Sunday, December 29, 2013
Sinners, So Much Like Me
I have been listening to an audio by David Wilkerson called, 'The Cross and the Switchblade' and am tempted to cry when I see how God was merciful to the gangsters in New York City. As I recollect the many stories in the book, I am affected by how God moved on a man's heart to reach wayward young men and women with the Gospel message. The story of how Nicky Cruz came to know the Lord is amazing. Here is a man who was so hardened to the Gospel. Listen to his videos on Youtube. He believed that David Wilkerson came to New York City to break up the groups. As David introduced himself to Nicky, Nicky responded by telling him that he would kill David. Nicky had to attend the meetings David Wilkerson was preaching at simply because he was the second in rank in his gang, and he was required to follow the president of the group, in this case, was a young man named Israel. Israel was hungry for knowing God and ordered his gang to be at the meetings. Nicky would sneer as David was preaching. He would give cues to the others while the meeting was going on. Then in unison they would react. But one night David was desperate. He was tired of the clamor of the attendants. So, he bowed his head and prayed. Silence came from the audience and they listened. It was at one of those meetings that Nicky actually heard what David was preaching. He was immediately convicted of sin. At the end of the meeting, he told God that he was the worst sinner in all of New York, but if God wanted him, He could have him. Nicky's life was never the same. Not only that, God delivered him, over time, from the addiction of drugs. He was set free by the power of the Holy Spirit. He has been on fire ever since that time in the early 1960s. There were other gangsters who were saved. There were warlocks who came to Christ. Gang leaders were on their knees repenting before God. These were young men as well as women, who led lives of continual crime. Many were criminals simply because of their addiction to heroin, and they had to kill and steal to feed their addiction, daily. Many were in prison. Some were drug pushers. Whatever they did, it seemed like they were callous to reality. God went after these gangsters, not to threaten them with judgment, but to offer them the hope of eternal life and deliverance from their sins, which were many, and very deep. But we really are not much different than gangsters. We aren't holding people up to get money out of them so we can have the next fix, or killing people for sport. But our sins are grievous as well. I think of just my own household. Sometimes, people in my household don't get along. Sometimes, someone gets angry. We have pouted and have had bad attitudes. We have such a pull for being selfish. We forget about God. I know how easy it is to get involved in some family matter or job that needs tending to, only to be distracted and forget about God. How easy it is for me to get up in the mornings and plan out my day in my mind, and not include God in the things I do. It's easy for me to get on the computer and interact with people, then half the day is gone and I haven't even gotten to praying. I am not a legalist. I don't believe that if we forget to pray that God will punish us. But I believe God wants to interact with us, just like He did with the gangsters in New York City in the early 60s. He wants to have a relationship with us. And I spend so much time trying to get things done instead of spending time with God. Why am I so selfish? Or am I just realizing how selfish I had always been? How can I be happy in God? One of the things I have been praying for lately is for the 'joy of the Lord'. The joy of the Lord is our strength. Instead of meditating on the things that annoy me, I need to meditate upon the greatness and majesty of the Lord. The same God who pursued the gangsters in New York City, still pursues us. We are sinful just like they are, yet God is merciful to both of us. I think about how God was merciful to the gangsters. And I think about how God has been merciful to me. Only a person who has not sinned does not need God. And no such person exists for the Bible is clear that 'all have sinned' and we all fall short of God's glory. So, we can ask God to help us look at our hearts. He can show us our sins and shortcomings. The more we see our sin, the more God's mercy will be to us. This is something to think about.