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The Rededication Ferris-Wheel

I got off the “rededication Ferris-Wheel” several years ago.  If you have spent any time in the typical church that employs the ritual of the alter-call, you’ll immediately understand what I am talking about.  The preacher offers an invitation to express faith in Christ publically (you walk an aisle, shake hands with the preacher, and say a little prayer).  All this happens while the congregation is singing umteent verses of “Just As I Am Without One Plea'”

If nobody is in the “getting saved” mood, then the preacher talks to the already converted, trying to convince them that they have really messed up since the day they “got saved.”  So, before the worship gathering ends, somebody needs to “get right with God” and “rededicate themselves to the Lord.”

It can be a compelling experience for many; after all, we are a guilt-ridden people.  It is easy for us to find wayward thought or deeds in the waning moments of a communal gathering that we sense we ought to feel guilty about.  So we walk the aisle, talk to the preacher once more, telling her we want to rededicate ourselves to Jesus.  We want to renew our faith. 

The problem?  It doesn’t last!  In a few days, weeks, months, or perhaps years – the whole routine will be repeated.  As a pastor, I have watched some people live a life-time on that Ferris-Wheel.  They either think that God’s grace is not sufficient, or they thing it is not really about grace, but it’s about their personal efforts. 

That’s why I got off the “rededication Ferris-Wheel”.  It is so laden in bad theology, guilt, and ministerial misconduct.  It is so prone to the ups-and-downs of our daily moods swings.  It makes the Christian life all about our efforts to please God, when Christianity is really about being “adopted” into God’s family through our faith union with Christ and HIS WORK done on our behave to love us, redeem us, and heal us at the cross. 

So, I quit.  It happened many years ago, in fact.  I no longer  invite people to rededicate themselves to Jesus.  If they come anyways, I tell them that Christ has already taken care of those sins.  They don’t have to be afraid of falling out of God’s favor.  Instead, they just need to remember that forever and always, they are God’s blessed child. 

Now some might cynically say, “Well, if you tell them that, won’t they just go out and sin again?”  I answer, “They were going to do that anyways, and then just come back in six months and rededicate themselves again!  So, from that perspective, nothing has changed.” 

The truth, however, is that when a person really understands God’s amazing grace – when they really understand what it means to be in fellowship with our Triune God – they will cease wanting to sin and will find that hunger to live as a part of God’s fellowship.  They will begin to find that their relationship with God is so intimate that they no longer feel obligated to God.  Instead, they see themselves as adopted daughters and sons of an Loving Father.  When that starts to take root, lives are changed, from the inside out. 

Remember what Jesus said to his disciples?  “I do not call you servants, but friends.” 

The “rededication Ferris-Wheel” promotes the myth that somehow it is all up to us.  We keep trying harder, redoubling our efforts, and renewing our vows.  But we’ll be back again – because our efforts are never enough.  His grace, however, is (and always will be) sufficient.

My wife was once invited to sing at a revival.  I went along for support.  She sang, “My Faith Has Found A Resting Place.”   Here is the lyrics.

My faith has found a resting place,
Not in device nor creed;
I trust the Everliving One,
His wounds for me shall plead.

Enough for me that Jesus saves,
This ends my fear and doubt;
A sinful soul, I come to Him,
He’ll never cast me out.

My heart is leaning on the Word,
The LIVING Word of God,
Salvation by my Savior’s name,
Salvation through His blood.

My great Physician heals the sick,
The lost He came to save;
For me His precious blood He shed,
For me His life He gave.

Refrain:
I need no other argument,
I need no other plea;
It is enough that Jesus died,
And that He died for me.

—Lidie H. Edmunds, 19th Century

After she finished, the “guest preacher” got up and spent the next 45 minutes berating the rural little congregation for every sin imaginable.  I knew most of these people.  They were “salt of the earth” type folks.  Each was a member of that church and believers in Jesus Christ.  Still, the preacher beat them up, and beat them up good.

“You need to get yourselves right with God.”

“You need to redouble your efforts for the Kingdom.”

“You need to renew your vows to the Lord.”

“You need to rededicate yourself to Jesus right now.”

Then he said something that made it hard to contain myself.  As he continued to berate the congregation, he said: 

“I DON’T KNOW ABOUT YOU, BUT I WOULD RATHER BURN OUT THAN RUST OUT!”

I leaned over to my wife and whispered, “Either way, you’re out!”  (I’d heard this line from Steve McVey.)

There is a better way.  You are not on the burn out or rust out “rededication Ferris-Wheel.”  There is another way.  You can learn to REST in God’s grace.

The choice we have today is to keep trying or start trusting.

I’ve made my choice.  I know that I can’t fix what’s wrong with me – but that God has and God is.  So now I join the refrain:

I need no other argument,
I need no other plea;
It is enough that Jesus died,
And that He died for me.

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One Response to “The Rededication Ferris-Wheel”

  1. k says:

    How badly I needed to hear this today. Week after week of this can really cause despair. Praise be to Jesus!

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