I went to a concert tonight with my friend Sherry. It was slightly outside my comfort zone; I think you would classify the music as folk, which is not my usual style of music. It turned out to be a ton of fun, but one of the more interesting parts of the night happened before any of the music started.
Sherry and I got there early, and went into the small lobby of the building. Standing by a table finishing our coffee and hot chocolate, the people who had been standing about the room began to form a line. Sherry suggested we get in line too. The move from hanging around to standing in line required maybe six steps, and Sherry turned to me with a smile and quipped, "It doesn't take much."
"It doesn't take much." My first thought was either, "There's something about God in there", or, "Wow, that would make a great blog post." Leaving it at that for the time being, a little ways into the concert the question finally came to mind, "What exactly does that have to do with God?"
In Acts chapter 2, Peter gives a great speech on Pentecost about Jesus being the Messiah, and states rather forcefully that the people he is speaking to killed Him. Convicted, they ask him, "Brethren, what shall we do?" Peter answers in verses 38 and 39, "Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself."
That is an amazing passage. The people crucified Christ Himself, and what are they to do? Repent. Be baptized in Jesus' name, and they will receive the Holy Spirit. This promise is for as many as the Lord will call to Himself.
You: Repent. Turn away from your sins. Be baptized. God: Saves you. Forgives you. Gives you the Spirit. It's even God who has called you. For all that you receive... it doesn't take much of your own effort.
In Luke 3, Christ hasn't even begun his ministry yet. John the Baptist is preaching, rebuking a crowd, saying things like, "Indeed the axe is already laid at the root of the trees; so every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire." The crowd seems a little concerned, asking, "Then what shall we do?" John's answer?
Starting at verse 11: "The man who has two tunics is to share with him who has none; and he who has food is to do likewise." To tax collectors: "Collect no more than what you have been ordered to." To some soldiers: "Do not take money from anyone by force, or accuse anyone falsely, and be content with your wages." Bear good fruit for God. Do works of charity. Do what's expected of you. Repent. And that leads us right back to Acts.
It doesn't take much.
This idea is really hard for me to accept. I do struggle with a lot of sin, and so I feel a lot of guilt over not being repentant, not turning back to God. But if and when I do, do I realize that it doesn't take much? That God asks me to keep turning to Him, to treat others with love, to do what's expected of me in my job and my family, and to trust that it is He who forgives, He who saves, He who promises. That for me, it doesn't take much. Jesus has been crucified and raised from the dead. What's left for me to do but believe? What's left for you? Does anyone else struggle to accept that when you turn, ask forgiveness, and believe, the rest is taken care of? What keeps you from coming to God?