Thursday, January 21, 2010

Having the Guts to Care

Having the Guts to Care
Matthew 10:1-15 & Luke 10:1-16

In both of the passages given above Jesus is giving instructions to his followers. If you look at the heading of each of these sections it may read something like this. In Matthew mine reads The Twelve Disciples; Instructions for Service and in Luke it reads The Seventy Sent Out. Notice in Matthew’s account Jesus was giving instructions to the Twelve and Luke’s account he is giving the same instructions to the twelve again but also to the fifty-eight additional followers. Jesus reminded the twelve of the mission and equipped the others with the same message. He is doing it today. Do you hear Him? Will you receive from Him the power to go and do the work of the mission?

The only major difference between the two accounts is what Jesus said in Luke 10:2 “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore beseech the lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.” Beseech means to beg for urgently or anxiously; to request earnestly: to implore. This has been my position and prayer for years and as we approach our Friends & Family Community Outreach weekend I urgently and anxiously implore you to pray the same and at the same time respond by becoming a laborer in the field of harvest. You see God is not in short supply of lost souls to reach and harvest. He is short on laborers whom He has called and equipped for such a time as this. Again, I ask, will you partner with God by investing yourself in the lives of others? Will you position yourself to love and serve those next door to you, at work, or most importantly among your own family? The relationships around you in your day to day life make up the field of harvest which the Lord of the harvest calls you to. Love and service is the best way to demonstrate and communicate the gospel message to those you care about.

I know many of us are busy these days. However, if we took the time to look at the life of Jesus we could easily determine that he was extremely busy as well. In Matthew 9:35 it say’s, “Jesus was going through all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the Gospel of the Kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness.” Consider this; the area in which Jesus ministered was 40 miles wide and 70 miles long about the size of Puerto Rico . It has also been documented that there were at least some 200 cities with and estimated population of 15,000 each. This means that Jesus was ministering to close to 3 million people in His day. Now that is busy! So, in the midst of our business we can take heart and know that Jesus can identify and relate to our hectic world and chaotic schedules. However, my business affects me differently than business affected Jesus. My business causes me to be so self consumed to the point that I don’t have the time or emotional energy to love, care, or serve others in my spiritual field of harvest. How about you? If you read Matthew 9:36 you will see the driving force behind Jesus’ ministry and mission. It say’s this, “Seeing the people, He felt compassion for them.” Two things to notice before I move on; first He had to see the people. I am not just talking noticing that people were there and possibly even in His way. In His seeing them He saw the image in which they were created. He identified with them. He saw that they were like sheep without a shepherd or maybe like children without a Father. He possibly saw the effects of sin and wayward living. He saw the sickness and disease that was robbing people of a life of health and fullness. Second, in seeing, Jesus was moved or felt compassion for them. I’m not talking about a form of superficial compassion that made Him feel sorry for the people in His path. I am talking about a deep emotion that generated swift spontaneous reaction that produced and intentional action; He healed their diseases and sicknesses. We have been empowered and equipped to do the same.

I titled this writing “Having the Guts to Care.” I will conclude with these final thoughts. The word compassion found in the above scripture has a much deeper meaning than most would catch by simply reading the scripture. The word for compassion literally means bowels. I discovered this in the book titled “Organic Church . "Neil Cole writes, “There is a good reason for using this descriptive word. When you really feel emotional, where do you feel it? Not in your heart, but in your gut. We don’t get butterflies in our heart; we get them in our stomach… So when Jesus saw all the people, His breath was taken away. He was hit in His solar plexus. He was bent over in discomfort.”

“Most of us are surrounded daily by people who do not have Christ, yet we walk through life without feeling it in our gut. Why? Because we don’t see them the way Jesus does. But we can.”

“The Bible reveals why He felt compassion for them. It is because He saw them distressed and downcast. The two words distressed and downcast are also highly descriptive. They are violent words. Distressed can be translated as ‘harassed,’ or even as ‘molested.’ The word downcast is a wrestling term that can be translated as ‘pinned down by force.’”

“Imagine how different church, and ultimately our world, would be if we all began to look past the calloused exterior of sinners and saw them as they truly are: harassed, molested, and violently pinned down by a wicked brute. As we begin to see past surfaces to the true state of people’s souls, we become people of compassion like Jesus.”

So, do you have the guts to care? You can! As a church we are providing you with opportunities to get involved with what God is doing and what He cares about. We do so by providing you with opportunities to reach out to those in your day to day field of harvest to invite and bring them into environments filled with love and grace. Week in and week out there are a variety of places to bring people into such as your small group, connection events, and celebration services. In addition we create strategic events like Friends & Family Weekend, Trunk or Treat, Christmas & Easter musical productions, etc…

In conclusion, reread the scriptures provided in this writing and look at the ways and means in which God equips and empowers you for the harvest. Pray and ask God to help you see the people in your field. Ask Him to flood your soul with breath taking compassion. Then respond however God leads you to.