Devotional Thought

Back in elementary school, I used to hear stories. Lots of stories. And, usually from people who thought us kids had it too easy. The tales usually revolved around having to walk 10 miles each way in "snow up to here!" to get to a 1/2 room school house with 120 kids sharing one chewed up pencil to do trigonometry lessons, the books of which were all in Latin. After school, they would all stare at the sun until nightfall, because it was the only thing to do for 100 miles in any direction. People had it rough back in the day. I'm convinced that most of these stories emanate from one child's experience from the mid 1800's in rural Wyoming and are leased out to every couple at the birth of their first child to use at their discretion.

One of these types of stories which I always enjoyed was the one about pinning a note to some poor kid's shirt to deliver to his teacher when he got to school because there was no way in the world he'd every remember to give it himself. The picture in my mind was always this fantastic image of some little boy with messed up hair, 3 missing teeth, and the attention span of a hydrogen atom, prone to intense bouts of spinning and bouncing around - arms flailing and careening everywhere, like he'd just got them last Friday and still didn't know what to do with them. About a nano-second after his mom finishes explaining to him the importance of going directly to his teacher, Miss Peterson, with the letter, he forgets not only about the mission but even that he has a letter pinned to his chest. After arriving at school, he swirls into his classroom and is eventually rounded up by his teacher who notices the little piece of paper hanging on for dear life. Opening it up, she finds some wonderful news - he and his parents are going on vacation in a few days and he will be missing class for the entire next week. Everyone rejoices at the turn of events. He gets a week out of school and Miss Peterson gets a week to recuperate from the human nuclear reactor that delivered the note - the power of good news made manifest. 

The simplicity of such messaging system, although likely a bit hyperbolic as it plays out in my mind, reflects in some ways the call to evangelism the early Church is given. Throughout Acts we see God provide the explicit message His Church is to offer and the specific persons to whom they are to give those messages. Two instances of this providential prompting stick out as exemplary: God's call to Ananias to bring a word to Paul and God's call to Peter to bring the Gospel to the household of Cornelius. In Acts 9, God appears to Ananias in a dream, providing him both a verbatim message he is to relay to Paul and the exact place he is to go to relay that message - the Holy Spirit equivalent of pinning a note to Ananias's chest. As Ananias is obedient, the scales fall from Paul's eyes and he is transformed. Peter's message in chapter 10 is slightly more confusing, but, as the story goes along, Peter finds himself merely having to react to the scene the Holy Spirit has been orchestrating all along. God has been preparing Cornelius and his household for, potentially, years to receive Peter's message of God's good news. Peter is brought to Caesarea by a cohort sent to fetch him from Joppa, and, as Peter delivers the gospel, his audience is instantaneously changed - imparted with the gift of the Holy Spirit. All Peter had to do was show up and hand over the note "pinned" to his chest. 

While this is perhaps an oversimplification of that which God continues to call His Church to (e.g., sometimes, God calls His people to labor in evangelism and outreach with little to no fruit to show for it), evangelism is rarely as difficult as we often make it out to be. Over the District Assembly weekend, we heard from multiple church planters and missionaries who told the stories of God's miraculous expansion of His Church. Two common themes were the call to intentional, continual, prayerful communion with God and subsequent obedience when God opens up doors of opportunity. Much like God's interaction with Ananias and Peter, we are not called to places where God has not already been working. Evangelism is not a human "first strike" team, clearing a path so that we can give the Holy Spirit a shot at reaching people. Rather, God's call to evangelism is a call to be the physical embodiment of His hand casting the seed, aerating the soil, watering the rows, wielding the scythe, and gathering in the harvest. And, as such, the most important part of evangelism is our connection to the Head that is Christ. As obedience stems from this daily communion, evangelism becomes the love note pinned to our chest offered readily and freely to those we encounter. And, even hyperactive, messy, easily-distracted children can do that.  

Your District Admin.

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