Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you may now dismiss your servant in peace.
For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all nations:
a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel. – Simeon, a righteous man
Someday you will read or hear that Billy Graham is dead. Don’t you believe a word of it. I shall be more alive than I am now. I will just have changed my address. I will have gone into the presence of God. – BG
We heard this week that Donna had died. Donna’s life started with her laughing mother force feeding her vodka until she was comatose at 13. It went downhill from there. By the time we met her, she was living with Shane, and in and out of mental institutions for schizophrenia. She couldn’t remember our names, but always called us “the Christians.” When we last saw her, her black eyes were blazing and ‘the Christians’ were followed by a load of expletive in the middle of the street. We were convinced that in amongst everything else, at the heart of it was demonic possession. I desperately wished there had been a breakthrough.
Death is a subject the world avoids at all costs, especially in the West. We watch as family members downsize their lifestyle to the extent that even the memories, the things that are perhaps most precious, begin to fade. The starkness is that we leave this world with precisely what we came into it with.
The salvation that is found in Jesus is his most compelling attribute. What he does in a person’s life today, the transformation of character and personality is glorious, but it pales against an eternity in his presence. The kingdom of God within us is vital to how we live, but for every mortal there is a line in the sand called death, and it determines everything from that moment forward. Jesus came to save us into eternity, and it was principally death that he conquered.
God has also called us to play our part. In the book of Ezekiel, God tells the prophet that if he doesn’t proclaim the words the Lord gives to him, Ezekiel will have the responsibility of people’s eternity on his hands – their blood. This is immensely disturbing, and I have been asking myself this week, whether Jesus implied the same thing throughout the NT. Does God hold me responsible for not proclaiming his truth to my neighbour?
Spurgeon reminded his congregation about their devotion to telling others of Jesus and warned them against complacency. He even went as far as saying if we weren’t that interested in people’s souls, then our own salvation was questionable.
It appears to be getting harder to tell people about Jesus in this country than ever before – now there are so many competing religions and philosophies. But how hard was it for Jesus to convince those around him he was the Messiah, or Paul in Asia Minor that there was an after life beyond the ‘unknown God?’ Simply, it’s always been hard it doesn’t matter where you are.
One thing is for certain, and that is we are running out of time. You, me the clock on our lives is ticking louder than ever. That means less time to achieve the work which God has given us in our neighbourhood.
The devil will put in front of us, every distraction imaginable and then some. Further, he will put in front of those we speak to the same distractions. We must never give up, but always keep coming back to the simple work that is ahead of each of us. That is, proclaiming the name of Jesus to a world that needs him just as much as it always has.
We must open their eyes to the observation that death is coming, but it doesn’t have to be final.