Last Friday a horrible shooting death occurred in our country, leaving this country in shock and pain during this Christmas season. As I woke up this morning I am reminded how one year ago, that could have been me.
One year ago, I started attending a year long bible study, under the prompting of my parents. I didn’t want anything to do with Jesus nor His church. For all I was concerned, they were all frauds, and the message He had to give was a lie. From the moment I started going, I pushed myself away, and didn’t want anything to do with anyone. Before in church, or in school, I would stand off to the side, and no one would could speak to me, or if they did, it was because of their guilty conscious. But these people were different. The more I pushed myself away, the more they would love, and the more they would try to find out about me. They were interested in me for who I was, with all my depression, and anger, and pushing them away. For months I was not interested, and I became even more rebellious, but the love and care never quit. Even when I tried to stop attending, the head guy would call me up and say that they had missed me that night and looked forward to seeing me the next week. I was baffled, because I was invisible to everyone else, that churches I had been at before I had never loved me enough to call me when I didn’t attend an event. This was a new thing, these people were reaching out to me, before I reached out to them.
I was that outcast, I was sick, and I was needy, but Jesus wanted a relationship with me. Nothing that I did prompted this. Jesus loved me so much and He came to save and heal the people like me. The people that had no hope and no purpose, and He came to give me a purpose. I had no joy and no peace, and He came to give me joy and peace. He came so that I might have abundant live in Him. And throughout the year, Jesus has given me the strength to reach out, to reach farther than I could ever reach, to touch others that are outcast, and needy and sick. Those that the world throws in the garbage and sees as worthless, Jesus sees as priceless. Jesus comes through the junkyard of life and picks up the old, broken, used, abused people and He heals them. Jesus did not come to save the healthy, He came to save and heal those that were lost. While Jesus was on earth He did not spend most of His time with the Pharisees and teachers of the law, He spent time with tax collectors, and thieves and murderers, and He ate dinner with them. And I am convinced as followers of Him that is what we are supposed to do.
Jesus calls us to dive head first into this world and get dirty. To not conform to this world, but to show Christ’s love to the world. That’s what I love about my church community. We have such a diverse population on Sunday mornings from homeless people, to college kids, to newlyweds, to broken people. The fact is we are all broken in some way and we all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. But God is there wanting to heal us and bind our wounds. He loves us so much more than we could ever imagine. He does not condemn us.
“Therefore, no condemnation now exists for those in Christ Jesus. For the Spirit’s law of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and death.”(Romans 8:1-2)
Right here, right now, there are people dying in this world. They are starving for love, affection, acceptance, hope and purpose. Tell them about Jesus and how He came to seek and save the lost. That He came to heal the sick, and broken heart-ed. Jesus never discards anyone, He will never stop loving. Jesus can use you today to open up His love to them.
So during this Christmas season reach out, reach out farther than you think you could ever go, because God’s reach is farther than yours. Reach out to those that are fallen, broken. Invite the homeless into your homes for Christmas dinner, invite veterans that are discarded to sing carrols with you and your family, or even take part in giving a toy to orphan this Christmas. Christ went above and beyond to reach the sick and save those that were outcast and I believe we should too. Christ’s love can change anyone, just like me, from being an outcast to being a child of His. Give the gift of life, abundant life, tell all of the love of the Father. He will change their depression into joy. He will take their worthlessness and give them purpose, He will take their abuse and give them love, true love that never leaves or forsakes them. It is the greatest love ever experienced and it will change them.