christian encouragement

Gather As Many As Possible

In a world that seems so divided do you know the one experience we will all have?  We will all die.  Sounds uplifting doesn’t it?  And although God doesn’t want us to dwell on our impending death, He does want us to know the truth of our life – that one day it will end.  We won’t know the day, the time or even the how, but it will assuredly happen.  It will happen to the ones we love and the ones we hate. The ones we’ve forgiven and the ones we just can’t seem to.  It’ll happen to the rich, the poor, the Christian and the non-Christian.  And yet, so many of us live our life as though this is not inevitable.

The statement, “Fear the Lord” is frequently misunderstood.  The Bible constantly clarifies this with meaning to obey and believe the Word of God.  Like a parent setting down the rules of the house and expecting compliance, a child fears the correction or lack of freedoms disobeying their parents may bring. The child also knows that obeying and respecting his parents brings a more peaceful and joy-filled household. Knowing that our hour of death will come we should have this same reverence for what God expects of us during our brief time on His earth.  We share a common destiny here on earth but not in eternity.

I had an interesting interaction on social media recently.  A Los Angeles ministry, Saturate OC, posted an amazing picture featuring thousands of people attending their new outdoor beach ministry.  Hundreds were baptized.  And yet, I knew in the comments what was to come.  “People are dying from Covid! This is irresponsible!” and “Shame on these people! What about Covid!” But one person kept answering: “Focus on the eternal.”  No argument, just that statement.  Focus on the eternal.

You may be reading this thinking how irresponsible that is.  Let’s put this in perspective.  I have lived 54 of my 55 years in California.  It’s a pretty tough place to be a full-blooded Christian.  Talk about living “not of this world!”  Unlike the Missouri environment my youngest daughter lives in which sees it as normal to pray in restaurants, California and many Californian’s don’t see God as a necessary and integral part of life.  In fact, there’s a lot of disdain for people who “need God.” So, when I saw this picture, I saw hope.  I saw God’s work.  I saw love.  I saw people being saved – for the preparation of their unknown hour of their death.  

Right now, on our California freeways a plea is posted about DUIs.  It states that almost 3,500 Californians died in DUI related traffic accidents last year.  That’s almost the same number of people who have died from the Covid virus in California.  When you look at who is dying from Covid you’ll see that about 75% of those are aged 70 and up.  Looking at who dies more frequently from DUI related deaths the population most effected are 21-34 year olds.  The picture I saw on that beach was exactly that demographic.  So, my question to the grandmother who posted her comment that these people were being so irresponsible was this – you say you have “your ticket to heaven already” but you would deny it to these young people?  These young people who have more of a chance of dying on their way home from the beach from a drunk driver than from the virus?  We would deny them the opportunity to be baptized.  Deny them the Word of God and the community of Christians that will support them through viruses, lost jobs, deaths of loved ones, broken hearts, and more?  You could argue these people might go to see their grandmothers and infect them and kill them.  Isn’t that where the true choices must come in to play?  

Saturate OC founders Parker and Jessi Green heard God call them to bring the collective body of believers together to share the gospel at the beach.  They were told, “There’s a 50,000 person harvest in Huntington Beach during Summer 2020.  Pray for workers.”  Who are we, especially as Christians, to question and distrust the work of God?  Think of the amazing work we, as a Christian body, could have been doing these last few months had we had the same faith.  The same “faith over fear?”  The same desire to share the gospel with hundreds of people – ALL of whom will face death at some point.

Yes, God asks us to be discerning.  But He also asks us to trust Him.  I will never be disdainful and pass judgement on God’s work of bringing people to their knees in prayer and worship.  I will always say “hallelujah” when He works in places that have refused Him.  I will trust that this work is good and He will take care of the outcomes.  One other person commented, “But many Christians who trusted God have died.”  We all will die.  Thank God they died loving God and having accepted Christ as their savior.  One day I hope to meet them all in Heaven.

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