I Don’t Want People Who Will Inconvenience Me
Probably during this time of the year more that any other I am reminded that our community and world is overflowing with people who are searching for some type of meaning. Their days are filled with desperation and they can’t seem to find relief.
They may put on masks of happiness and appear fine to everyone, but when they return to their homes at night they cry themselves to sleep because their life is pointless and they long to find something in life to make them happy and give them a sense of meaning. They look at their lives and wonder what it is all about.
I don’t remember who first said that the church was supposed to be a hospital for the hurting not a museum for the saved, but I believe they were spot on. God has given us the personal responsibility to reach these hurting people. We need to understand that the church above all else is a place for people who have problems.
This Church was designed for the single mother who works two jobs to support her kids.
This Church is for the drug addict who can’t stop his habit.
This Church is for the young person who struggles with self esteem.
This Church is for the young couple who lives together and has never been exposed to the best way to build a home.
This Church is for the man who does not respect his boss, so he steals from the company and from his coworkers.
This Church is for the housewife who goes out searching for some excitement in the arms of a man that belongs to someone else.
This Church is for the alcoholic who is ready to admit he needs help.
This Church is for the person who is always there, always contrary, and just drives you crazy.
There is a great passage in Ezekiel 34:16 where God says He will, “Search for the lost, bring back those that stray away, put bandages on those that are hurt, and make the weak strong." Those of us who claim to be followers of Christ are the ones who God sends out to bring the lost home. Because we understand that God wants all people saved, which will cause the church to grow.
Time and time again we read in the scriptures that God wants everyone us to be in a saved relationship with Him. "For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved John 3:17.
This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.1 Timothy 2:3-4.
For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all, Titus 2:11
As we have looked over the past few weeks that includes people that we are afraid of, just like God desired for Saul of Tarsus to be saved. If you remember the first century church was afraid of this man Saul who went about killing their Christian brethren. He would not have made it on anyone 10 people I want to share Christ with this week list. But God even wanted Saul to be saved and He was able to use Paul mightily in His Kingdom.
God wants people of every color and nationality saved. It’s just like we teach our children when they are very young. Red and Yellow, Black and White they are precious in His sight.
God desires for people who have had different growth experiences than we have, and people that my friends won’t like, and even people who are not immediately responsive to the Gospel call to be saved.
I would like for you to take a moment and think about that one person who turns your stomach. Think about that one person who makes your skin crawl at the very mention of their name. You know that one person who maybe has cheated you, or who has done you dirty. The one who has cause you some physical, financial, or emotional harm. The one person who when they enter a room you immediately make a run for the door. Have you got that person in your mind? Now think about them while you listen to 2 Peter 3:9: The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance
You see that person that you have in your mind, God wants them to be saved. God offers them the same forgiveness that He offers you. He wants you to invite them in, and give them your parking spot and your favorite pew; you know that one that you have been sitting in for the past 40 years. He wants you to show them that He loves them also. And that’s where we hit the snag.
If we are truly trying to be pleasing to God then we need to constantly examine ourselves to see if we are following God's will or our will. That same Saul that the first century church struggled with was led by the Spirit to write these words found in 2 Corinthians 13:5: Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?-- If you cannot tell that Jesus Christ is among you, it means you have failed the test...
You know more often than not it is not just those people who make our skin crawl where we fail the test. I wonder how many people I and we pass on a daily basis who are hurting and we ignore them because getting involved would be inconvenient. We forget that when our soul is broken what we long for is a Savior, and by not getting involved we miss an amazing opportunity to lead someone to Christ. We need to be perceptive enough as Christians to notice the hurting people around us and give them what they really need, Jesus.
But even though we want the church to grow we may not want those hurting people, or anyone for that matter who will be an inconvenience.
Remember that the struggles we face are not new or unique to us. In Luke 10 Jesus tells a Parable that addresses this very issue. (Read Luke 10: 29-37)
I have heard this story so many times it’s easy to turn your mind off. I cant’ count how many times I have heard folks make excuses for the Priest and Levite or vilify them. Today I don‘t want to do either. But what I want to do is for you and me to understand the basic truth of the story. There was someone in need and someone loved God enough to be inconvenienced.
There are so many things that get in the way, of what we want to do. And unfortunately we refuse to look at the inconveniences as an opportunity to please God. Let’s look at some first century inconveniences and see how God handled them.
The first one is found in Matthew 19:13-15
Then children were brought to him that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples rebuked the people, but Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” And he laid his hands on them and went away
Now before we get to hard on the disciples let’s try to understand what was going on. It was time for Jesus to get up and teach the multitudes. They had been gathering for hours to hear these words of life that only Jesus could offer. The crowd was ready and the disciples were ready but Jesus was overrun by little kids.
In the minds of the disciples the most important thing right now was to get Jesus to the crowds and He didn’t have time to deal with the nuisance of these kids. But Jesus knew that the inconvenience was worth it.
Our second inconvenience is found in Mark 10:46-52
Then they came to the town of Jericho. As Jesus was leaving there with his followers and a great many people, a blind beggar named Bartimaeus son of Timaeus was sitting by the road. When he heard that Jesus from Nazareth was walking by, he began to shout, "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!" Many people warned the blind man to be quiet, but he shouted even more, "Son of David, have mercy on me!" Jesus stopped and said, "Tell the man to come here." So they called the blind man, saying, "Cheer up! Get to your feet. Jesus is calling you." The blind man jumped up, left his coat there, and went to Jesus. Jesus asked him, "What do you want me to do for you?" The blind man answered, "Teacher, I want to see." Jesus said, "Go, you are healed because you believed." At once the man could see, and he followed Jesus on the road
Now honestly this one hurts. I am a planner, Trista calls me something else. If we are going to take a trip I want to know before we even leave how we are going to get there, where and how many times we are going to have to stop, and for what reasons. If my plans get a little catawampus then I get a little catawampus. Can’t you just see it? Jesus and His disciples are leaving Jericho, on their way to Jerusalem to make their triumphant entry and they run into a little problem, named Bartimaeus.
The disciples are not real interested in being bothered by one man, they believe that Jesus is about to go and take His rightful place on the throne in Jerusalem. They think that He is about to lead the revolt that will place the Jews back on top. But once again they show that they don’t anything about Jesus or His plans.
You see Jesus is getting ready to be crucified. He is on his way to Jerusalem where He will be falsely arrested, tried, and convicted. It is under a pile of lies and deceit that He will be lead away to Golgotha and crucified, for all mankind, but before He makes it there is one little inconvenience that must be dealt with. One inconvenience that demands the attention of the Messiah and once again Jesus shows His love for us by taking time to love us one at a time.
Lastly in James 2:1-9 we are taught how to deal with those people who we would believe that are beneath our dignity. You know those people who are dirty, or poor, or who just don’t measure up to our standards.
My brothers, do not show favoritism as you hold on to the faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ. For example, a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and dressed in fine clothes, and a poor man dressed in dirty clothes also comes in. If you look with favor on the man wearing the fine clothes and say, “Sit here in a good place,” and yet you say to the poor man, “Stand over there,” or, “Sit here on the floor by my footstool,” haven’t you discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? Listen, my dear brothers:Didn’t God choose the poor in this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom that He has promised to those who love Him? Yet you dishonored that poor man. Don’t the rich oppress you and drag you into the courts? Don’t they blaspheme the noble name that was pronounced over you at your baptism? Indeed, if you keep the royal law prescribed in the Scripture, Love your neighbor as yourself, you are doing well. But if you show favoritism, you commit sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors
I am not going to spend any more time on this point than to say that I am guilty. I have played the better than game with myself and with other people forgetting that God desires everyone to be saved even those who are dirty and poor.
God wants us to reach out to those who we might think of as an inconvenience. He wants us to reach out to the:
The single mother who works two jobs to support her kids.
The drug addict who can’t stop his habit.
The young person who struggles with self esteem.
The young couple who lives together and has never been exposed to the best way to build a home.
The man who does not respect his boss, so he steals from the company and from his coworkers.
The housewife who goes out searching for some excitement in the arms of a man that belongs to someone else.
The alcoholic who is ready to admit he needs help.
This person who is always there, always contrary, and just drives you crazy.
In God’s eyes they fall into the same category that you and I fall into, they are a sinner whose wages are death. Whether we think of them as an inconvenience or not, God wants to show them His love.
Some of the greatest opportunities we will ever have to change this world for the cause of Christ are hidden in the inconveniences of life. What we must honestly decide is if we are willing to be inconvenienced for the cause of Christ.
Today do you want the church to grow? Do you want it to grow here if it means that you will have to give up some of your conveniences? How many new converts do you want? What kind of new converts do you want? And does God need to check with you before He lets them in?
Let me remind you gain the type of person God wants in His church.
First He wants all who are burdened with sin. "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light" Matthew 11: 28-30
Next we wants everyone who wants to be saved. And the Spirit and the bride say, "Come!" And let him who hears say, "Come!" And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely Revelation 22:17