Evangelism has never been my strong suit. I enjoy talking about Jesus and the things of God’s kingdom, but I wouldn’t call myself an evangelist. I know I need to be more bold while being less offensive (let the cross of Christ be the offense). I’m praying that God will grow me in this area. This morning, as I was reading the Gospel of Mark, I was reminded how we ought to act when we recognize Jesus.
53 When they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret and moored the boat.54 When they got out of the boat, people at once recognized him, 55 and rushed about that whole region and began to bring the sick on mats to wherever they heard he was. 56 And wherever he went, into villages or cities or farms, they laid the sick in the marketplaces, and begged him that they might touch even the fringe of his cloak; and all who touched it were healed. (Mark 6 NRSV)
Wherever Jesus went he caused a stir. In this scene we can see that his recognition caused a widespread scramble to bring the sick to him. “Wherever he went,” we are told, those who recognized brought those in need to be made well by him.
Why don’t we see much of this any more? This absolutely desperate hope that Jesus does offer a solution to the problems we face. Why don’t we run around bring those in need to where we know Jesus is at? I think that there are two reasons. First, I’m afraid some of us no longer recognize Jesus. I’m not sure how this happens, but I know that if we fail to stay in love with Jesus* then we just might stop recognizing him. Second, we recognize Jesus but we’ve stopped believing that his answers are any good. I know this can be a temptation for those who sit in gathered worship on Sundays and watch the news throughout the week. That is why I often pray the following prayer,
Dear Lord, You have sent me into this world to preach your word. So often the problems of the world seem so complex and intricate that your word strikes me as embarrassingly simple. Many times I feel tongue-tied in the company of people who are dealing with the world’s social and economic problems. But you, O Lord, said, ‘Be clever as serpents and innocent as doves.’ Let me retain innocence and simplicity in the midst of this complex world. I realize that I have to be informed, that I have to study the many aspects of the problems facing the world, and that I have to try to understand as well as possible the dynamics of contemporary society. But what really counts is that all this information, knowledge and insight allow me to speak more clearly and unambiguously your truthful word. Do not allow evil powers to seduce me with the complexities of the world’s problems, but give me the strength to think clearly, speak freely, and act boldly in your service. Give me the courage to show the dove in a world so full of serpents. Amen.**
There’s good news here, though. There’s always good news. “And as many as touched him were healed.” If we will but bring them to Jesus they will be healed. May we find the eyes to see and the courage to come.
— — — — — — — — —
* Three Simple Rules: (1) do no harm; (2) do all the good you can; (3) stay in love with Jesus.