This morning we kicked off our operation Christmas child campaign. It was festive and people were gathered around the tables, picking up boxes, buying premade boxes and soccer balls and pumps. It is the beginning of the end of the year. But there is still much left in the year. We have Reformation/confirmation Sunday, All Saints Sunday, stewardship Sunday, Thanksgiving, Advent and Christmas. All in two- and one-half months. I like the hustle and bustle of this time of the year. As we watched the OCC video today, I was struck by a couple of things. Usually we see videos of kids receiving boxes and the excitement that brings. It is fun and exciting. But this year the video was very different. Today we were reminded of the main reason we pack these boxes.
There are people all over the world who have never even heard the name Jesus. These people have no place to turn to for hope. They have no idea that Jesus promised to return to heaven to prepare a place for us, that in Jesus we have the promise of eternal life in paradise with Him. And we heard the words of Revelation 7:9. ”After this I looked, and there was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, from all tribes and people's and languages, standing before the throne and before the lamb, robed in white, with palm branches in their hands.” This is the picture of heaven. It is not just for some people, one race, one denomination. It is for every tribe, nation, language and race. But they won't be there if we do not share Jesus with them. Try to fathom your life, never even having heard the name Jesus.
Franklin Graham quoted the words of Jesus, to go to the ends of the earth with the Good News of Jesus Christ. The ends of the earth seem pretty far away. It seems like someone else should do all that traveling, take all those chances and do all that work. Except Jesus wasn't specific here. He simply said go. Go to the ends of the earth. Reach those who have not heard. Reach those who do not know me...the ones at the end of the earth. Where do you think of when you picture the ends of the earth? Africa maybe, or some of the remote islands? Perhaps Inner Mongolia, Siberia or Antarctica. Going to the ends of the earth means telling those who have never heard or met Jesus. For some of us, the ends of the earth might be a journey halfway around the world. For others it might be halfway across the house.
Because, you see there are people everywhere who have not heard the Good News of Jesus Christ. And some of them, we live with. The message of Jesus is one that is meant to be shared. If we eat at a great restaurant or see an amazing movie...we usually share that with others, don't we? How much more do we have to share with others about Jesus Christ. We are reminded that we are called to share the love of Jesus with everyone, even those we consider enemies. Paul tells us In Ephesians 3 about a mystery, and that mystery is good news for all people. Because Jesus came for all people and we are all members of the same body of Christ. The kid's song that says, red and yellow, black and white, all are precious in His sight isn't just a song. It is the way we are called to live. Jesus does not look at the outside of people like we do. He doesn't see color or shape or ability or knowledge. He looks deep within to see what is in our hearts.
There are so many who do not have the assurance found in Lamentations 3:21-23. ”But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: the steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” When we talk about this love of God's we are not just talking about emotive love. We are speaking of His covenant faithfulness that reflects His character. God has made a commitment to His people...all of them. Our suffering doesn't change this covenant. Neither does our obedience or disobedience. He loves us when we draw close to Him and when we stray. We may ignore or forget Him, but He never forgets us.
If you need scripture to share with someone, Psalm 91 is a great place to start. It speaks to everyday life and to life amid challenges. And there are these words from Paul, ”For the wages of sin are death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord.” By all rights we should spend eternity apart from God. Our disobedience and sin have opened a chasm between God and us that we would never be able to cross. But in Jesus Christ, God has made a way for us to be able to come to Him. In Jesus we have been washed clean. In Jesus we have been made acceptable to God. That is the good news we have to share. Where will you journey to share that news?
In His grip
Pastor Matt W