Monday, May 2, 2016

Saved to Serve - Pastor Matt Johnson

This past Tuesday in our Jesus According to the Scriptures class we were studying Matthew, and I was struck by something. I've heard it before and read the scripture too, but it never hit me quite like it did at night. In Matthew 10, Jesus is sending out his disciples. He instructs them to go the the “lost sheep of Israel” and tell them “’The kingdom of heaven has come near.’” Them he tell them to heel the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, and drive out demons. And them he says it in verse 8: “Freely you have received; freely give.” 
Well, I got to thinking about that thing and how it applies to us modern-day disciples. Perhaps the most famous scripture ever is found in John 3:16. You know it, “ For God so loved the world that he gave his on and only son…” He gave Jesus to us, and Jesus followed suit and gave his life for us, thereby giving us our salvation. We received the greatest gift ever given for nothing. We didn't do anything to earn it or deserve it. God just said, “I love you, and I don't want you to stay where you are, and I know you can't change yourselves, so here is my son. He will provide the way for you, the path to follow, the example to emulate. Have my son because I love you.” That is difficult for me to grasp, it difficult for anyone to grasp. Nevertheless, I received that gift freely. 
Each of us that claims to follow Christ has received that gift freely. And, unfortunately, that is where it ends for a lot of us. Our selfish human nature kicks in, or our fear of ridicule, and we don't want to share this gift. What Jesus is telling us here is in order for everyone to have the chance to receive this gift, they have to have the chance, and we are to provide the chance. We are to give freely that which we have received from Christ. In our lives, this translates into acts of service. I can't raise the dead, but I can buy someone in need a hot meal. I can't cure diseases, but I can pour life into my wife and daughter. I can't exercise demons, but I can say a nice word to a stranger. 
Give the gift freely. For Christmas and birthdays, we do not force gifts upon people, but we give them gifts freely. The same applies here. Look for ways to ways to shine your gift of light into someone’s life. It could be your spouse, or family member, or stranger in the grocery store. It doesn't matter who it is. Just serve someone, because the love you share will not only change them, it will change you too. 
It is true that this is not easy. We have become accustomed to a relatively comfortable lifestyle of tv, Internet, smartphones, and eating out. Sharing our gift is not in our comfort zone, and it isn't meant to be. The place we grow closer to God is outside of our comfort zone, and that is where Jesus is sending us. He even says later in Chapter 10, “I am sending you to like sheep among the wolves.” We live in a world that seems to have heard it all before, and wants nothing to do with Jesus or God. They often ignore us or get mad at us or make fun of us, and we are to actively seek them out and share our gift with them. That is a scary thought, but it is an exciting thought too. We, by simply sharing the gift we have freely received, can change the world! Wow! Jesus called us the “light of the world”. So, let your light shine into the lives of other so that they will see Jesus in you and you will glorify God.
So my challenge to you is to find one more opportunity to serve each day for a week, and see if you are not closer to God and participating in life change at the end of it. 
We should not lord our gift of salvation over others; we should share our gift of salvation by serving other. 

Pastor Matt Johnson

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