With the New Year holiday just behind us, we are still in a season where it is common for people to spend a little time reflecting on the year that was, with all its joys and sorrows, as well as looking to the year that lies ahead. It is a time where many establish goals, review their priorities and maybe even make a few New Years resolutions.
Like many of you I have a variety of responsibilities and pressures that I face on a weekly, even daily, basis and I often long for a simpler, less complicated existence. I’d like to know that in the many tasks and events that come my way I’m accomplishing those things that are important to God—those things that are a reflection of His will for my life.
In Luke 15:1-7 the Lord Jesus reminds us of a guiding principle that can bring new simplicity to our Christian walk and keep us focused on what really matters to God. In the parables of the lost sheep, the lost coin and the prodigal son, Jesus declares that every person, regardless of who they are or what they have done, is so important to Him that He searches for them until He finds them. And when He finds them there is rejoicing and celebration in all of heaven.
The heart of God is to see every person living in covenant relationship with Himself, and He has commissioned us as His church to the task of making disciples. It is imperative that we not only embrace this commission to make disciples, but that we also recognize the extreme value of every individual. Only then will we be willing to move beyond “the reasonable” and embrace a “whatever it takes” mindset.
After his ordination in 1969, author and Pastor Phillip Johnson received a call to serve one large church and ten smaller churches on the northern coast of Newfoundland, Canada. On the first day of his new circuit ministry, Johnson learned that in order to get to the smallest of the churches, he would have to travel 40 miles by snowmobile to a tiny village. When Johnson arrived, only one person was there for worship—a fisherman who had traveled about 20 miles to get there.
Initially Pastor Johnson thought he’d just say a prayer and call it a day. But then he realized that together, he and the fisherman had already logged 60 miles of travel and had 60 more miles to return home. With that in mind, he decided to conduct the whole service as if there were a hundreds of worshipers in attendance. They did it all: the hymns, the readings, the prayers, the sermon, the Lord's Supper, and the benediction.
It was during the sermon that Pastor Johnson wondered why he had even bothered. The fisherman never looked up. But when Johnson greeted him at the door and thanked him for coming, Johnson received a pleasant surprise. “Reverend,” the fisherman said, “I’ve been thinking about becoming a Christian for over 30 years. And today's the day!" (Lee A. Dean, Plainwell, Michigan).
Who is the one person God is calling you to reach out to in 2009? He or she might be a notorious sinner, indifferent, even hostile to the gospel message of Christ, but through prayer and sacrificial acts of love, even the most hardened hearts can find their way back to God. Let this be the year of our living for the one!