Burdened for Others
By Greg Burton
We had a party at our home in London to both celebrate my 50th birthday (no comments please) and also to celebrate our family being in London for 1 year! More than a few times that night I stood back and marveled at the Lord’s provision as the room was filled with friends that just one year ago we hadn’t even met! There were neighbors, home school families, guys I coach with, church friends, and others whom, in just one year, we had broken bread with, laughed with, cried with, and built relationships with. But what moves us the most are the friends in our home that night who do not follow Jesus.
In this burden for our friends who do not follow Jesus, I have been greatly encouraged by Matthew 9, starting with the first two verses. Some men brought their friend, who was paralyzed, to meet Jesus (Matt 9:2). Jesus says that, because of the faith of the man’s friends, He forgives the paralyzed man of his sin! He is saved! To be clear, the paralyzed man is saved NOT because of his faith, but rather because of the faith of HIS FRIENDS who bring him to Jesus. And, as usual, there are some religious leaders watching who respond, “This fellow is blaspheming!” I love how they call the Savior of the world a “fellow.” So, what does Jesus do in response? He says (or I wish He had said): that was the hard part “fellows,” forgiving his sins! But Jesus does then, soooo matter of factly, tell the paralyzed man, “Get up, take your mat, and go home!” We have no response from the religious leaders after that!
What if Jesus had just healed the man of being paralyzed? It would have been a great thing, a miraculous thing, but it wouldn’t have been eternal. It wouldn’t have reconciled the man to God. We can do a lot of things for people that make us feel better and even do a lot of good for them. But only Jesus can give people the only thing they really need: forgiveness of sin and eternal life with God! I may be able to help basketball players become better players, become better men, and work harder and that is all good. But I can do nothing eternal for them; nothing to reconcile them to God! I have to show them to Jesus! We are ambassadors of Christ and HIS plan is to use US to draw our friends to Him, as the fruits of the Holy Spirit work through us.
We have no dialogue between Jesus and the men who brought their friend to Him. But we know that they had experienced Jesus. We know they trusted in Jesus’ power and had the faith to lead their friend to Jesus. Are you taking your unsaved friends excitedly to Jesus in prayer and trusting that, in His power and timing, He will save them?
Let us not be so quick to knock the religious leaders because, while we may not call Jesus a blasphemer, if we are not praying, working, and trusting Him for the salvation of those friends of ours who don’t know Jesus, are we any better? Are we willing to look a little weird, sound a little odd, do things a little differently, or even stand out as we live for Christ amongst family or friends who do not know Jesus? A little discomfort may be all the persecution we ever face. We are not only commanded to make disciples but are promised that we exist to “do” the “good works” that God has “prepared in advance for us” to do (Ephesians 2:10). He even promises that, if we show up in obedient expectation, “He who has called you is faithful, He will surely do it” (1 Thess. 5:24). God put you in that office, territory, job, gym, and/or community so He can use your unique gifts and personality to “work” in the lives of the unsaved people you build relationship with. Sadly, there must have been very few with faith like the friends of the paralyzed man because, at the end of Matthew 9, Jesus says; “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.” Will we be counted as one of the few?
The party that we had at our home in London last week was awesome, but it’s all a part of working towards and praying for our friends who don’t know Jesus having their names written in the Lamb’s Book of Life and joining us in eternity worshipping our King Jesus!
Questions to Consider
Will you write a list of people who you engage with regularly who do not know Jesus and commit to pray for them daily?
Have you committed this year to spend time in God’s word daily? If you have then, commit to tell one person this week something God has shown you in your time with Him!
What would Jesus say about your faith? God is a good Father, He doesn’t want to guilt you, He wants to grow you!
Greg Burton serves with CBM of the UK based in London. To learn more about the ministry of CBM visit our website [www.childrensbibleministries.net].