This week, the elders of Emmanuel Baptist Church would like to share with you this blog post written by Pastor Bill Morgan of Grace Baptist Church in Schreiber, Ontario.
“If anyone among you thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one’s religion is useless. Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.” (James 1:26-27)
While in Thunder Bay one day, waiting to get my new glasses adjusted, a retired gentleman walked up to the counter where I was standing. The employees were all busy with customers so we struck up a conversation. This man had intrigued my curiosity because he was wearing a very modest but striking wooden cross, about half the size of a cell phone. I wanted to make mention of the cross and what it has meant to me these past 38 years but I held off and the conversation turned to his working career as a welder. After a few minutes of exchanging words I was taken back by the “F-bombs” that were exploding out of his mouth with every other sentence!! It wasn’t my place at that time to challenge him about the contradiction he was presenting by cursing away and yet wearing a cross. Whatever religion this man possessed was a defiled one at minimum according to what God teaches in the Bible. James states that this man’s religion is not only useless but it is also impure and defiled. James also writes that an individual like this man, in his contradiction, deceives his own heart.
This man, wearing a cross and cursing his head off, proves to me what God says about each of us and our hearts’ condition before we each became a Christian through the new birth (spiritual birth). Before we were born again, my wife and I swore like troopers and guess what? My wife reminded me that, back then, she wore a cross and I wore a medal (probably a St. Christopher medallion). So what does God say about us back then, and this hypocrite now sporting a cross? “The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked. Who can know it? I the Lord search the heart.” (Jeremiah 17:9-10) That man and all individuals need to know what the Lord Jesus Christ has accomplished for us by dying on that cross! “And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He [God the Father] has made alive together with Him [Christ], having forgiven you all trespasses, having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.” (Colossians 2:13-14)
The cross (and Christ) must first be in your heart before you wear it on your body!