My dog hates my crutches. Not that he knows what they are, but something about me walking around with these strange shiny sticks has him freaked out.
I really noticed it today when I tried to let him into the house. He was on the patio, looking through the glass door with that wistful dog-look of longing. Satchel is a house dog and a social animal, so time along outside is a pure drag for him. Yet when I, feeling pity for the dog, hobbled to the door to let him in, he refused to enter. Tail wagging furiously, he simply could not bring himself to walk past my crutches.
Life’s better for Satchel inside the house, so I made it my mission to find a way to let him in. I scooted around behind the door and fairly easily coaxed him over the threshold at that point. I helped him find his way in.
In my last blog I wrote that life is more enjoyable and makes more sense when there is a purpose, like a destination or reason for a Sunday afternoon drive. At Bethany Church, our purpose is “to make Christ Jesus known in our communities and beyond.” How we do that becomes our mission.
In a way, we are like my crippled self inviting the reluctant dog into the house: I have my own limitations right now, my own flaws and scars, and I could not pick him up or force him in. I had to adjust my way of doing things so he could find his own way in.
Isn’t that a little how it is when we relate to the spiritually lost? We want them to know the better life of following Christ, but there are obstacles that hold them back. They might not know their own need, or they might have had a bad experience with the church, or they may be angry at God for a hardship they’ve suffered. Our role is to help them find their way into a relationship with God. We can’t make it happen, and we can’t be upset with them for keeping their distance. They don’t know yet what it would mean to yield to Christ Jesus.
So that’s our mission. We’re here to help others to Jesus. At Bethany Church, we’re stating our mission this way: “Helping neighbors, friends and family to find their way into the grace and truth of Jesus Christ and follow him together.”
Keep in mind that it is God’s will to save. 1 Timothy 2:4-5 reminds us that God “wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth. For there is one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and humanity – the man Jesus Christ.”
Neither you nor I can save anyone. I’m not sure we can even “lead them to Christ”, at least not in any forceful way. But we can invite. We can explain. We can listen. We can share, we can testify, we can model. We can adjust our way of doing things so we are less in the way of God’s grace. We do all we can to help our neighbors, friends and family to find their way into a relationship with God by faith in Jesus. And when they come, we’ll follow Jesus together.
Back here at home, Satchel is much happier in the house, but he’ll be much happier when these terrifying crutches are gone. I’ll be happier too!
Brian Wiebe-Lead Pastor