain and Abel. This was the first act of worship after man’s fall. Abel presented before the Lord the “fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock.” Cain, on the other hand, offered yield from his farm. Abel’s sacrifice received God’s approval and was pleasing to God. However, Cain did not receive the favor of God. Why?
Hebrews 11:4 (NIV) says, “By faith Abel brought God a better offering than Cain did. By faith he was commended as righteous, when God spoke well of his offerings. And by faith Abel still speaks, even though he is dead.” Abel presented an offering of atonement acknowledging that he was a sinner deserving death but hoping for mercy through his sacrifice. Abel’s offering was through an act of faith and being a true worshipper. Cain presented an offering of acknowledgement and thanksgiving. Cain did not submit an offering as an act of faith but from the force of education or natural conscience. When we read further, we learn that although God rebuked Cain’s offering Cain was given another opportunity to present an offering.
There were two key causes to the rebuke and rejection of Cain’s offering. Cain was disconnected from God -lacking a true relationship. Cain did not have the right attitude in his worship. Proverbs 21:27 (NIV) says, “The sacrifice of the wicked is detestable — how much more so when brought with evil intent!” Cain’s reaction to God’s rebuke would indicate that Cain’s attitude was wrong from the start. When Cain’s sacrifice was rejected by God, Cain sulked and became angry. Cain’s sin was not in his sulking or anger. Cain had a choice to correct his attitude in presenting offerings to God. Yet, he chooses to take out his anger on Abel in murder. One of the most important lessons we can learned from Cain’s life is to present our offerings by faith, with the proper approach, and in reverence to God.
We are no longer bound to the old sacrificial system because Jesus paid for all of our sins on the cross. Yet, the requirements for presenting our offerings have not changed. We must worship God according to what He commands in His Word. God alone is worthy of our worship; therefore, He should be our focus when we worship. Like Cain, God gives us the opportunity to reevaluate ourselves. Do we desire to worship God for the right reasons? Do we present our offerings by faith or out of tradition? Are we the true worshippers that God seeks?