Jump Start # 2578
Matthew 5:47 “And if you greet your brothers only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?”
Our verse today comes from the amazing sermon on the mount. The greatest sermon preached by the greatest preacher. Jesus is stressing that the Gospel ought to bring out the best in us. We ought to be different because we are not following the crowd, but rather God. How we think and how we treat others is expressed specifically in these passages. The Gentiles would greet each other. But the Gentiles wouldn’t greet a Jew and a Jew certainly would never greet a Gentile. So, with the Gospel in you, how are you any different? You have the greatest message and the best example. You need to be like Jesus. The Jesus who went to Samaria. The Jesus who went to the home of a tax collector. The Jesus who was a friend to all. That’s how God expects us to be.
And, layered nicely in this passage is this wonderful statement, “what do you do more than others?” I want to borrow this idea and talk about all the good that is being done in the midst of all the bad. We must keep our social distance, we are told. We worship at home. Things are not normal. We’ve never seen anything like this. But, do you know what else we’ve never seen before? We are seeing all kinds of wonderful ways to encourage by our fellow preachers. Men who I’d never thought would ever do anything, are. There are Monday morning devotional videos. There are so many wonderful sermons to watch. There are all kinds of Bible classes that one can connect to. These tough times have brought an amazing wealth of ability, opportunity and encouragement. There is no reason for anyone to shrivel up and die. Wonderful, wonderful things are being done. I’m so proud of my fellow preachers. You guys are killing it! I know this is hard. I know it’s not the best way to teach. I know it’s awkward looking into a camera, and for old guys like me, it’s where is the camera so I at least appear to be looking face to face with the audience. Many of us have had to get more equipment. I did. My first video was like a red-neck version. I had a ladder with some books on it and my Ipad sitting on the books. I have purchased a tripod and now a better mic. All of this in an attempt to make things better and better for those who watch and listen.
But it won’t be long and this season of storms will pass. We will be able to assemble. We’ll be back into the church building and we’ll be back into our classrooms. That will be so wonderful. Yet, what will happen to these Monday devotionals, or Friday afternoon messages that have been so helpful and encouraging? Will we drop all of these things and simply return to the way things were? Or, are we seeing an upside benefit to all of these ways to teach and encourage? Could it be that we must “do more than others”?
One of the upsides that I have noticed is the large number of people watching worldwide. The number of people watching the things being put out by congregations is much larger than the congregation itself. Folks are listening and watching Bible class lessons that under normal circumstances never would, or could not. But because these things are made available on Facebook and websites, all over the country, and even the world, people are learning, growing and being encouraged. As we think about getting back together, maybe it’s time to evaluate the wonderful good that has been done. And, as difficult as it has been to produce these videos, maybe it would be a good thing to continue. Should this good stop simply because the storm passes? Or, could the new normal now include some of the wonderful things that we are doing?
Without realizing it, many congregations have witnessed the good that they can do is much farther than the zip code of the church building. States away, people are watching, learning and being helped. This storm has opened our eyes to how we can become global and with technology do more and reach more than we ever had before. So, as we preachers write and prepare sermons, the reach is far more than the faces we see each week in the pews. Someone across the country, or even across the world may now be benefited from the good that is being done.
So, here are a few thoughts:
First, shepherds and preachers need to evaluate whether these wonderful means of teaching ought to continue. There is an expense. Good equipment needs to be purchased so the end product is quality. The good you are doing may be to people who never visit your church building, but they are somewhere in the kingdom. Is that worth continuing? Is this something that you want to be a part of?
Here at Charlestown Road, we’ve been doing this long before the Covid-19 storm arose. Podcasts, Jump Starts, livestreaming are within our DNA. We were recording Bible classes in the building already. But with this, comes questions, emails, texts, needing information, wanting further study worldwide. This adds layers of work and again you may never see these faces in your church building, but that’s not the point. We are not trying to make larger congregations, but save people eternally. The nature of your work shifts a bit to fit in all the help from the world. If this is something you want to do, I’d encourage you to recruit help from those within the congregation. We do a lot of mailing. People wanting copies of our class books we write, Jump Start books, and things like this. This can be overwhelming and eat a lot of time. So, get great help.
Second, what a blessing it is to be living in these times when we can do so much to spread messages worldwide. What we preachers are doing is a bit time consuming, but it’s not hard. It’s what we are supposed to be doing. Many are finding that they are teaching more during a week than they have in the past. And, this is just what we are supposed to do, the work of an evangelist. It brings images of the early disciples teaching daily. We are learning through this storm that we can do this without being face to face. Through technology we can teach, even daily.
Third, there is a great friendship and fellowship that I am seeing among preachers. We are sharing ideas. We are watching each other on videos. We are borrowing lessons and devotionals. We understand that we are all in the same boat and we might as well help one another. And, this is being done. Kindred spirits and love for the Lord are bringing out the best. We are telling others about podcasts and videos that we find to be useful. I know of some families that will watch three or four sermons on Sunday mornings. You couldn’t do that before this storm. What a great time this has brought out for us.
The storm will soon pass. Let us see the great good that has been done and let us give some serious thought as to what ought to continue and how we can help folks, even worldwide.
Thank you, my brothers! Keep up this amazing work! It is helping me!