Today I want to talk about the value of reaching people for God. This value is very dear to my heart. We’re going to be in Mark 2 this morning. Here’s the context of the verse we’ll launch of:
Jesus had just healed a guy and then he called Levi, a tax collector to come follow him. This offended the religious people and they wanted to know why Jesus would socialize with sinners. Well, Jesus’ response was shocking:
Mark 2:17 NIV
On hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
This is an emotional verse when you recognize that Jesus did not come for the healthy, he came for the sick. He didn’t come for those who already thought they were righteous but the sinners.
This is a photo a friend of mine took. He was on a drug bust and he took a photo. We recreated the photo as to not invade the man’s privacy. Here’s the recreated photo:
Pictured is a Bible, Christian books, condoms, and a LifeChurch bulletin along with some other stuff..
When I saw this it moved me. I showed this photo to some friends and asked what they thought of the photo. One way to look at it is that our church didn’t reach him. For me, it’s different. I see a guy who got trapped in a sinful pattern earlier in life. I can sense a spiritual battle going on that he’s searching and drawn toward what is right but pulled back to what is wrong.
That guy reminds me of me 28 years ago. This may be controversial but when we started this church we started with people like that in mind. We started it for people who are exactly like that. To one degree or another we are all exactly like that. Jesus didn’t come for those who have it all together. He came for the sick, the broken, and the sinners.
There are some of you who are in a similar spot but this could be the day that changes. Growing up, I attended church. But the church didn’t reach me. So we created a different church. I was never confronted with my own sin and a need for a Savior. Church was boring and it didn’t engage me. When I went off to college the reality of my sin became apparent. It weighed on me. So I went to seek Jesus.
When I understood that Jesus didn’t come for people who have it all together then I was all in. I was fully in! Then I started trying to get my friends to come to church with me. They wouldn’t attend with me. They wouldn’t come, wouldn’t come, and then they came to service with me and it was “Screwy Sunday.” Why!?!?
When we started this church, we started it with that guy from the picture in mind. We wanted every week to be a “good week” to bring someone to service because we believe God is calling us to reach people who are far from Him.
Let’s read this powerful story from Mark’s Gospel:
Mark 2:1-5 NIV
A few days later, when Jesus again entered Capernaum, the people heard that he had come home. 2 They gathered in such large numbers that there was no room left, not even outside the door, and he preached the word to them. 3 Some men came, bringing to him a paralyzed man, carried by four of them. 4 Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus by digging through it and then lowered the mat the man was lying on. 5 When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralyzed man, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”
Notice that before Jesus healed the guy (which he eventually does) he healed the man’s sins. He met the spiritual need first.
Our value is this:
We will do anything short of sin to reach people who don’t know Christ. To reach people no one is reaching we’ll do things no one is doing.
How true is this of your life?
Just like the previous three weeks, I want you to rate yourself on a 1-10 scale.
1 – Apathetic
10 – Passionate
High Score (6-9):
You led someone to Christ last week and multiple people in your lifetime. You pray for people by name. You probably brought someone to church with you today. You’re passionate and care deeply for people who are far from God.
Low Score (2-5):
Apathetic and haven’t led someone to Christ recently, if ever. You aren’t praying for people consistently to find Christ, or even a single person at all. It’s been a long time since you’ve brought someone who isn’t a Christ follower to church.
I’m not trying to make you feel guilty. I just want you to be honest.
If you are a 2, 3 4, or 5 and follow Christ then this is unacceptable.
Here are two big thoughts today:
1 – Bear Some Burdens
Care for those who are hurting or in need.
Mark 2:3 NIV
Some men came, bringing to him a paralyzed man, carried by four of them.
Notice that four men carried the man. They got involved in his life! They didn’t want to get him to Jesus they had to.
A challenge for Christians who share their faith today is similar to a drive by shooting. They do a drive by witnessing. In other words, they aren’t involved in a person’s life but they say, “Hey! Jesus loves you!” That doesn’t work in today’s world at all. People need to know you care about them not that you’re trying to convert them.
People don’t care how much you know they want to first know how much you care.
As followers of Jesus, we are going to bear some burdens.
We don’t invite people to LifeChurch, we bring them.
Think about the picture: Jesus is in a house that is jam-packed. The four men were trying to get in but they couldn’t because it was so full! Sometimes this is what happens today, people are huddled up around Jesus with their back turned to those in need. Our actions are then saying that we don’t really care…
I believe we are called to bear some burdens. We need to be with hurting people, in attendance and present. When we bear burdens we’ve then earned the right to share about the love of Jesus.
Amber from our church is a real estate agent. She had a breakthrough deal coming through with big commissions (because of a couple divorcing). Well, at church that weekend we had a message about marriage and offered a book, From This Day Forward. She gave a book to each one of them and now their marriage is doing well! Amber lost the three potential commissions but the marriage was revived. I hope she is tremendously blessed for putting someone else’s well-being in front of their own.
If you have eyes to see then I pray you have the eyes to see those who are hurting.
2 – Break Some Rules
This resonates with some of you. I am a rule breaker by nature. I never waited 30 minutes to swim after eating. I didn’t wear a seatbelt as a kid, I ran with scissors and lollipops in my mouth. I sniffed magic markers. (That explains it…)
In the story, we see four guys who break some rules and do whatever it takes to bring a person to Christ.
Mark 2:4 NIV
Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus by digging through it and then lowered the mat the man was lying on.
Don’t miss this! The crashed through the roof!
Researching how these roofs were made, there were posts three feet a part and then it was packed with mud and manure.
Sometimes you will have to dig through a little manure to get somebody to Jesus!
What I love about this is that these guys are not taking obstacles as a sign that God is stopping them. They took the man to Jesus!
We have people in our congregation doing this. Brent employs convicted felons and he says, “Since I’m paying you, you’re going to church with me.” Some don’t like it but it’s had an impact for these people at getting a second chance in life. Fifteen of them have been brought to Christ!
To reach people no one is reaching we are going to have to do some things no one is doing. Church online is a heavily debated idea in church circles. While others continue to debate and argue about it, we go ahead and to it and touch 5 million people all around the world. And 9500 people who told us they committed their life to Christ. We reach people in places where you can’t even own a Bible!
We bought Google AdWords to place an ad on the search term “naked ladies.” Don’t search that, but that’s what happens. We’ll have to do things no one is doing.
The church should be the most creative and innovative organization around. Several hundred years ago, the church was the center of the city and the leader in the arts. What has happened? We delegated innovation to Apple, creativity to Hollywood, relationships to social media and the government to meet the needs of the poor. But we are the best organization to do all of that!
We must stop going to church and start being the church. Recognize that Jesus didn’t come for the healthy but the sick and we are all sick. Our only reasonable response is to give him our whole lives! Do you recognize what a big deal it is you’re saved from?
When you know what you are saved from then you will do anything short of sin to reach people for Jesus Christ because we want to become fully devoted followers of Christ.
This message is from Craig Groeschel at LifeChurch.tv
Teaching Series “Anything Short of Sin”
Title: “Irrationally Generous”