It's called Soul Survivor in that I've always been intrigued by the "Survivor" TV show and it's "mirror" of how the church works.
I'm not claiming to be orginal about the title: Soul Survivor. Many church leaders have used it recently.
In fact, Philip Yancy wrote a book entitled: "Soul Survivor: How Thirteen unlikely Mentors help my faith survive the church."
I recommend that book as a companion for this series. Not only does Mr. Yancy credit such church leaders as Martin Luther King Jr., Henri Nouwen as individuals who led him back to the church, but he also includes people such as poet John Donne and Mahatma Ghandi.
It's a very interesting book!
Post Modern – Pre Christian…
I'm intrigued by the fact that sociologists are calling our age the "post modern – pre Christian age.
Post modern in that all the things of the modern age are being questioned in a non-linear, anything goes kind of way.
Pre-Christian in that the society today looks a lot like the society the early Christians found themselves in: surrounded by idols, people searching for meaning but not being satisfied.
A very hedonistic, self-centered time that was also very economically successful.
Which is why the Survivor series is so fascinating.
It's our society in a nutshell, all competing for one million dollars.
For me, the church is different from the Survivor TV show in that instead of getting rid of people, the whole purpose of the church is to
bring people in.
Instead of competing against one another for immunity, everyone is given immunity as soon as they start through the love and forgiveness of Christ.
And instead of a shrinking cast of characters with only one star, everyone gets to be star and live in the heavens with God.
You could even say that our Tribal council, our weekly worship, is where people get to join in and become part of the family, instead of being sent out to be alone.
And the reward challenges and immunity challenges?
Well, they are changed into birth events and big feasts called Baptism and Communion, where everyone gets a place at the table.
In fact, we get the rewards FIRST, and then we are challenged to live like Christ.
It's just one such "Baptism/New Life" challenge that Philip and the Ethiopian faced in Acts 8:26-40.
It's a time of persecution and the Ethiopian is a "marginal Jew."
He finds this rich and powerful Ethiopian, returning to his kingdom (also known as Sheba) in the outpost of society in Africa.
He's probably a Jewish convert but still an outcast as a Eunich. Or perhaps he's one of a group called "God Fearers."
"God Fearers" were intrigued by the one God of the Jews, followed some of their laws, but were not bound by all the expectations and rituals.
The Eunich is traveling along, wrestling with the Prophet Isaiah. Philip points out that Jesus Christ fits the description of the Messiah that Isiah uses.
Philip basically said to him: "There he is. There's the answer to you longings and questions in life."
And out of that 1st Century search, Jesus Christ became the answer that filled the emptiness in life, the hole in our heart that society always leaves empty."
The Eunich said: "Here's some water. Can I be baptised?"
When I talk about baptism and becoming a Christian I often point out it's five most important aspects.
1) Forgiveness and washing away of the past.
This is the most awesome part of Baptism. That our guilt and shame for what we have done in the past is washed away. We can live in joy and promse, filled with hope and strength.
It's not that the consequences of our actions are erased. We still have to make amends.
But now we can do it with a forgiven heart that is able to claim a victory over all that is around us.
2) Adoption: into the family of God. We become one in the body of Christ.
Baptism provices us with the entrance into God's kingdom. We become brothers and sisters with each other.
We are joined into a reality that's deeper and larger than any of us can imagine.
3) A new name: Christian.
We carry that name where ever we go. We are Christians: followers of Christ, trying to live up to a higher standard of life than the world offers.
4) Branded… with the cross.
The instrument of death has become for us a sign of life. If Jesus had come today we might be wearing small electric chairs around our necks.
5) Taught: to disobey the world. For we want to obey God first.
We look to God and judge the world by God's standard. Not the other way around. And we want our children to learn about that moral compass as well.
We have an opportunity to witness a Baptism today, an adult baptism as well as the membership of four people into our church.
And I invite everyone to take this opportunity to remember and renew your Baptism as well. And join in to become a Soul Survivor.
(If now is the time to give your life to Christ, please do so in a simple prayer. And be sure to contact one of our church leaders so that we may help you become closer to God and stronger in your walk with Jesus Christ.)