I’ve been in the midst of a New Places for New People sermon series. This week’s message asked the have we made room, or are we even willing to make room for new people in our lives and in our churches? And I pose that question to you as well. (The whole sermon, entitled “Make Room”, can be viewed on Bucklin UMC’s youtube page HERE.)
Take a moment to read Luke 5:17-26 before you read on.
Everywhere that Jesus went, crowds showed up. In this particular case, Jesus is in someone’s home and we are told there isn’t even standing room left. Because of their love for their friend, these fellows go to extreme lengths to get him in front of Jesus. They believe in Jesus’ power to heal and trust that he will heal their paralyzed friend.
What if the man refused to get up and walk? If he didn’t believe Jesus could heal him, he might have stayed on his mat and failed to receive the healing Christ offered him. Would that have disproved Jesus? No, it would have proven a lack of faith in the man.
When we read God’s word or receive a message from the Lord as we listen to the word preached, our response needs to be one of action. Paul seems to be having that difficulty with the church in Corinth as well in 2 Corinthians 6:1-13.
He says to the people, “As God’s Co-workers we urge you not to receive God’s grace in vain.” Notice there is not a comma after co-workers. Paul is not saying that he and his colleagues are God’s co-workers, but that all believers are! I am God’s co-worker, AND so are you.
Though you may not be called to vocational ministry in church leadership, you are called to act on the word of the Lord and the guiding of the Holy Spirit in your life. Not doing so would be to receive God’s grace in vain- receiving grace and doing nothing with it.
Paul goes on to list all of the hardships and sacrifices he and his colleagues endure every day in order to share the gospel with the world and strengthen the churches they’ve planted. They have been beaten, imprisoned, poor, hungry, dishonored, regarded as imposters or false teachers; yet none of these things can stop them from acting on the grace they have received by sharing the Gospel with others.
Paul says to the people, “We have done all of this for your sake. We have opened our hearts to you. Now what are you willing to risk for someone else? Open wide your hearts also!”
Matthew Henry’s commentary reads: “The gospel, when faithfully preached, and fully received, betters the condition of even the poorest.” (p. 1125) Maybe our own conditions are too comfortable that we don’t feel a need for anything better.
What about the conditions of our neighbors who do not know Jesus Christ as their savior and Lord? They are already dead because of sin. Are we going to just leave them there when we possess the lifegiving truth of the Gospel?
On our passage from Luke’s Gospel, Matthew Henry’s Commentary reads, “How many are there in our assemblies, where the gospel is preached, who do not sit under the word, but sit by! It is to them as a tale that is told them, not a message that is sent to them. Observe the duties taught and recommended to us by the history of the paralytic. In applying to Christ, we must be very pressing and urgent; that is an evidence of faith, and is very pleasing to Christ.” (p. 948)
If we are not acting on the Gospel, then maybe we haven’t fully received it for ourselves. Is all of this a story that is told to you or is it a message that has been sent to you? If it has been sent to you, then what are you going to do with it?
Room on the Broom (Children’s book pictured above) is about a witch flying on her broom when her hat blows off. She gets down to find it. An animal has it and returns it to her, and they both get on the broom. The same thing happens with her hair bow, wand, and cauldron.
Then so many creatures are riding on the broom that it brakes, and they all crash in a swamp. A dragon threatens to eat the witch, but just then all her new friends appear looking like a swamp monster and save her from the dragon. Finally, she conjures up a new broom with comfortable seats for all.
If she hadn’t welcomed these new friends on to her broom, it wouldn’t have broken. But then when she was in trouble, she wouldn’t have had their support either. In her gratitude she created a new, permanent place for them in her life.
What are we afraid will break- thus keeping us from inviting new people into our lives and faith? How can we make room in our lives or our church for new people? How can we see our “broken brooms” as an opportunity for growth rather than loss?