Summer brings a host of family reunions and other gatherings. Many churches have "Homecomings," during which they talk about and remember the "good old days." More than once the phrase "that old-time religion" is passed around. Of course, what most folks actually have in mind is the faith of their parents and grandparents, what they knew as a child. That kind of religion is not old enough. What we need today isn't the old-time religion of a generation ago, but of millenia ago. What does the author of Hebrews tell us about the real old time religion?
I. The Old-Time Religion is a Religion of Daring
Abraham was a man of daring and courage. By faith, he stepped out and became a pioneer for God, though he didn't know where he would end. He was willing to go where God led him.
Have you ever watched a dog pull on the leash, wanting to go a different way than you want him to go? You may be leading him to warmth, food, love - but he ignorantly pulls away from what would actually be his own good. Much as we do when God opens opportunities for service; we pull back to what is safe, known, comfortable.
II. The Old-Time Religion is a Religion of Sacrifice
Moses had access to all the wealth and pleasure of his age. He had luxury, power, influence; he "had it made." Yet he left it all to follow God. He chose to be a servant rather than a prince.
Do we have anything to sacrifice? What about our time we guard so jealousy -- and give God so little of? What about the talents He has given us, or the financial resources of which we are stewards?
D. T. Niles told of meeting some Christian students in East Germany who, in high school, faced a decision; unless they resigned membership in the church youth group, they would not be allowed to sit for final exams. With no exams, there would be no college, no professional career. They need not give up Christ or the church, just the youth group. Some church members encouraged them to do it, but practically each refused. They were willing to pay the price with their future careers rather than compromise their faith.
III. The Old-Time Religion is a Religion of the Cross
Though the people wanted to make Jesus a king, He opted for a cross rather than a crown. There He purchased our redemption.
We, too, are called to take up our cross. What is a cross? A cross is not mere misfortune or suffering that may affect us, but it involves suffering on behalf of another. To bear my cross I must be committed to Christ, to want for others what He wants, to try to love them as He does. To bear my cross is to exhibit the kind of love Jesus showed at Calvary.
The Old-Time Religion isn't about songs or buildings or style of worship. It is a living, vital relationship with Christ. "It was good enough for Moses ... It was good for Paul and Silas" the song says. Is it good enough for you and me? (JMD)