“You don’t realise that it’s better for you that one man should die for the people, than for the whole nation to be destroyed”. He did not say this on his own; as High Priest at that time, he was led to prophesy that Jesus would die for the entire nation. And not only for that nation, but to bring together and unite all the children of God scattered around the world. – John 11:50-52
There are some gems in Scriptures, especially the Gospels. If we would take the time to saturate ourselves with what God is saying, and listen to his Spirit we would find them. So much in just a few sentences. An indication that grace would be open to the whole world, and as ever, Jesus at the centre of it all. This passage tells us that God has a family, that he has chosen them and intends to save them, and that his Son is the means of this salvation.
Such salvation will not be easy, or effortless even for God, but he will do what is necessary to make sure his family is intact. His family are global, they include us and the great news is he invites those who already belong to go out and find the others. At the moment, the others are lost.
Spreading the Gospel is the easiest and yet most challenging command. Sharing communion, giving, even praying are easier than talking to people about our faith. Nothing has changed since Jesus’ time. Yet, the rewards are out of this world! As we look back on this year coming into Christmas, these are some of our stories. It hasn’t been perfect, and there have been many disappointments and unknowns, but it has been so very worth it and it is good to recap.
Earlier in the year, we prayed for Steve on the beach, Steve the burly surf coach who was flooded with the peace of Christ, Nikki his girlfriend who was touched by the change in him from one simple prayer. It didn’t last long for Steve sadly, but Nikki hasn’t forgotten and we don’t believe the Lord has forgotten her.
We were able to share the Gospel with literally hundreds on the streets of our Sydney village, such as Alana and Mitchell, a young couple who we spent an hour talking to about the love of God and our sin, and how Jesus is the answer to both. We saw real engagement, tears, confession, sadness and yet hope, only the hope that Jesus brings. Nobody else can bring that change, and we are under no illusion as to who it is. We think of the German couple, one whose father was dying back in Germany, without hope. We were able to share that there is a hope, Jesus, and we prayed, saw more tears and more healing.
We prayed for 3 people who were very sick, yet so willing to be prayed for. It was late on a Sunday evening, outside the largest ‘church’ on the street and we had been out for most of the afternoon with little to show. Then my wife saw them, and we spent the next hour praying, sharing, laughing and crying. We walked off the street so uplifted.
Many of these we never saw again, but we know in our hearts that the Lord has not finished with them. They belong to the family of our Father, and we are just part of that. We will see some of them one day.
In the longer term, one of our gathering Ben, has been working with a married couple, let’s call them Peter and Jane. When I met them their marriage was in tatters, there was depression, prescription drugs, anger and hard heartedness. Ben has been seeing them, praying with them and sharing with them almost weekly. Most of the work was done with Peter the husband, and gradually there was change. One night, his wife Jane, who was especially hard hearted towards the Gospel, turned to their children in the car and said, “I think we need more of God in our lives, let’s start going to church.” Peter nearly crashed the car.
Since then, there has been dramatic transformation. A wife whose heart is softening all the time through tears and confession, a husband who has learned to love his wife no matter what, and both turning towards a God who wants them as his children. Last week, for the first time in 15 years, Peter left his medication for mental illness on the shelf, and chose to rely on God for healing. It is working.
We could go on. Alcatraz, the local government housing block, where God is using a tiny group of us to push back the dark and introduce the light through simple prayer and Discovery Bible Study. Small chinks of light shine through, such as the story where Frannie told us with a beaming smile that she managed to walk past the pokie machines and not spend her food money on gambling that week. A tiny victory, a child coming towards the Father.
All around the world, God’s children, being introduced to their loving Father, some for the very first time. In most cases, he uses his other children to introduce him, you, me. Such simple work, unpaid except for the unbelievable sensation and sense that we are returning the love back to the Father. What else do you want?
God is being pushed out of this country slowly, soon the churches will be told to close their doors or change their message through political correctness gone mad. Then what? Who will go out searching for the rest of God’s children, to introduce them to his Son such that “to all who believed in him (Jesus), he gave the right to be called the children of God.”
Happy Christmas to you all, it is an incredible story, one that will be retold throughout eternity. But, there is no better time than now to tell it to those around us.