On Sunday we talked about how the church must always be an outwardly-minded kind of thing. I preached on several things:
- We are called to serve others, rather than to be served.
- God calls us to make disciples by sharing the good news of Christ.
- Church is more like a mission-driven aircraft carrier, instead of an entertainment-focused cruise ship.
In addition to Jesus’ “Great Commission” of Matthew 28, another mission-focused bible story is Luke 5:17-20:
17 One day Jesus was teaching, and Pharisees and teachers of the law were sitting there. They had come from every village of Galilee and from Judea and Jerusalem. And the power of the Lord was with Jesus to heal the sick. 18 Some men came carrying a paralyzed man on a mat and tried to take him into the house to lay him before Jesus. 19 When they could not find a way to do this because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and lowered him on his mat through the tiles into the middle of the crowd, right in front of Jesus.
20 When Jesus saw their faith, he said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven.”
At first, this seems like just another miracle-story where Jesus heals someone in need. But once we look closer, this has huge implications for our ministry and calling as followers of Christ.
The paralyzed man’s friends were quite impressive in how they acted. Facing a packed house and inaccessibility, they literally tore a hole in the roof so their friend could get to Jesus. Upon witnessing their faith and eagerness to pursue him, Jesus offered up his healing and redemptive power.
In applying this passage to our world today, it is clear that paralysis isn’t simply limited to a medical condition. We are all infected with the brokenness of separation from God. We all face sin. We all fall short. We all are in desperate need of a savior. Yes, so many people we know might be sick and in need of physical healing, but every single one of us needs the restoration that only God can provide.
As Christians, you and I are called to break down any barrier which might prevent someone from encountering Jesus. We are called to bring the message of hope outside the walls of the church and into the world. We are called to clearly communicate the gospel to others, which often means working to tear down walls or any sort of thing that might separate someone from God’s love. I think this is what Peter meant in 1 Peter 3:15- “But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.” Be prepared to preach Jesus in word and deed to everyone you meet. Be prepared to be a witness of God’s kingdom. Be prepared to meet people where they are. Be prepared to give some kind of answer when folks ask, “Why should I follow this Jesus guy?”
The man in Luke 5 needed healing and his friends were willing to do whatever it took to help him meet Jesus. And it is also noteworthy that Jesus didn’t scold the friends for opening up the house even more–he was just impressed with their faith! This shows that Jesus is primarily concerned with a relationship with us.
Everyone needs the healing of Jesus, and Jesus directly calls us to be preachers of his good news. Just like the paralyzed man’s friends, we need to see the barriers which might be preventing people from encountering God’s love. Follow their example in Luke 5 and be diligent and persistent in spreading God’s love.
Let’s be the kind of church that would be willing to tear down our roof if that will mean more people can experience that salvation of Jesus Christ.