As we travel along the road of life, we begin to notice a trend in the world around us. We only are able to see this trend and understand it because we were as John Newton says “I once was lost, but now I am found.” If we are honest with ourselves “We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:6).
We see the lostness of the world and how so many are claiming to have the answers but lack the consistency in their lives to prove it.
We see the anger in others hearts when they don’t understand or have great pain in their heart as they lash out at others who disagree with them.
And we see those who are searching but have not believed because there seems to be too many unanswered questions with no one to guide them.
As firefighters, we all either have been or met a firefighter who claims to be proficient in their craft. We say all the right words, hang around all the right people, and move with confidence until the moment comes when we have to prove ourselves. We fail miserably under pressure and offer every excuse for our inadequacies except for the truth.
Reflect on these words for a moment:
“It is often easy to deceive others about the condition of our heart but it is not easy to deceive others about the way we treat people.” Andy Stanley.
The challenge before us is this: How will we respond when we are tested by the fires of adversity?
That same firefighter mentioned before can be compared to us as fellow Christians failing to stand up for what we believe in, failing to live out our beliefs, and failing to know Jesus well enough to lead others to Him. The harsh fact that we must embrace is this:
We are leading others to Jesus or away from Him; there is no middle ground.
So what do we do?
If we are knowledgable about a subject then we should be able to demonstrate the knowledge in the arena’s of our lives. What is often missing in allowing us to demonstrate our understanding of knowledge is the depth of our relationships.
One who claims knowledge and understanding will live it out in their relationships. In short, we cannot give to others that which we do not possess. If we are honest with ourselves, we may find that we have plenty of passion but no depth.
We may claim to know Christ, but when times become harsh or others oppose us we respond inappropriately and wither like the seed that grew up on rocky ground. We lacked the depth to stand firm because our foundations were shallow.
As leaders of our families, we can see the same gap where we proclaim our love for them yet we don’t devote our primary efforts on them. They are often given the left overs of our passion as this is shown in our lack of patience with them, our lack of understanding our their concerns, and our inability to connect with them when we attempt to spend time with them.
Thus we have come to a bridge in the road of our lives. We have seen that in all aspects of our lives the key to understanding one another lies in the depth of our relationships with them. We look upon this bridge and on one side we see those we love in the world around us and on the other side we see the love of God. We then gasp as we realize that the bridge is the arms of Jesus Christ. He has stretched out his arms and bridged the impossible gap. This impossible gap is bridge in our hearts when we pursue a strong and personal relationship with Christ.
We remember His words as we contemplate our failings when He said “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5).
Apart from Him we can do nothing:
So as we look upon the eyes of a hurting world let us respond with the compassion that Christ has.
Let us meet people where they are, provide for their needs, and share the Gospel with them. For if we merely provide answers without sharing the hope of Jesus Christ we have removed all hope from them. We must be able to hurt for the world as Jesus did instead of being destroyed by it. It is an impossible task without Christ.
Perhaps you know Jesus, but don’t have a personal relationship with Him. Perhaps, you have been hurt greatly by those around you. Perhaps, the world has become to difficult a place and you have written people off.
Are you or those around us lost?
“When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” Matthew 9:36
Has our hearts become hardened to those around us?
Jesus can renew our hearts: “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” Ezekiel 36:26
Has the pain of our past caused us to become bitter and cynical?
“Today, if you hear his voice,do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion.” (Hebrews 3:15).
Do you feel an inner desire to help others? Jesus is calling us:
“Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” Matthew 9:37-38
Do you want Jesus to save you?
“And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’ Acts 2:21
The key to understanding is found in our relationship with Jesus Christ. Once we come to know Him. He changes our hearts and we have a new found compassion for those around us.
We will then respond differently, we will help when others hurt, and we will lead when others walk away.
The life God is calling us all to lead is a life like Jesus; where we give our lives away for others. We are to be servant leaders with the hope that all may know the hope of Jesus Christ.
How will we lead today?
Andy J. Starnes
Bringing Back Brotherhood Ministries