From what I’ve observed, we need to fight the temptation to drag people to Jesus, pulling teeth to get them through the door of a church only to hear a message that would’ve been more effective if they saw it lived out in miraculous ways through your own life story.Rebekah Johnson
Hagar the cat makes working from home cute yet challenging.
First of all, writing this in the time of Covid-19 is by no means saying I support or don’t support our government leaders’ desires to have us stay at home any longer. At this time of the shutdown and quarantine, a couple months in, I think about how we are faced with the challenge of dealing not only with joblessness, a decrease in tangible and present social touch, but with coping with our own emotions and desires on an escalated level.
But again, this is not about Covid-19. Though, I couldn’t resist the play on words concerning my thoughts on a Scripture this morning.
No, this is about the fact that as a Christian, my call is to be a witness to Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to the ends of the Earth, which sounds very much like “not-staying-at-home!” I am to “go” and make disciples. God is looking for those He can send to be a source of hope and healing. That seems to indicate a lot of movement, a lot of doing.
Yet, Jesus’ call was not just to “go”, but “to be.” He says in Acts to “be my witnesses…” in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to the end of the Earth. I think we often get caught up in the “Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and of the ends of the Earth” part because it’s exciting to travel! It’s thrilling to “go” and “do” things for Jesus. But I want to propose a mindset shift on what it means “to be.”
Also known as “Pastor Hagar”…
Here’s where I’m getting at and what I was inspired to write about this morning. There’s a story found in the book of Mark Ch 5 about Jesus healing/delivering/releasing a demon-possessed man. Upon doing so, the people are so shocked by Jesus’ miracle- (Perhaps terrified by? The text does not say) that they told Jesus to leave the region.
Unlike many of the regions we read about in the Bible, this town was so appalled by Jesus and the miracle that had taken place, that they wanted Jesus OUT. Jesus doesn’t argue with them and doesn’t try to convince them that they need him. He simply honors their request.
Now, for the man who had personally experienced the touch of Jesus, he wanted to go and follow His savior. He wanted to leave. He wanted to be on mission with Jesus. His heart was so moved that he yearned to leave everything he had known and go with God to the ends of the earth.
But, “Jesus did not let him.”
Jesus gave this man a specific “stay-at-home” order. He did not tell him to stay home because of anything the man was lacking. I say this because I think at times, we are waiting on God to send us on a great “mission” and “adventure” to fulfill the “master plan and purpose” for our lives, but we find ourselves not feeling qualified, educated enough, financially stable enough, or simply “enough” to be used to reach people with God’s message of hope.
But, my friend, you are enough for whatever and wherever God has called you to be. Notice I said, “be?” Because you’re asked to be a witness. And the job of a witness is simple: tell the story of what you saw. And in the case of this demon-possessed man, Jesus called him to be a witness in the man’s hometown.
“Go home to your own people, and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you. So the man went away and began to tell in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him. And all the people were amazed.”
Jesus tells the man to stay home, and to tell his story to his neighbors. He tells him to share God’s goodness and mercy to his friends and family. And from the mouth of this man, people were amazed. They were able to hear the truth about Jesus from the man that they already knew and had come to trust. They had seen the condition of this man before, and could see his deliverance before their very eyes.
“but what does this have to do about them?” – Pastor Cat
Now if we are to make a direct application from this man’s story to our own, this requires that we not only believe in Jesus, but understand what He has done in our story. And we have to be able to communicate it. This also requires that we let people see what we look like pre- and post- deliverance. These people knew what this man looked like demon-possessed. And they saw what he looked like delivered. They could see God’s mercy on him. They could see God’s changes in his life. That is what amazed them.
My friends, may I be so bold as to say that “going to church” is too much of an ask for some of your friends?
Uh-oh, I heard the pain of your spirit there. Let’s go back to the text and I’ll ask again.
My friends, may I be so bold as to say that “going to church” is too much of an ask for some of your friends? Because like the town of this demon possessed man, the presence of God God directly in front of them is too overwhelming, intimidating, and perhaps strange? That town, and perhaps our friends, want nothing to do of Jesus for whatever reason.
And instead of arguing, guilting, manipulating, or pleading, Jesus simply left the town, and sent someone else on mission, to stay home and be a witness.
Note: Does this mean you stop inviting your friends to church? I dare not say “Yes.”But if you felt a defense go up in your heart compelling yourself to assume my answer to that question, then you’re missing the point. It’s not so much about whether or not we ask our friends to “church.” The fact is that, my friend, you ARE the church.
“say that again for the dog sleeping in the back!” -Pastor Hagar
The same town that urged Jesus out was willing to listen to the testimony of their friend. They were amazed to see God’s story worked out in his life in a tangible way. And his story spread as he began to share in the “Decapolis” known as a group of Ten Cities.
I share these thoughts this morning because I see many Christians fired up to “go” and “do” for Jesus. They post on social media. They sign up for missions trips. They have grand dreams of what they could do for the Lord. Heck, I’m one of them.
But I hope that you would see that perhaps the grand adventure of your life is…. to stay home… To live the testimony of God in your own hometown. To see that your story is meant to be shared to your next door neighbors, and among your friends, and the social network you already have. To be a witness to what God is doing in your life to people who would not step foot in the doorway of a church building.
From what I’ve observed, we need to fight the temptation to drag people to Jesus, pulling teeth to get them through the door of a church only to hear a message that would’ve been more effective if they saw it lived out in miraculous ways through your own life story. We need to fight the urge to go to the ends of the earth because we’ve given into a lie that our neighbors don’t want to listen to Jesus.
“so sleeping in the dog’s bed is not being a good neighbor?”
Jesus did say if the Gospel is not received in a town to dust off your feet and keep going. But also the Gospel was based off of the witness of people who saw Jesus move mightily in their own lives. Have people seen God move in you? And there’s also the story of this man, who obediently stayed home and told people about what Jesus did, even though they had previously rejected God himself.
Perhaps your friends and family are in a place where they don’t want Jesus in their town, so to show up for even a church service online is not what their hearts can handle at this time. And do you think God is surprised by this? Scared of this? On the contrary. Because like the man in Mark 5, while Jesus couldn’t live in their town, Jesus lives in you. And your story is going to have a more tangible touch to your neighbor than the second hand stories of any preacher.
So if you want to “do” something for Jesus, “Be” a witness to the people within your reach. You are the church.
In this time of Covid-19, the church is not closed unless you stop sharing the story of God in your own life to the people already in your own life.
I don’t like doing “points” so much as questions. So here they are are.
- In your own life, are you letting Jesus do things in you? Heal you? Restore joy in you? Speak to you through the Word and prayer? Because you cannot “be” a witness if you don’t let God give you a story to share about from your own life.
- Are you a witness, a story teller of what God has done in your life, or do you try to simply tell others “what” and “why” they should believe? Do you let others see God at work in you. Can you recognize that your life is the church others should be showing up to?
- How are you at “staying at home?” Do you have the willingness and have you been obedient to start being a witness in your own family, neighborhood, and if you can do it well and with great love and compassion, I dare say, “social network?” Perhaps some of the stir-crazy we feel happens because we still haven’t fulfilled the mission to love our closest neighbor.
This is not to say that you are not called to adventure. To hop in a boat with Jesus and traipse to the ends of the earth. But my question to you in this time is how obedient have you been to perhaps this physical and spiritual order on your life to “stay home?”
So if I love the dog more, you’ll let me play outside? -Haggy Cat