- (By CP Cartoonist Rod Anderson)
Do you realize that everyone in your community falls into one of three categories? By using the Old Testament as a way to think about people today, we see that everyone is somewhere between an "Egyptian" and an "Israelite."
So what are these three categories? The first group is made up of the "Egyptians." The second group consists of those "Israelites who are still living in Egypt." And the third group consists of the "Israelites who have left Egypt" and are headed toward the promised land.
Egypt represents slavery to sin. The first group of people in your community are unbelievers who don't have an inkling of their need for Jesus Christ and the forgiveness of their sins. They sense no urgency about their spiritual condition, even though their inner being remains spiritually dead. The Gospel message is foreign to their way of thinking.
The second group consists of those people who are still enslaved to their sin, but they have sensed that God is calling them to come out of Egypt and follow Christ as Savior and Lord. This group of "Israelites who are still living in Egypt" are people who have some awareness that God is calling them to a better life, and to a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Some of them go to church and have been baptized or walked forward during an altar call, but they still do not have a living relationship with the Lord of the universe. Their hearts are not filled with love for God and for others. As St. Paul said, "For not all who are descended from Israel are Israel." (Romans 9:6)
The third group of people in your community consists of the Christians. These believers are "Israelites" in the sense that they are in God's family. They know the Lord. They have been spiritually reborn through faith in Christ. They repent of their sin and they believe the good news. The Holy Spirit is producing His fruit in their life. (see Galatians 5:22,23) They too were spiritually dead while in Egypt, but they came out of that place when the Holy Spirit worked the new birth in their life. They are now on the narrow road to the promised land of heaven.
There is no fourth category of people in your community. There are Christian believers. There are unbelievers. And there are those who are sensing that God is calling them into His family, but they are not yet walking in faith and their hearts are not turned toward the Lord in repentance.
You don't have to remain in Egypt. You don't have to remain a slave to your sin. (see Romans 6:1-23) Jesus died to set you free. He died to bring you out of that place. You can bring your sin to the cross today. There is peace and freedom in a relationship with the Lord. It is a very good thing to be in His family, whether you realize that yet or not.
I should warn you however. Even the Israelites in the Old Testament had plenty of challenging times. God allowed them to go through difficulties in order to test their faith. He was always faithful to them, even though they were not always faithful to Him. God is good all the time, even when we don't understand why He is allowing us to go through a painful situation.
Jesus told His disciples, "In this world, you will have trouble."(John 16:33) As long as you enter this relationship with God knowing that it won't be a bed of roses here on earth, you will be on your way to a life of productive discipleship. Christians today, like Israelites in the Old Testament, have plenty of times "in the wilderness." There are times when it feels like God is distant, but through faith, you come to realize that your feelings cannot be trusted. Only God's Word and God's promises can be trusted.
Such is life in the family of God. If you are not there yet, now is the time to "get on that train." The longer you delay, the more resistant your heart will likely become toward Christ and His plan of salvation.
So are you an "Egyptian" today? Or perhaps an "Israelite living in Egypt" who is beginning to sense your sinfulness and your need for Christ? Or are you an "Israelite" on your way to the promised land of heaven? One thing is sure. You are definitely in one of those three categories my friend, whether you want to be or not. There is no fourth option.