“HERE AM I. SEND ME!”
PART 2: “JUST DO IT” (NIKE STRAPLINE)
What if we stopped making excuses?
What if we stopped saying “when I am a little older then I will start telling others about my faith” or “if I were a little younger, I would be right out there, but, well, now It’s time for me to just slow down” or “I’m just not a good talker” or “I am just too shy”.
What if we just took a deep breath and said “OK – I’ll just do it!”
Nike have a well-known logo – which is a tick – and a well-known strapline – which is “Just do it”. Two simple symbols that have made their product internationally successful. The idea is that it’s good to exercise and keep fit and that with our product you can achieve the speed that you want (the tick) and so don’t hold back whether you are old or young, fit or unfit – “Just do it”.
The call of this session is to take that very same deep breath – and to stop making excuses about why we can’t reach out to our community – and just do it!
The call of this session is that we can all SAY what we believe to those we meet, and even more, we can DO what we believe – providing love and care in our community through many little and yet significant things such as smiling and checking our neighbours are OK and picking up their prescriptions for them and dropping off some shopping for them. And then we can maybe pray with them and tell them our “story”.
Let’s face it – the LAST thing they want is for us to preach to them! And, as St Francis of Assisi is alleged to have advised “always share the Gospel – and, if necessary, use words!”
And let’s face it – it doesn’t matter if you’re old or if you’re young: Captain Tom did it through pushing his walker up and down his garden; a little boy did it with five loaves and two fishes. And if they can do it then so can you.
WHY DO WE “MAKE SUCH A MEAL OF IT”?
Let’s have a look at another advert – this time the famous “Guinness Dancing Man” of 1995. In this we see a man “dancing” (!!!) around a pint of the Irish Nectar but never quite getting the “courage” (yes – a pun here!) to actually grab hold of it and drink it… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=69MpLiYhsXw For goodness sake – just pick it up and enjoy it!
Maybe the answer to why we “make such a meal” of reaching out to those around us with the Good News of Jesus is a bit like the reason why Naaman the leprous commander of the army of Syria refused to dunk himself in the dirty Jordan River in order to be cured of his skin disease – it just can’t be that simple…can it? Surely we’ve got to receive training and get a certificate that says we are now qualified to “preach the Good News”? Haven’t we? Don’t we leave the evangelism to the experts?
The message of this section is that if we accept that we have ALL been called to “go and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28: 19) and have ALL been called to “preach the Good News” (Mark 16: 15) then it is time to stop making excuses and just do it!
Let’s have a look at two Biblical examples:
MOSES: THE KING OF EXCUSES
Sometimes the message we have to take to the world is not a lovey-dovey one of “Jesus loves you” (true as this is) but might be one of challenge and a call to change lives (repentance). This was certainly the call on Moses to reach out to Pharaoh:
“Now the cry of the Israelites has reached me, and I have seen the way the Egyptians are oppressing them. 10 So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt” (Exodus 3: 9-10)
And IMMEDIATELY Moses begins to make excuses as to why he couldn’t do this…a real case of “Here I am. Send him!”. We read in Exodus 3: 11-14 and 4: 1-17
But Moses said to God, ‘Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?’
12 And God said, ‘I will be with you. And this will be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship God on this mountain.’
13 Moses said to God, ‘Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, “The God of your fathers has sent me to you,” and they ask me, “What is his name?” Then what shall I tell them?’
14 God said to Moses, ‘I am who I am. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: “I am has sent me to you.”’
Moses answered, ‘What if they do not believe me or listen to me and say, “The Lord did not appear to you”?’
2 Then the Lord said to him, ‘What is that in your hand?’
‘A staff,’ he replied.
3 The Lord said, ‘Throw it on the ground.’
Moses threw it on the ground and it became a snake, and he ran from it. 4 Then the Lord said to him, ‘Reach out your hand and take it by the tail.’ So Moses reached out and took hold of the snake and it turned back into a staff in his hand. 5 ‘This,’ said the Lord, ‘is so that they may believe that the Lord, the God of their fathers – the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob – has appeared to you.’
6 Then the Lord said, ‘Put your hand inside your cloak.’ So Moses put his hand into his cloak, and when he took it out, the skin was leprous – it had become as white as snow.
7 ‘Now put it back into your cloak,’ he said. So Moses put his hand back into his cloak, and when he took it out, it was restored, like the rest of his flesh.
8 Then the Lord said, ‘If they do not believe you or pay attention to the first sign, they may believe the second. 9 But if they do not believe these two signs or listen to you, take some water from the Nile and pour it on the dry ground. The water you take from the river will become blood on the ground.’
10 Moses said to the Lord, ‘Pardon your servant, Lord. I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue.’
11 The Lord said to him, ‘Who gave human beings their mouths? Who makes them deaf or mute? Who gives them sight or makes them blind? Is it not I, the Lord? 12 Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say.’
13 But Moses said, ‘Pardon your servant, Lord. Please send someone else.’
14 Then the Lord’s anger burned against Moses and he said, ‘What about your brother, Aaron the Levite? I know he can speak well. He is already on his way to meet you, and he will be glad to see you. 15 You shall speak to him and put words in his mouth; I will help both of you speak and will teach you what to do. 16 He will speak to the people for you, and it will be as if he were your mouth and as if you were God to him. 17 But take this staff in your hand so that you can perform the signs with it.’
Time after time Moses made excuses of why he couldn’t go or wasn’t ready to go and do what God called him to do. I particularly relate to his final plea of desperation – “Please send someone else”!!!
But each time the LORD broke down those excuses – essentially saying to each one: “I am with you – so you CAN just do it”. And so it is with us. Thank God for His patience with Moses – and thank God for His patience with us!
SENDING OUT THE 12: DON’T WORRY ABOUT ANYTHING
So…Jesus sends the 12 out – on their own for the first time! Matthew 10: 5-8 says:
These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: ‘Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. 6 Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel. 7 As you go, proclaim this message: “The kingdom of heaven has come near.” 8 Heal those who are ill, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give.
It must have been a pretty scary command!
I wonder what would have been going through their minds:
- I’m not sure I’m ready to do this on my own. Jesus has always been the One to lead on this
- I’m not sure that I’ve had enough training yet. Maybe I should wait until I know a little more – maybe even got a certificate to say that I’m trained.
- What am I going to do for money – I haven’t got enough surely?
- What am I going to do for food and for accommodation – shouldn’t I get this all sorted first?
- Who’s going to listen to me in any case? I’m going to look such a fool!
All of these questions – and so many more – seem quite reasonable and a good reason for not going or leaving it till later to go.
But Jesus cuts right through their arguments and their fears…
First of all, we are told:
Jesus called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out impure spirits and to heal every disease and illness (Matthew 10: 1)
And the He goes on to tell them:
‘Do not get any gold or silver or copper to take with you in your belts – 10 no bag for the journey or extra shirt or sandals or a staff, for the worker is worth his keep. 11 Whatever town or village you enter, search there for some worthy person and stay at their house until you leave. 12 As you enter the home, give it your greeting. 13 If the home is deserving, let your peace rest on it; if it is not, let your peace return to you. 14 If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet. 15 Truly I tell you, it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town.
16 ‘I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves. 17 Be on your guard; you will be handed over to the local councils and be flogged in the synagogues. 18 On my account you will be brought before governors and kings as witnesses to them and to the Gentiles. 19 But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, 20 for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.
Basically, Jesus is answering their questions and stilling their worries and dealing with all excuses even before they get a chance to voice them. He is saying effectively: I am with you; I am equipping you; so just do it.
- He answers their questions about POWER and authority: And so, He is sending us out with His authority on us and with the Power of the Holy Spirit upon us so that we are equipped for all spiritual battles and even able to drive out demons, heal the sick and even raise the dead! It is not our power. It is not our authority. When a policeman makes an arrest it is not in their own strength or authority, it is “in the name of the law”. When we reach out to those around us it is not in our own strength it is by the command of Jesus who tells us “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28: 18-19).
- He answers their questions about PROVISION: And so, He is sending us out with all that we are going to need to do the job of reaching out to others. It might not be money or a place to stay that we need; but it might be our time, our resources, our hospitality, our care. And it is not our ability to do the job – remember that He is looking for “availability” rather than “ability” and He will “equip the called, rather than call the equipped”.
- He answers their questions about PERCEPTION: And so, we must accept that some will welcome our words and our love and our care in the Name of the Lord; while others will reject us and laugh at us – and some will openly persecute us. But, we understand – and decide – that this “goes with the territory” and so we obey His command to reach out to others in any case – looking for that time when He will say to us “well done my good and faithful servant”.
- He answers their questions about what to say to people: We understand that one of the biggest – if not THE biggest – excuse to obeying the Great Commission is the classic one (of which I am too often guilty) of saying “I just don’t know what to say”. Here Jesus clearly encourages us with “do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, 20 for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you”. Although specifically talking of speaking to those who are persecuting you, I do think that this applies to all encounters as we reach out to others.
- He even answers their questions about WHO they should be going out to – in this case the “lost sheep of Israel”. To me, this speaks of those around us – our own families and friends and work-mates and neighbours. It is not a call to go to the lost tribes of the Amazon rainforest – though this is a worthy group to go to – it is a local call to just reach out to those who we see all the time. Let’s “just do it”!
AND SO, THE CHALLENGE
One Bible teacher recently pointed out that if we want to get light into a room which is dark then all we have to do is press the switch. There’s no right way and no wrong way of pressing the switch, there’s no best time to press the switch, we don’t have to wash our hands before pressing the switch, we don’t even have to pray about whether it is OK to press the switch….JUST PRESS THE SWITCH and the light will come on!
In the same way the BEST evangelists will tell you…don’t hesitate, don’t vacillate, don’t procrastinate, just do it! Just be yourself. Just take every opportunity. Just (as we saw in our last session) be available to God.
God took Philip to the desert road to speak to the Ethiopian eunuch – he didn’t have to do anything but be available. And God will take YOU to where He wants you to be, do what He wants you to do, speak to who He wants you to speak – all you have to do is to be available and then…just do it!
And the amazing and wonderful thing is that you don’t even have to work out in advance what you are going to say to the person that God leads you to. For we are told to not worry about what we are going to say – we will be given the words to say when they are needed.
As one famous church leader put it – sharing the Good News is as simple as just “walking across the room” and saying “hi” to the person on the other side.
Does this mean that you should be expecting to share the Good News with someone EVERY day? Well, that would be wonderful. But the truly wonderful thing is that if we are simply trusting in God to take us to the right person at the right time then it doesn’t really matter if it is every day or only once this year – all we are called to be is AVAILABLE and then be willing to “just do it”.