Acts 2:14-47; Deuteronomy 15-16; Job 11
John Elkington proposed the idea known as “The Triple Bottom Line” in 1994 as a way to get companies to realize that there was more to life than cash flow. The Triple Bottom Line was how companies needed to measure themselves. First, the traditional view, was profits. The second bottom line was people. How socially responsible is the company and what effect do they have on the people of the company and customers. The third bottom line is how environmentally conscious they are. What affect do they have on the planet? What a great way of looking at things! If all you do is look at profit, then it would be wise to invest in companies that make an outlandish return on investment because they use slave labor and destroy the environment in their wake.
If there is a “Christian Triple Bottom Line” it would deal with Ministry, Mankind, and Methods, I believe. Are we ministering to people in need? Are we making a difference for all mankind? Do we use methods that are biblically sound without manipulation? I don’t know how we would measure all of those quantitatively, just as I’m not sure how you would measure the people and the planet effects with the financial Triple Bottom Line, but it all begins with bringing men and women to Jesus. We can’t minister without people to do the ministry; we can’t make a difference for all mankind if we can’t even make a difference in ourselves and other followers of Jesus Christ; and if we don’t use biblically sound methods to evangelize, then we really haven’t brought people to Jesus – we’ve taught them to say the right words to get rid of us. Peter, in the first sermon of the Church, on the day of Pentecost helped us understand part of the biblical method of evangelism. “Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.” (Acts 2:36)
It’s probably not politically correct in these days, but after Peter gave an explanation of what was happening and why these travelers kept hearing the word of God in their own language, he closed his message with a guilt trip. “Jesus, whom you crucified” were words that disturbed many of those in attendance. They probably hadn’t taken part in the trials of Jesus – either before the Sanhedrin or Pilate. It’s likely that they didn’t even go out and watch the crucifixion. Even still, Peter’s message is accurate – and it’s still true today. Jesus was crucified because of my sins. That is a truth that we in the church believe and proclaim. I didn’t physically hold the hammer that nailed Jesus to the cross, but spiritually, I did since my sins brought Him there. It is biblical to help people understand their sin and that there is accountability for that sin. Yes, I used the “s” word even though we’re supposed to talk about “bad choices” or something like that.
Just as biblical, though is Peter’s response to people who came face to face with their sins and wondered what they could do about it: repent and be baptized for forgiveness of sins. Without getting into the theological debate about what baptism means, Peter is telling them that turning from their sin and being willing to let God immerse Himself in their lives will bring salvation – at other times the phrase is “times of refreshment from the Lord.” Sometimes when we focus on people’s sins, we forget about God’s forgiveness. Perhaps I err on the side of focusing on God’s forgiveness without calling out specific sins, but I figure that reminding you that you have sin and letting God reveal that to you is enough. My job is to show the forgiveness and grace of God that is found through the death of Jesus on the cross. We live each day through the grace of Jesus Christ, as this message from long ago shows. 3000 people came into a new relationship with God that day through His grace.
Oh Lord, when I look at my own life, I realize how much my sin seeks to overwhelm me. Thank You for forgiveness through Jesus Christ. Continue to help me turn from my sin and live by Your grace and forgiveness.