Summary: Oftentimes we must step out of our comfort zone to minister to persons in dire need of help from someone who cares - but - whoever or whatever or wherever, our main mission is to share the gospel of Jesus Christ.
VICTORIOUS CHRISTIAN LIFE: MAKING THE GOSPEL OUR MAIN MISSION
Rick Burdette, a Church of Christ Minister, was burned badly when he was ten years old. His third-degree burns required skin graft surgery, a lengthy hospital stay and, as he put it, having to “endure” visits of folks from the church of which his family were members.
Rick remembers folks coming to visit him, and some of them, well meaning, saying, “We love you Ricky, we know how you feel” - or words to that effect. Rick says, even at his young age he thought to himself, “You have no idea how it feels”. Then one day Mr. Bryant came to visit.
Mr. Bryant brought an old crumpled letter he had written to his fiancé when he was stationed at Pearl Harbor where he was burned horribly when oil exploded in the attack. He’d even told his fiancé to find someone else. But, Rick says, Mr. Bryant looked okay, even though he had scars; and when Mr. Bryant got ready to leave he asked, “Can I pray for you”?
Rick doesn’t remember the prayer, but he remembers that, after the prayer, Mr. Bryant said to him, “I know how you feel” - and, when Mr. Bryant said that, Rick’s heart was touched as he felt a comfort beyond words. For the first time during his ordeal, Rick thought to himself, “Yes. You. Do.” Furthermore, Rick said to himself, “If he made it, I can too.” Yes, you can!
The Victorious Christian Life for many of us began when we came face to face with someone – either a real live person, or, vicariously, a biblical person – one who had “walked in our shoes . . . sat where we sat . . . been where we had been . . . gone through what we went through . . . suffered like we suffered . . . been lost like we were lost . . . been ‘found’ like we needed to be found.”
Personal testimonies of Christians who have risen above undesirable circumstances in their lives serve as powerful motivators to those of us who may be suffering from a weakness and are therefore in need of being ministered to by someone who understands our weakness and our sorrow.
The Apostle Paul was one who could look you in the eyes and say, “I know how you feel” - and then, based on personal experience, communicate to you the gospel of Jesus Christ – solely and purely out of love for his fellowman.
Not always had this been the case with Paul. He subscribed to the doctrine of salvation through sinless perfection; then he met the risen Christ face to face– and that transformational encounter changed him from persecutor to propagator of the gospel of Christ. Now . . .
Saved by the blood of Jesus, set apart to serve Him as Lord, Paul realized, at long last: What the law could not do, God’s grace could do – grant salvation to all who truly believe. Furthermore, Paul now knew that, whereas the “law” could never communicate the grace of God, “those saved by grace” – freed from the “law” with its impossible demand for perfection - could do – I Corinthians 9:19-23 . . .
Paul had always been a Jew, but when he met and received the gospel in the person of Jesus Christ, he became a new man in Christ. Q: What had you always been before you became a new person in Christ? Yet, Paul continued to practice Jewish laws to a certain degree, but not without limits.
Paul drew a line at the point where observance of a Jewish ritual hindered the sharing the gospel of Christ. Q: At what point do you draw the line?
Paul was willing to cooperate to the extent that he could for one reason, and one reason only – that, by cooperating up to a certain point he might win some to Christ.
Sharing the gospel was Paul’s main mission – ours too!
Paul would not have been a good candidate for “political correctness”!
Nor would he be a good fit for the “in crowd” - those who tend toward moral and ethical disregard - “go along to get along”. Nor should we!
That said, it needs to be said that Paul was not wishy-washy. He held to his Christian convictions - purity, morality, love for people, compassion, willing to share himself and his possessions to minister to “the least of these” – but, neither was Paul going to live in isolation from the world as if he did not care. Rather, Paul positioned himself to gain, then maintain, open channels of communication. And, so must we!
Paul himself could not “save some” . . . was not the Savior and fortunately, he knew it! But, what could he do? He could tell about the One who saves!