How far would you go to bring your loved ones to Jesus Christ? For some people, very far and against all odds.
During the time our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ walked physically on this earth, many people followed him. Some who followed him were so much interested in his message of love, repentance from sin, forgiveness, and salvation that they became his disciples. Others followed Jesus for his miracles, such as feeding five thousand men, healing people of leprosy, restoring eye sights to the blind, making the lame or paralytic walk, and raising the dead.
On one occasion in the city of Capernaum, a group of very determined men brought a man to Jesus. The man was a cripple and the men believed that Jesus could heal him. The men heard that Jesus had come home to Capernaum and a large crowd of people had gathered in the house to hear him preach. When the men arrived, the crowd was so large that there was no room left inside and no way to get in from the outside door.
They did not give up or walk away, however. Instead, they came up with a very risky idea. Four of them climbed the house, made an opening in the roof above Jesus, dug a wider hole through it, and lowered the mat with the cripple lying on it to land in front of Jesus. Jesus admired their faith, forgave the cripple his sins, and healed him to the amazement and joy of all present (See Mark 2:1-12). Jesus did not reprimand them or consider their action as a rude interruption of his preaching, but as an opportunity to demonstrate his love for the cripple. (I hope the landlord was so amazed and joyful that he or she forgave the four men for the damage they caused to the roof).
We are not told about the relationship or what motivated the men to do what they did. Could it be love, curiosity, or mischief? I think it was love. In any case, it seems there was no emergency that required the drastic actions taken by the men. The man was paralyzed, but there was no indication that he was in immediate danger of death. Second, Jesus was going to be around because he had made Capernaum his new home, having been rejected by, and ejected from, his hometown of Nazareth (Luke 4:14-32). Even so, the men thought they needed to seize the opportunity to get healing for the cripple. Procrastination could wait! To them, their love for the man was so great that they could not pass up the opportunity and perhaps miss what could be their only chance.
What are we doing to bring our loved ones to Jesus Christ for forgiveness of sins, healing of their souls, and salvation? What extraordinary measures have we taken to save our loved ones from eternal damnation? What the four men did was remarkable. They brought the cripple to Jesus for healing, but he received both healing and forgiveness of his sins. The cripple must have heard that Jesus was in town, but he was powerless to get to him; others had to carry him to Jesus. Similarly, our loved ones have heard about Jesus, the Bible, Church etc., but may need someone like you to explain and lead them to the saving grace of God through Jesus Christ. If we bring our loved ones to Jesus for salvation, who knows what else they may also receive from him?
We should not assume that our loved ones understand what they may have heard about Jesus, the Bible or the Church. Consider the Ethiopian eunuch who was on his chariot returning home after worshipping in Jerusalem and reading the Prophet Isaiah in the Scripture. The Spirt led Philip to him and Philip asked him whether he understood what he was reading. The man replied that he did not, unless someone explained it to him. Philip did so and baptized the man on the roadside at the man’s request (Acts 8:26-40). The irony is that the man had worshipped in Jerusalem, and was on the road back home when he had divine encounter and baptism.
It is not easy, but we need to try as the Holy Spirit leads us. We invite our loved ones routinely to parties and other social gatherings, but not to Church. We carry on conversations in person or chat on the telephone or social media for hours with our loved ones about politics, sports, music, entertainment, and nothing, but feel shy to engage them in the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. We teach our loved ones about education, career, and life in general, but hope that priests may teach them about the Bible and Jesus. We pray for worldly success for our loved ones, but neglect to lift them up in prayers for salvation of their souls. And we buy expensive gifts for our loved ones for Christmas and other occasions, but not a Bible which is the fountain of wisdom.
Prayers, Church invitations, Bible studies, talking about Jesus and salvation, and living our lives in accordance with the teachings of Jesus are some of the ways we can bring our loved ones to Jesus. We may face rejections, but keep in mind that at some point Jesus himself was rejected in his hometown of Nazareth, which led him to say that “Only in his hometown, among his relatives and in his own house is a prophet without honor.” (Mark 6:4 NIV).
No matter how genuine our excuses may be for not bringing our loved ones to Jesus, we should think about the early Christian missionaries who traveled far from their homes to other countries to preach Jesus to people they did not know. They faced sea-sickness due to the long voyages, isolations from home, language barriers, unfamiliar diseases, and sometimes hostile people whose religions and ways of life were threatened by the message of the Gospel of Jesus. Yet, for the love of humanity and in obedience to our Lord Jesus Christ’s commission to go into the world and make disciples of all nations, they traveled far and wide and some died in the process.
Like the four men and the early Christian missionaries, we need to act as if the opportunities may not be available for long. We do not have control over our own lives or the lives of our loved ones and so we should seize the opportunities while we have them because tomorrow may be too late. The great efforts, sheer determination, and perseverance of the four men and the early Christian missionaries should serve as good examples for us to take action now. If we do so, some may accept Jesus for the message of the Gospel, others for the miracles, and still others for both the message and miracles. What is at stake, however, is salvation through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ which leads to eternal life. Nothing is more important than that.
Prayer is the key. May God grant us the grace to seek Him daily through our prayers.
Dr. Daniel Gyebi, Attorney-at-Law, Texas, U.S.A., and Founder, PrayerHouse Ministry, Kumasi, Ghana.
PrayerHouse Ministry is dedicated to providing a quiet facility for Christians to pray individually by themselves without any intermediary priest, pastor or any other person. This is a free service. No money is demanded or accepted. One facility is located at Kyerekrom / Fumesua, near Building and Road Research Institute Offices, one mile off the Kumasi-Accra Road and next to a house called Grace Castle. If you are interested, please contact Agnes at 054-7498653. Another is located at Kantinkyiren, at the junction of Kantinkyiren and Konkori, off the Kumasi-Obuasi Road, branching left at Trede junction. Contact Kwadwo at 020-8768461 / 0246-989413.
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