Each one of us has a comfort zone in which we live our life. It has to do with the kind of lifestyle that we’re comfortable living. We’re comfortable dressing in a certain style, eating certain foods, shopping in certain stores, being in certain neighborhoods, being associated with certain kinds of people, taking part in certain kinds of activities. Our comfort zone extends to our spiritual life, as well. We’re comfortable in a congregation with a certain kind of makeup with a certain style of preaching and a certain emphasis on our personal responsibility as individual Christians.
This past week we got shaken out of our comfort zones! Brother Willie Franklin spent four days preaching the gospel. He emphasized that the only one way to salvation is through Jesus Christ (Jn. 14:6), and the only way to follow Jesus effectively is through His word (Jn. 14:15; 2 Jn. 1:9). He looked at four encounters with Jesus: Nicodemus (Jn. 3), the Samaritan woman (Jn. 4), the man by the pool of Bethesda (Jn. 5), and the blind man (Jn. 9). Each one needed to know that Jesus is the Savior, and each one needed to give their lives to Him (Gal. 2:20), obediently living by His teachings.
But all through his lessons, and in his personal time with us, Brother Willie also shook us. As he preached the gospel to the lost, he preached to us about how we need to love those who are lost and in need of the gospel. We need to love them enough to reach out to them. We need to love them in spite of their being lost. We need to love them in their lost condition. We need to love them in the ugliness of their sin. As they see Christ’s love in us extended to them, as they see that we truly care about them, their hearts can be opened, giving us the opportunity to teach them the gospel they so desperately need.
He also taught us that before we can effectively convey Christ’s love to the lost in the world, we must first truly love one another in our spiritual family, the church. Jesus did not come to establish a white church or a black church or a Hispanic church or a Korean church. He came to establish His church, the church. The world needs to see the love of Christ in us for each other (Jn. 13:34-35). They need to see that the love we preach and teach is genuine, that we live what we preach and teach.
Brother Willie told us to pay attention to what Jesus said, to look up and see that the fields “are already white for harvest!” (Jn. 4:35). The lost souls in need of the gospel are everywhere. We need to lift up our eyes and notice them, and then we need to approach them. Find a common ground, get to know them, search for an opening. The opportunities to teach abound.
Let’s not slip back into our comfort zones. Let’s move forward with focused purpose and seek out those souls. Pray for God to lead you to a soul in need of the gospel…
Gary L. Hutchens