First Presbyterian Church

302 Summit Street | Winona, Miss. | 662.283.2487


Where No One is Worthy

Posted by Ryan on September 11, 2017 at 3:05 PM

   Recently someone said to me that he didn’t feel worthy to go to church and that his being there would be a farce, since he didn’t feel like he belonged in church. His outlook is not all that uncommon among people.

   Especially in a town such as ours with its many historic and beautiful church buildings, it is easy to fall into a line of thinking that church and worshiping God are only for people with their act together, who are worthy to sit in such awe-inspiring edifices.

   But while the grandeur of the architecture of many church buildings is designed to reflect the majesty of God who is worshiped when His people gather there, the building’s beauty says little about the people who worship in that place.

   In fact, every Christian church is filled with people who do not deserve to be there; no one who is in worship on a Lord’s Day morning or evening or midweek meeting is worthy of coming. After all, it was Jesus who said, “I have come not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance” (Luke 5:32) and “…the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19:10).

   Rather than looking within ourselves to see if we are worthy to worship, we must look to what Christ has done for His people and offers to undeserving sinners. Only when we recognize our lack of worthiness and our undeserving can we have any access to God in the first place.

   If we are looking to ourselves to try to see if we are worthy, we will never be worthy. And those who think they are worthy of worshiping are the least ready to stand before God! Jesus didn’t come to save good people or righteous people, but to save sinners who have no worthiness whatsoever. Jesus came to call unworthy sinners to leave their sin and come and worship Him in all of life: Romans 5:8, “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

   Church is not for worthy people, but for unworthy people who come because of Christ’s word of welcome, who stand only because they are clothed in Christ’s righteousness, and worship because they love the Lord who loved them first and gave himself for them.

Beware "Forrest Gump Spirituality"

Posted by Ryan on July 21, 2014 at 11:00 AM Comments comments (0)

Most of us have probably seen the 1994 Tom Hanks hit movie, Forrest Gump in which the titular character shares his experiences and reflections on life and society with various people on a Savannah park bench.

As the story goes on, Gump often shares with us little insights and maxims from his mother, which invariably begin, “Mama always said...”

For many who have been reared in a “pseudo-Christian Culture” such as the United States, we have a tendency to assume that the values and norms that we have known, lived under, and been taught are universal and transcendent truths and “Christian.”

Sadly, this is not always the case. For instance, you may have been told that it’s okay to tell a “little white lie” if it means not hurting someone’s feelings. God’s word, by contrast, tells us that God is a God of Truth, hates liars, and demands that His people love the truth so much that they forsake lying.

Many people who call themselves Christians live out a spirituality that consists simply of what they were taught by their parents and the traditions of their society. But is that where Christians are supposed to learn how to live as His people? Yet many in our society have a religion that consists of little more than “my mama always said...”

True Christianity is found and learned from God’s word, the Bible. The Bible teaches us that every culture is imperfect, riddled with sin, and doomed to pass away. Because of this, God’s word confronts every culture with its sins, failings, and shortcomings as it calls the people of every culture to embrace Jesus Christ offered in the gospel and follow His commandments.

As Presbyterians, we must not be crippling our growth in grace by living a “Forrest Gump spirituality” that consists only of traditions and sentiments of the past. We must be constantly looking to Christ and His word to see if the traditions and values that we hold dear are actually from God or merely of man’s devising.

One of the problems that has continually dogged the Church is that as persecution dies down, the saints become increasingly comfortable with the culture and the church begins to increasingly resemble the culture. The only defense against this is a robust and disciplined love for God’s word, not simply the “idea” of God’s word, but the actual words, sentences, paragraphs, teachings and themes of the Scripture.

Do you love God’s Word? Is your Christianity, your piety founded upon a faithful study of the words of Christ? Do you make time to know your Bible? Or is your religion simply that of traditions and customs? A religion that resembles the culture is not a religion of the Christ who was crucified for offending the traditions and customs of the society in which He lived. We must each ask ourselves and evaluate is my religion based on “my mama always said” and “I always thought” or “God says in His word?”