Updated: Apr 28
This past Easter, as the church was celebrating Resurrection Day on April 12, the United States became number one in the world again, though this time was no cause for celebration.
The United States has passed Italy to become the country with the most coronavirus deaths. However, as a proportion of the total population in the U.S., virus deaths remain at about one-sixth of those in hard-hit Italy or Spain. More than 19,700 people in the U.S. have died due to complications from the coronavirus as of Saturday afternoon, according to data from the Johns Hopkins University dashboard. Friday, the U.S. saw its highest daily death count yet, at 2,108. - USA TODAY 05/13/2020
As I looked at those numbers, I began to wonder how many of the dead had a personal relationship with Christ. I soberly wondered of those who didn't know Christ, how many of them had a Christian in their life who never bothered to share the gospel with them.
And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?" Isaiah 6:8(a)
No doubt every memorial service will make the claim that the dearly departed is in a "better place," if not say that they are now in the presence of Christ. This is mainly for the benefit of the mourners present. But what I became most concerned about was that some, if not many, of the deceased had relationships with Christians who never shared their faith. They may have invited people to church on Christmas and Easter but never told their families and neighbors the reason for the hope that they have (1 Peter 3:15). Because of that, there has been growing in me a greater burden for the lost.
Just prior to church buildings being closed due to the pandemic, my pastor and our church made a push and set a challenge for the congregation about the importance of obeying the command of Christ to go and make disciples. Yet, before anything got formally started, those living in the United States were forbidden to gather together in groups greater than 10. Sadly, when most people took shelter in their homes they seemed to stop caring about their neighbors.
As I shared this concern with some Christian brothers that I have met with for almost a decade, some were offended and felt as though I was somehow against them or judging them. One had even gone as far to imply that what I was saying was hateful and disparaging to him. This is how I responded, hoping to encourage my closest friends.
"Don't be offended -- be challenged. This is like halftime in the Superbowl. It's not about anything negative but fanning the fire we claim to have and give all we have to the very end. If you're offended, I'm kinda sorry. But your feelings are not as important as getting the gospel out. Mark and Eric showed that level of love to me personally. I love all of you at least that much, though I don't have to drive 1000 miles round-trip to deliver it. And maybe what you might be feeling is the conviction of the Holy Spirit."
Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. 1 Corinthians 9:24
The perception that I am against my Christian brothers and sisters in any way could not be further from the truth. I am not expecting anyone to do what I was doing, proclaiming Christ to people in the park. I have a boldness that some don't have, though I have felt that I wasn't bold enough when I saw others on street corners with megaphones. But one doesn't need an abundance of boldness to talk over the fence to their neighbors. When we, as the body of Christ, do nothing during times like this, how is that showing the love of Christ to the world?
How are we bringing light into the darkness as the Bible says we're to do? It's almost like as long as we have our salvation, everyone else can go to hell. While we may never say that out loud, confirmed atheist, Penn Jillette, said pretty much just that in video comment right after being handed a Bible.
"How much do you have to hate somebody to believe that everlasting life is possible and not tell them that?" - Penn Jillette -- a gift of a Bible https://youtu.be/6md638smQd8
We are continually expecting someone else to step up and do the job of making disciples which God gave to each and every authentic follower of Jesus Christ. It doesn't make sense to sit by and do nothing. That's what the priest and Levite did as they went out of their way to avoid the man who could not save himself in the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:30-31).
I don't know any man that would sit by and watch a woman, a child, disabled person, or senior citizen being abused and not do anything. But sadly, I know several that will sit by and not do anything as their neighbors and even some of their family go to destruction, saying that they don't want to offend anyone's feelings or emotions.
Imagine if an oncologist did not tell their patient that their tests came back positive for cancer because they felt it would be socially awkward. I was one of those Christians but I can't do that anymore. I'm always nervous that I'll say the wrong thing and step on somebody's toes, or be asked a question that I don't have an answer to. But if I don't share about the hope I have, how will they know? They have to hear it even from someone like me.
For "everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!" Romans 10:13-15 ESV
According to Romans 10:13-15, one must hear the Gospel in order to respond to it. We don't need to argue or get into debates, nor do we need to be able to answer every possible question that they may have. I am one of those guys that was proud to win arguments until I realized that I was not called to win debates but to share the Gospel, to make disciples.
Being able to win every debate is of no benefit to the kingdom of God nor does it glorify God in any way. It just puts the focus on me and that's not why the Christ suffered, died, and rose again. He went through all of that so that I could go from death to life. Each one of us went from being one of the walking dead to a brand new creation. Isn't that what you want your family and friends to experience?
Today, you and I don't have the benefit of inviting them to church in hopes that they can hear our pastor. The doors to the church buildings are closed and locked.
To repeat what I heard a pastor once say, my God is worthy of so much more worship than I am capable of giving Him alone, and much more than the local congregation can bring, so will you join me in inviting every person around us to join us in knowing that same God?
"Then I said, "Here I am! Send me." Isaiah 6:8(b)
And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. Galatians 6:9
So, in the name of Jesus Christ, press on and do not lose heart.