A long time ago when I was but a child, while at the beach in North Carolina, my family went on a walk. It was pretty late in the evening, and only the stars and our little flashlights lit the way for us. My sister decided to run on ahead (with permission) to make it back to the beach house where us and our extended family were staying. We continued our walk at a leisurely pace, but when we arrived back at the beach house, we couldn’t find her.
We all responded to this in different ways. Some of us shrugged it off, assured that she would come back around to the house. Others of us lost it, balling and freaking out (okay, this might have been me), thinking of the worst case scenarios. As the minutes ticked by, uncles and cousins and siblings continued making the trek out to the beach to yell her name and to try and find her.
We didn’t just turn on a Brian Reagan comedy special and go about our night. Rather, we continued praying and seeking.
We eventually called the non-emergency number for the police, who informed us that some Coast Guard helicopters were flying over our stretch of the beach, and that they would use their spotlights to try and locate her. In other circumstances, this would have been totally dope.
At long last, my Uncle Jay ended up being the MVP, locating her huddled up next to a sand dune a little bit down the shore from our house. She was safe. She had been found.
My entire extended family did what they could to differing degrees (I was pretty useless) to find my sister and bring her home. We were not content to just enjoy the rest of the evening, claiming that 8 out of 9 cousins being safe was a pretty good percentage.
Your community has lost people that need to be found. Your community has people that are shrouded in darkness, who need the hope-bringing light that Jesus offers. Let us not ever grow content to continue entertaining ourselves (with witty pastors rather than comedians) while we know that there’s someone out there that needs to come home.
Look with me at Scripture. Yes, it’s another passage out of 2 Corinthians (it’s been my jam lately).
And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shown in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. – 2 Corinthians 4:3-6
There are two types of people in the world.
There are those who are being blinded from the light of the gospel by the enemy of our souls, Satan.
And there are those who have had God shine light into our hearts. What is this light? This light is the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. This light is Jesus.
Now, let’s be brutally honest with ourselves for a second, those of us who have the light of Jesus in us.
Are we just chilling in our beach house?
Are we simply having a good time, being entertained, being fed, being with our faith family, soaking it all in? Or are we taking the light we have out onto the shore, searching for our lost friends and family members?
I’m often not.
I believe in the local church. 100%. I am finding myself more and more alone in this point of view with people my age, but it’s what I believe all the same. The local church is the method through which God reaches our communities.
That being said, our local churches can miss the mark when they’re only ever about those who are already in the family of Jesus.
I’m young, and I’m blunt, and that’s not always a good thing.
Because I’m young, I’ll let an older pastor say it his way.
Josh Howerton, a pastor in Rockwall that I am dying to be friends with, said that we as the church should do whatever it takes, barring sin, to reach the lost in our communities.
Whatever it takes.
That’s my heart. In my short time in ministry, just three years, I’ve seen tragedies and seen churches focused too much on themselves. I see my heart focused too much on itself. All too often.
My heart wants comfort. My heart wants the status quo. My heart wants easy. My heart wants to watch Brian Reagan in the beach house while eating seventeen bowls of Cinnamon Toast Crunch.
But the truth is, we would not have found my sister if we simply turned on all the lights in our beach house and said come find us.
We would not have found my sister if we simply kept ourselves distracted by entertainment on the TVs or by arguing and bickering about who had claim to what food in the fridge or what room in the house.
We would not have found my sister if we told ourselves that we shouldn’t go, because it’s uncomfortable or scary or we just have never done things like that before.
No, we found my sister by lighting that shoreline up.
We did whatever it took to find her.
We did whatever it took to bring her home.
As the people of God, we have been given a gift. The light of God through Jesus that has pierced our hearts. God removed the veil that the enemy had put over our eyes.
Let us flood our communities with searchlights.
It’s time to bring the lost home.
In His Name,