When I was a kid, the roller skating rink was the place to be. In the town where I grew up, that rink was called Roller King. I had and attended many birthday parties at Roller King. One particular activity I always think of when I remember those times at the rink is dancing to the Hokey Pokey. About every hour or so, the d.j.s would gather everybody on the rink into a large circle so we could do the Hokey Pokey. "That's what it's all about!" we would shout as we clapped and danced in our skates. It is a nonsensical song, to be sure, but that phrase plays over and over in my mind every time I recall Roller King.
In the month of December, we took a bird's eye view of history, narrowing in on a small sampling of stories and people from Scripture to examine God's work in bringing about His redemption plan. We saw a God who has been actively engaged in His creation since the very beginning as He has worked to restore all that was lost in the Fall. He has always been benevolent and kind, choosing the unlikeliest of people to glorify His Name and redeem humanity. Intimately tied to His followers, God knows the struggles we have always faced because of the sin condition. Amazingly, our God has invested Himself so personally in our redemption that He sent His Son to be the ultimate worker of our salvation.
And now we must ask ourselves, for what purpose has God acted? To what end has He worked this magnificent redemption story in history? What is it really all about?
All across America, people gather every Sunday at their local churches. In these churches, every Sunday, people sit stale, bored, and lifeless. Empty words are uttered in song from callous lips and adulterous hearts. Scripture falls upon ears that do not hear, and people eagerly depart from these services to feed their bellies and get on with their days. A greater number of people in America call themselves Christians, yet they don't even set foot in their local churches but maybe a few times a year, and this is typically out of obligation.
There are those more committed, of course, those who love God and want to follow Christ on a daily basis. But even these are often caught in a tail-spin with the struggles of life and the ideals of our culture to lead happy and comfortable lives. Self-help books and websites and the latest social media trends consume our thoughts. The purpose of knowing God is often confused with the consumer mentality of what God can offer us.
Is that really what it's all about? Is this why God sacrificed? So that we could move aimlessly through our empty religious practices without changing our entire lives?
The good news is that the answer to these questions is a resounding "NO!" God's redemption plan involves a restoration far beyond what we are living. He calls us to so much more than an eternal life that starts at the moment of death. There is power in the name of Jesus Christ, a power that can radically change us now.
In the book of Acts, we see the movement of God as He unites, equips, and ignites His people to call the nations unto repentance in the name of Jesus Christ. We find men so changed by Jesus, that when they are charged and threatened by the authorities to no longer speak in the name of Christ, they proclaim, "Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard" (Acts 4:17-20).
Authentic faith. Genuine allegiance that makes much of Christ. That is truly what it is all about. As we start this new year, we will begin a study on what genuine faith looks like. When Jesus said, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life," what did He mean by "believe" (John 3:16)? When the apostle Peter proclaimed "Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins," to what was he really calling the people (Acts 2:38)?
Join me as we look at how genuine faith begins, what it looks like, and where it should take us!