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Hope Beyond Religion (12 of 14)
I Peter 5:1-4
God often uses very colorful people to deliver His message. The Scriptures name a number of them: Elijah; Hoseah; John the Baptist. Colorful people were not just left to old times, but they exist even in current times. Charles Spurgeon: His works are both helpful and insightful. At the age of 21, Spurgeon was called to New Park Street Baptist Chapel in London, where he served until he preached his last sermon on June 7, 1891. He lived from 1834 to 1892. It was not uncommon for him to preach to as many as 6,000 people in his congregation. Despite all his strengths and noble accomplishments, a great deal of criticism was leveled at Spurgeon in his day. Like Martin Luther, he seemed to thrive in a storm. He was criticized for a number of things in his preaching. The two things he was criticized for in his private life are curious: First he loved a good cigar! One of my favorite stories goes back to an occasion when a man called on him and criticized his cigar smoking. Spurgeon's response was: "When I take this to an extreme, I will stop." When the man asked: "What is an extreme?" Spurgeon replied with a twinkle in his eyes: "Two cigars at one time." The other was a private criticism leveled against him and his wife because out of their own funds they purchased and enjoyed an extremely large home on sizeable acreage. The American Press arrived on the scene and exaggerated the report on their home.
You see, religion has the possibility of forcing people into a mold – trying to make you fit a set of parameters that were never defined by God, but were defined by man. As one person put it: Religion is man's search for God, but faith in Christianity is God's search for man. There is every temptation for God's people to fall in line, get in step and follow the cadence of our times, and in so doing, we will become unauthentic, boring, predictable and very religious. ...
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