GSFA Devotional: Bread for Our Journey
Trinity 9 (1 Aug 2021)
THE JOY OF LEADING A PERSON TO CHRIST
“For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” Luke 19:10
It is good to remind ourselves that the proclamation of the Gospel should not be neglected during this time of coping with a pandemic.
It is true that many are suffering all across the world in this prolonged time of disruption, distress and death. Beyond the statistics are the untold stories of persons facing economic hardship, social isolation, paralyzing fear, and deep despair. God’s mission propels us to care for the suffering with compassionate deeds of kindness and fervent prayer. It also propels us to share with them the saving love of God in Christ Jesus, who died for our sins and was raised from the dead to put us right with God in a new and endless relationship. It is this relationship which gives us strength all through life’s journey and brings us across to that glorious Day in eternity when God will wipe away every tear from the eyes of those who trust Him.
That is the good news we must proclaim as we join Jesus in His mission “to seek and save the lost.”
Jesus Shows the Way:
The verse we are considering comes at the end of the story of Zacchaeus (Luke 19:1-10 ). Zacchaeus was a chief tax collector for the Roman overlord. It was common knowledge that his wealth would have derived from over-charging his own Jewish people as well as from pay-offs from tax-collectors working under him. Zacchaeus was a wealthy man. But he also was a lonely and unfulfilled man. Jesus could see the emptiness of his soul beneath the layers of his greed and his disregard for his fellow-citizens. Jesus stopped for Zacchaeus and said to him, “I must stay at your house today.” For Jesus, it was a matter of divine necessity that Zacchaeus be ushered into the kingdom of God ... indeed the kingdom that his forefather Abraham believed in and greeted from afar.
The kingdom of God is the dynamic reign of God in Christ that begins here and now in this life and extends beyond the grave to the realm of perfect love, justice, and righteousness which God will install in the new heaven and earth. Through fellowship with Jesus, Zacchaeus came to see that this kingdom is a liberating, glorious and moral kingdom. It is a new way of life to be entered into through personal faith in Jesus and true repentance. He then showed his repentance by committing then & there to ‘amendment of life’: to giving away half his wealth to the poor and repaying four-fold those he had defrauded. The love of Jesus has set him free from the ‘captivity of the rich.’ That is the sheer GRACE of God. Joy floods Zacchaeus’ soul and floods our Saviour’s heart too!
That is the joy that awaits us when we are used by God to lead a person to Christ!
Participating with Jesus Today
I have been challenged in these days to be more intentional and more urgent to seek out the lost and share Christ with them. I find opportunities in everyday conversations to raise people’s awareness of the living God and to point them to Jesus. I am more ready to interrupt my plans for the day and to stop for people who need a listening ear or whom the Holy Spirit places on my heart.
Recently, a neighbour I had shared the Gospel with and taken to an Alpha Course meeting a couple of years ago passed away after a battle with cancer. I had not been in contact with David my neighbour in recent months. At the Wake service, his daughter told me the good news of how her father had come to a living faith in Christ and had grown as a disciple in the months before his final breath. David’s testimony to his family was that when he came to recognize and accept Jesus as Lord, he could see “how God connected all the ‘dots’ in his life.” By ‘dots’ he meant all the people along life’s journey who had spoken to him about Jesus and all the circumstances in his life that had exposed him to the Christian faith. I was not the person involved at the time when David committed his life to Jesus, but in the grace of God I was ‘a connecting dot’.
Nowadays, even in my normal Sunday preaching at church I deliberately include a summary of the Gospel within the context and flow of the particular sermon. You can therefore imagine my exceeding JOY when after a Sunday morning service recently, the Pastor of the church excitedly told me that a person from another faith had put his personal trust in Jesus in response to my sermon. This person had been “looking in” at the Christian faith over the last few years but in the fullness of time he heard the Shepherd’s irresistible call as he heard the sermon that morning and he was ready to make the cost of commitment. His friends who had been praying for him were delirious with joy.
The Spirit is Moving
I have no doubt that the Lord wants to engage every member of His church in His mission “to seek and save the lost.” The lost are scattered all over the world, including the digital world. So are the people of God – we too are scattered in the world, and we have been given our own group of persons to reach for the Lord. May you see every lost person in ‘your world’ like how Jesus saw Zacchaeus: as a child of God the Creator, whom the Father longs to bring home to Himself and to usher into new life of His kingdom.
I believe the Holy Spirit is moving in these days to impart such a passion for the lost in the hearts of both Pastors and people. Many lay people are moving out into their worlds with zest in personal evangelism. Biblically, the pandemic can be seen as a time of God’s visitation – when God draws near to His world both in judgment and salvation. Such a time of visitation is precisely when God is in our midst to seek and save the lost. Don’t hold back then for God is with you as you share your faith in Jesus with others. You & I were meant to experience the joy of saying “Today, salvation has come to this house ...for this person was once lost but now is found.” Be the Voice and Connecting Dot for people to come to Christ!
The Rt Revd Rennis Ponniah
Hon Director, GSFA Secretariat
Hon Fellow, St Peter’s Hall (Diocese of Singapore)