Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Life and death

It's been a few days since I've posted anything.  A couple of weeks ago my wife and I were gone for a few days to visit our son and his family.  We returned home on Monday and planned several other things for the remainder of our vacation time.  That all changed Tuesday morning when our phone rang and we were informed that a brother-in-law had unexpectedly passed away that morning.  The remainder of the week was spent visiting with family, preparing food, and going to the funeral home.  I've spent the last few days just trying to catch up with everything that I let slide during the previous week.

As I thought about the death of my brother-in-law it really reminded me of the importance of the work we do.  He had recently had shoulder surgery and was going to therapy for that, but otherwise was in good health.  When his wife left for work that morning there was certainly no indication that when she came home for lunch that she would find that he had passed away. Life is short, the end can come at any time, and eternity is forever.

As pastors and church leaders we have numerous responsibilities that demand our time.  It can be very easy to get so caught up in adminstrative tasks and "church work" that we forget that one of our primary obligations is to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with other people.  There really is no guarantee that we will ever have another chance to do so.  Anyone can draw his or her last breath at any moment, and, if we believe the Bible to be true, at that moment we will enter into an eternity of our choosing.  Countless numbers of people are entering into an eternity separated from God, and many of them never heard a clear and compelling explaination of the Gospel.  To make it even worse, some of them lived within the shadows of our steeples.

Several years ago a girl in our youth group asked me to talk to her parents about God and the church.  I made an appointment to talk to her mother, and as we began our conversation she admitted to me she had never been inside a church in her life for any reason.  She further admitted she didn't know enough about God to even ask a question.  At the time I wondered how anyone surrounded by so many churches and with so many opportunities to hear the Gospel to have never heard it, but since then I have met many others just like her.  The good news is that both she and her husband later committed their lives to Christ.  The bad news is that there are countless others like them all around us who have still not heard the Gospel.

What is your church's strategy for reaching out to those people in your community who have no personal relationship with Jesus Christ?  How much of your church's budget will be spent on such efforts?  What specific individuals have the people of your church targeted with their prayers and their efforts to reach with the gospel in 2010?  How will you make the Gospel known and relevant to the people you encounter this year?  The eternal destination of some people may hinge on your answers to these questions.

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