Imagine that judgement day is here and you are standing before Jesus. Imagine that you grew up outside of the church and nobody ever shared a Bible with you or even bothered to explain what was going to happen in the future. Imagine Jesus telling you to go get in the line where they throw you into the fire because you did not accept Christ as your savior. I suspect you would go kicking and screaming saying that wasn’t fair. You would probably shout back at Jesus, “How was I supposed to know?”
In Mark 16:15, Jesus said to go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. He said to go into ALL the world. Like many of you, that is why I am passionate about missions. That is also why I went with a team to Peru on a mission trip. We have an extremely important message to tell others; in fact, lives depend on that message.
Romans 10:13 says, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” And then verse 14 asks the obvious: “How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?” That is so obvious that you don’t even need me to explain that to you.
But I like explaining things. Let’s imagine that you know of someone that is locked in a room that is on fire and the only way they can get out is to unlock the door with a key. The problem is that they don’t know where the key is, but let’s say that you know where the key is. Would you take the time to call them and let them know where the key was so they wouldn’t die in the fire? Or would you not really have the time or energy to make that call? I am very confident that each person reading this devotion would take the time to call that person to tell them where the key was. People respond with crazy amounts of urgency when there is a life to be saved in a fire.
So why don’t people respond with the same urgency when trying to save a life for eternity? We have information that people need to hear to save their life. We have the “key” that they need to save their life, and that key is Jesus. If they don’t ever hear about Jesus, they are going to be sent to that line where they get thrown in the fire. In my story and in the future in real life, you are going to die in the fire if you don’t have the “key”. Someone needs to tell them about the key to life.
Don’t be the reason that someone says, “How was I supposed to know.”
We’ve all heard the story of Jonah and how he tried to run away from God. Of course, we know that didn’t work out too well for him. He had to sit in the belly of a giant fish until he decided that he would listen to God. We all have our Nineveh. It’s that one thing in the back of your mind that you know you need to do but it’s the last thing you want to do. Jonah ran away because he was scared and often we do the same thing.
For a while, my Nineveh was mission work. I heard God speaking to me through the people at my church calling me to get involved but that scared me. I haven’t even graduated high school yet God was calling me to leave the country and do His work. That seemed much bigger than I thought I was able to do. So I just ignored the nagging in the back of my mind for as long as I could. Obviously, I didn’t end up sitting in the literal stomach of a huge fish. However, I always felt drained and never quite right. Eventually, I got the hint and I talked to someone from my church who had decided to sell all her stuff and move to Guatemala for mission work. By the end of the conversation, we were making plans for me to come down and do missions with her for a week. After that God had opened my heart and I felt joy for the first time in a while. This then led to the opportunity to join the LHI team in going to Peru. Both opportunities have been nothing short of a blessing.
The amazing thing is that if God calls you to do something He’s not going to send you into the situation unprepared and empty-handed. I felt unqualified for what God was calling me to do, but all I had to do was open up my heart to what God was trying to show me. So today as you think about what God is calling you to do, whether it be a huge project or just a random act of kindness, let God guide you, without trying to run from Him.
I have a friend. His name is Edwin. Edwin was a pastor and teacher who shepherded hundreds of pastors and members of his congregation. He preached to thousands under stadium lights. He lived in a gorgeous house surrounded by a sea of green grass in Peru. Edwin is a studious man who came to believe that God is One. He then wrote a letter to the head director of his denomination exclaiming the newfound truth that was revealed to him!
The head director proceeded to read his letter aloud, televised to the entire church. He explained to the church that Edwin had abandoned them and was now committing adultery with another ‘woman’ (church). Rumors flew throughout the denomination. The head director told the church that Edwin was initiated into Satanism by Anthony Buzzard. Edwin’s best friend for 28 years told him that he was going insane thinking he was the ‘New Martin Luther’. “In one single day”, Edwin says, “I lost all of my friends.” He was rejected.
Jesus was also rejected by the crowd of people that had just welcomed him into Jerusalem a few days before. Picking up in Mark 15, Jesus is rejected by the city whereas Barabbas, a murderer, is embraced. The townsmen shout “Crucify Him…CRUCIFY HIM!” Sadly, rejection is a familiar feeling for Jesus.
Jesus was rejected by his family members.
We learn in John 7:5 that “not even his brothers believed in him”.
Jesus was rejected by people who claimed to love him.
Two of his most beloved friends, Judas and Peter, betray and deny him.
Jesus was rejected by his community.
Jesus was “without honor” in his hometown of Nazareth and now the community that just welcomed him triumphantly on a colt has disowned him.
Jesus was a revolutionist. He came to establish a new world government – to bring about a new convent not just for Jews, but Gentiles too! And a side-effect of radical change is rejection by some. We all face rejection at times and it always hurts. When we are rejected we feel like we are not wanted, loved or even valued. If we are not careful, we can even begin to reject ourselves. But I challenge you this, the next time you face rejection from your friends, classmates, coworkers or even family members, find peace knowing that we are not of this world. Jesus died an excruciating death on the cross not so that we can fit in with the world, but so that we can be a light to our peers even when it feels awkward, intimidating and uncomfortable. Be strong and courageous, friend!
After Jesus was rejected in the most dehumanizing way possible, the temple curtain was torn from top to bottom, symbolizing the sacrifice Jesus paid so that we can have a direct relationship with our Father, God. There are no divisions between God’s perfect peace and us. I want to belong to God, not the world.
Oh, and my friend, Edwin? He is now a pastor who preaches the truth of our One True God and His Son, Jesus Christ. Edwin, his wife and children now live in a one bedroom home in Peru where Edwin and his wife, Aleida, lead a home-ministry. He also mentors ten other congregations and pastors in Peru who have learned from Edwin and believe in our One True God. This year, Edwin and Aleida travelled to Ecuador and Chile to spread hope of the Kingdom of God. Edwin was rejected by men, but embraced by Christ.
This week you will hear tidbits from a different member of the 2019 Peru Team who ministered in Peru this summer as we finish Mark. Thankfully, the narrative of Jesus’ life doesn’t stop here…Monday is coming.
Photo: Edwin & Aleida’s home ministry