This day shall be a day of remembrance for you. You shall celebrate it as a festival to the Lord; throughout your generations you shall observe it as a perpetual ordinance. Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread; on the first day you shall remove leaven from your houses, for whoever eats leavened bread from the first day until the seventh day shall be cut off from Israel. On the first day you shall hold a solemn assembly, and on the seventh day a solemn assembly; no work shall be done on those days; only what everyone must eat, that alone may be prepared by you. You shall observe the festival of unleavened bread, for on this very day I brought your companies out of the land of Egypt: you shall observe this day throughout your generations as a perpetual ordinance. In the first month, from the evening of the fourteenth day until the evening of the twenty-first day, you shall eat unleavened bread. For seven days no leaven shall be found in your houses; for whoever eats what is leavened shall be cut off from the congregation of Israel, whether an alien or a native of the land. You shall eat nothing leavened; in all your settlements you shall eat unleavened bread.
Then Moses called all the elders of Israel and said to them, “Go, select lambs for your families, and slaughter the passover lamb. Take a bunch of hyssop, dip it in the blood that is in the basin, and touch the lintel and the two doorposts with the blood in the basin. None of you shall go outside the door of your house until morning. For the Lord will pass through to strike down the Egyptians; when he sees the blood on the lintel and on the two doorposts, the Lord will pass over that door and will not allow the destroyer to enter your houses to strike you down. You shall observe this rite as a perpetual ordinance for you and your children. When you come to the land that the Lord will give you, as he has promised, you shall keep this observance. And when your children ask you, ‘What do you mean by this observance?’ you shall say, ‘It is the passover sacrifice to the Lord, for he passed over the houses of the Israelites in Egypt, when he struck down the Egyptians but spared our houses.’” And the people bowed down and worshiped.
Live as Servants of God1
Beloved, I urge you as aliens and exiles to abstain from the desires of the flesh that wage war against the soul. Conduct yourselves honorably among the Gentiles, so that, though they malign you as evildoers, they may see your honorable deeds and glorify God when he comes to judge.
For the Lord’s sake accept the authority of every human institution, whether of the emperor as supreme, or of governors, as sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to praise those who do right. For it is God’s will that by doing right you should silence the ignorance of the foolish. As servants of God, live as free people, yet do not use your freedom as a pretext for evil. Honor everyone. Love the family of believers. Fear God. Honor the emperor.
In the United States, we expect at least one up-tempo, happy song about God’s love and goodness, followed by a entertaining and engaging talk (sermon) that explains how the Bible applies to us today. In the last five minutes of the talk it should shift gears from the particular passage and move to a specific challenge to follow Jesus. During this time, or immediately following it, an emotional, slow to moderately paced song should be played at sufficient volume to fill the room and remove any external distractions. Following the challenge, the speaker should invite those who feel so led to come down to the front and stand or kneel for prayer with the leader or leaders of the ministry.
What is needed? A skilled speaker, a group of talented musicians, electricity and a sound system, and probably most important of all – a crowd. People are more likely to go forward in a large crowd where they feel anonymous than in the middle of of a small group that they will see at work the next day.
The further south you go, the louder and more confrontational you are expected to be. The further north you go, the more you are expected to be respectful and not pushy, ideally making the responding individuals feel like they are making decisions all on their own.
Across the globe, some cultures favor more elaborate invitations and some favor more informal ones. Across history, some groups have favored making decisions on Sunday mornings in church, others favor Sunday nights or evening revival services. Many more made decisions at home, at work, or out in the market. What we often forget is that many people either did not have access to a regular church service throughout history, or were not allowed in church because of their race, socioeconomic background, or public perception by rumor or record. Those people make decisions to follow Christ wherever they are offered it.
What kind of preparation is required outside of our cultural preferences? Not near as many as we often make. One thing stands out above everything else though. It is the preparation Jesus asked all His disciples to make. Deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow Him. It may cost you differently than it costs others, but it will end up costing all, for God will only redeem what we are willing to offer to him.
What does God require from you?
How has God taken that offering and blessed you with it?
How can you prepare for God to take you further with Him?
- (Cp Rom 13:1–5)↩