TITLE: Reaching Out 6/23/14
By Richard McCaw
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You are a doctor during an epidemic. Patients are dying of an incurable disease at an alarming rate. While playing chess in another room, a junior doctor bursts in, “Doctor, Emergency is overcrowded, come quickly!” When he exits, you take another pawn, keep playing and remark “Some people take things too seriously!” However, that would be irresponsible of you as one caring for the bodies of men. Similarly, with souls facing eternity we cannot be playing games!
One Sunday after the morning service as some of us stood at the church door in the bright sunlight I remarked earnestly to an elderly church sister, “I think we need a Revival!”
“You always talk about Revival, Richard. Why don’t you get one yourself?” she replied.
Her response as a stalwart in the church surprised me! I felt suddenly saddened by our apathy as the people of God. The passion for the lost that inflamed the Early Church seemed to have become like lifeless embers among the ashes of ecclesiastical programs and well-thought-out activities. The idea of a spiritual awakening was not welcome and would upset the comfort of regular church routine.
At the back of my mind always was that image of lost souls on the edge of a cliff. It would be criminal to leave them and go about my own selfish business! The words of Oswald J. Smith’s book "A Passion for Souls" burned in my heart: “The supreme task of the church is ‘World Evangelization!” Jesus went about every city and village preaching the gospel of the kingdom. His vision was clear: “all nations; all the world; every creature; to the uttermost parts of the earth!” I often loaded myself with tracts, my spiritual ammunition to shatter the defences of enemies of the gospel. I scattered them wherever I went; on the streets, at the bus stop, on buses, in hospitals and at church. With youthful energy and enthusiasm, I never seemed to stop.
When I was seventeen years old, members of the church used to conduct open-air street meetings in Allman Town and Jones Town. After a street service we often counseled people until midnight. Reaching needy souls on a dark street corner seemed the kind of thing Jesus would have done. After midnight I often remember riding my bicycle home, quietly turning the key in the front door, and tip-toeing to my bedroom.
Perhaps, the images in my mind were too alarming for some. Perhaps, the urgency of reaching the lost had not reached home to the multitudes of professing believers who frequented the walls of a church building on a Sunday morning, and who were satisfied to merely sing praises to God and remain unconcerned about the condition of their fellowmen outside.
For me the words of Jesus Christ penetrated my very soul. “The Son of Man came to seek and to save that which was lost.” The idea of a lost sheep unable to find its way among bushes and bramble out where wolves may attack and devour easily, was a frightening thought.
The story of the lost son, who left his father’s mansion and strayed far away, who got involved with the wrong crowd, lost all his money, whose friends abandoned him, who had to work among pigs, fighting with them for the scraps of pig food mirrored for me people I began meeting on streets, on buses, during visits to hospitals and in the impoverished homes of Sunday school students.
Jesus once recounted the story of the rich man who spent his whole life living for material comforts, unconcerned for the poor and selfishly enjoying the pleasures of luxury. I had seen people like that. Even worse was the fate that Jesus Christ described of the hell into which that man found himself after death. The horror of anyone facing an eternity without God and without hope was terrifying. I could understand why the Savior left heaven’s glory to come to earth to be tortured, to be rejected and finally to experience the cruelest kind of death invented by man, death on a Roman cross.
I could not convince myself like some people that God is such a loving God, he would not have a prison house somewhere in the universe for men who rejected His great love and sacrifice. If human governments locked up criminals on earth, then the Universe, directed by the Creator must have some prison for rebellious sinners, including all those who refused to submit to God’s simple plan of deliverance, who preferred their own religious ways of getting to heaven.
Besides, if there were no real penalty for sin, then He did not need to leave heaven to come here. If we could live in sin then go ‘poof’ into non-existence, that would be no punishment for insulting the Creator, Who so loved us that He sent His Son to deliver us from Satan’s power.
Whenever I looked into the faces of people anywhere I would ask myself, “Is that one on the broad road that leads to destruction and a lost eternity?" or “How many of these people sitting beside me in this bus are going to live with Christ one day?”
One thing was certain. Jesus Christ, the King had called me in the same way He had called those early followers, “Follow me, and I will make you to become fishers of men!” There was no way getting around that command. If I followed Him and watched Him long enough, I too would one day be reaching out and leading many to Him. I saw His loving hands stretched out, reaching to touch the sick, the lame, the hurting and, like the Gentle Shepherd, I saw Him with His lambs in His arms.
The Great Commission still echoes down the corridors of the centuries, “Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature!” and “I am with you always, even to the end of the world!”
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