WHAT SHOULD OUR FOCUS BE?
Our focus should be on loving and serving God. Our aim should be that of going to heaven when we die. Many are focused on material things. Even in religion the focus is on entertainment, show and fun; instead of on God the Bible, truth and service. God is unimpressed with "the show of religion" which seems so important to man. God is impressed with simple, humble, love and obedience from the heart. He said, "You are My friends if you do whatever I command you." (John 15:14) We should all study our Bible and do what it says. Tradition, elaborate services, complicated organizations and endless ritual consumes the religious thinking of many. God warned, "Beware of the scribes, who desire to go around in long robes, love greetings in the marketplaces, the best seats in the synagogues, and the best places at feasts." Many Scriptures are violated continually by man's desire for show, ceremony and entertainment. Our focus should be on the simplicity of New Testament Christianity.
We should focus on our need to be saved from sin. Salvation is necessary because of man's "sin problem." What is sin? We sin when we do not follow what is written in God's word. "Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness." (1 John 3:4) Sin is a matter of choice. Infants do not inherit sin from parents. (Ezekiel 18:20) Satan makes sin so enticing that all have been overcome by its power. "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." (Romans 3:23) Sin brings pleasure. But, the pleasure of sin lasts only for a short time. Moses chose, "rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin." (Hebrews 11:25) Sin breaks fellowship with God. "But your iniquities have separated you from your God; and your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear." (Isaiah 59:2) Sin is often taken too lightly by the world, and also by the church. Sin causes God to turn His face from us. The Bible reveals the seriousness of sin by showing its consequences. Sin causes spiritual death or separation from God. This separation exists in this life, but it will exist in an even greater way in the life to come.
We should focus on God’s plan for our salvation from sin. Faith is the beginning point of all acceptable service to God. "So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." (Romans 10:17) Our faith in the sacrificial death of Jesus is the motivation for all our obedience toward God. "But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him." (Hebrews 11:6) Repentance is required as well. Repentance is a change of mind or heart that results in a change of life. "The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to usward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance." (2 Peter 3:9) Confession of faith in Jesus as Lord likewise plays a part in our salvation. (Romans 10:9-10) A simple confession of one's faith in Jesus as Lord and Christ is a necessary step in conversion. The final step in becoming a Christian is baptism into Christ. Every command of God is important and baptism is a command of God. (Mark 16:16) The New Testament plan of salvation is a simple plan; let us focus, understand and take action!
We should focus on worship that is in spirit and in truth. Those who became Christians in the first century assembled for worship steadfastly or regularly. They understood the commandments of God to worship in spirit and in truth. Those that fail to worship as God commanded will die spiritually. Worship is of such importance that God will punish with vengeance those who willfully neglect it. "For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God." (Hebrews 10:30-31) Communion is part of true worship. Jesus gave His body and blood on the cross to provide remission of sins. If it was not for Jesus' sin-offering we could not have fellowship with God. (Matthew 26:26-28) Bible Christians prayed together. Prayer is our communication with God. "Pray without ceasing." (1 Thessalonians 5:17) Singing is also a part of worship "in spirit and in truth." "Saying, I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee." (Hebrews 2:12) The only instrument to be used is our "heart." Original steadfast worship also involved giving. "Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him." (1 Corinthians 16:2) Give with gladness because you can never out give God. Bible Christians heard gospel preaching. "And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight." (Acts 20:7)
We should focus on reaching out to help those who are in need. Jesus said, "You have the poor with you always." (Matthew 26:11) Any day that we would chose to do so we can help others. Jesus went about doing good. (Acts 10:38) Let us follow His example. There are people who are in need. Christians should show them the love of God by assisting then to have their needs fulfilled. (Ephesians 4:28) Our focus should be on others. "Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith." (Galatians 6:10) Proverbs 14:21 is a great principle that is still true today. "He who despises his neighbor sins; But he who has mercy on the poor, happy is he."
We should focus on evangelism. The life blood of the church is evangelism. Jesus said, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.” (Mark 16:15-16) Men and women who have committed their lives to the Lord must be motivated by love, to share the gospel with others. "And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also." (2 Timothy 2:2) Soul winning puts purpose and meaning into Christian living. "Those who sow in tears Shall reap in joy. He who continually goes forth weeping, Bearing seed for sowing, Shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, Bringing his sheaves with him." (Psalm 126:5-6) You have learned the truth. Now, go and tell others!
Our focus must be on New Testament Christianity. The practice of Christianity is a pure and simple expression of our love and devotion to God. God is pleased with sincere, simple love and devotion. Will you appreciate Jesus enough that you will receive Him as your Lord and Savior? To become a Christian you must hear the gospel (Romans 10:17), believe in Jesus (John 8:24), repent of sins (Acts 17:30), confess Christ as Lord (Acts 8:37), and be baptized to be saved. (1 Peter 3:21) The new life in Christ is a glorious and hopeful life!
By Charles Box, Walnut Street Church of Christ, 306 Walnut Street, Greenville, Alabama 36037