We live in a very religious culture. Within five miles of where I am writing this blog post there are countless churches and other religious buildings and institutions.
This is not new.
We live (and always have) in a world with many gods (little g) that people believe in. Even in my neighborhood (and probably yours) there are those religious institutions, like the Mormons and Jehovah's Witness' that will come to the door and share their own version of religion.
It can be confusing. And if it has been confusing for me over the years, think about my six year old or my three year old. So how do I (and you) explain, with clarity, what makes Jesus different than other religions?
FREE & FORGIVEN
In Acts 13, Paul and a few companions are sent out by the church to go do the work God had called them to do (verse 3). On their way they met a magician that tried to oppose them. Paul called him a few names and blinded him. He told him, "stop making crooked what God has made straight..(verse 10)." After that the proconsul (the man the magician was trying to confuse and mislead) believed the word of Paul.
Our culture, much like that magician in Acts 13, is trying it's best to confuse things. It's a clear opposition to truth.
So what makes Jesus different?
There are a lot of answers to that question that we don't have the time for but at the top of the list is this:
- Jesus came to forgive sins. (Acts 13:38)
- Jesus came to give freedom. (Acts 13:39)
Paul was asked to speak to the synagogue (verse 13-43) and at the end of his speech he mentioned..."Let it be known to you therefore, brothers, that through this man forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, and by him everyone who believes is freed from everything from which you could not be freed by the law of Moses."
The men and women in that synagogue, just like the men and women in our neighborhoods and cities, believed that they could obey the external rules of an institution/religion and God would accept them (or life will have meaning). While that might make them temporarily moral people, it will not make them forgiven people.
Forgiveness only comes through belief in Jesus' sacrifice for sin. There is no other religion that offers this possibility. We must make that clear to our families.
We must also acknowledge that sin enslaves us. It is a power that exist within us that controls us until we put our faith and trust in Jesus. There is no escape outside of freedom in Christ.
Paul says the Jews could "not be freed by the law of Moses." I know freedom is a very hard thing to explain to younger, children who don't feel like their attitudes or actions are controlled by a force, but it is still true.
As parents we can teach them that their sins come from a heart that is controlled by sin. You will have these opportunities constantly everyday. Opportunities to point out that they can never be free from sinning outside of Jesus.
Speak truth and let the Holy Spirit convict sin.
There are so many things in Acts 13 that should lead to really powerful conservations this week. But please communicate with clarity that Jesus came to forgive sins and bring freedom. Your work as a parent is really important to the Lord and his work. There is nothing greater for us to give our time to.
Josh Walker (@joshdwalker) is the co-founder and owner of One Fifty Media House, a Houston, TX based Audio and Video Design Team. He is the writer and author of music products such as Family Devo, Grammar Time and Hymns For Selena. He is married to Angela and has two beautiful children: Nathan and Charity Joy.