Has someone ever said to you, “You just made my day!” and you wondered what you did or said? Just think for a moment how you feel when that happens. You just brought the Good News of Christ to that person! You made that person feel better about themselves or more loved or more accepted. This is what following Jesus and being a disciple is all about. We don’t always know what it means to someone to say that we will pray for them, or to tell them they’re special or loved. When we act as Jesus would act, we are bringing God’s love into whatever situation we are in. The world can get us down sometimes. We can wonder if it’s all worth it to do the right thing when we see others profiting from the unhappiness of others. We need to hear the good news of salvation. But someone needs to bring us that good news! Bringing someone else joy, gives us joy as well. In our Gospel passage today, the seventy-two disciples returned to Jesus full of joy and couldn’t wait to tell him about their experience of spreading the Good News of the Kingdom. The message of Jesus was and is “God loves you.” When we can look in the mirror, into the eyes of a friend, into the face of a stranger and be able to say, “God loves you,” we are bringing the Good News of Christ to all we meet and we will experience joy. So, this week, go make someone’s day!
We have a lesson to learn from John the Baptist. Many people had approached John wondering if he might be the Messiah. As we see in this passage from Mark’s Gospel, John made sure that they were mistaken, that there was “another” coming who was greater than he who would baptize with the Holy Spirit. Soon Jesus comes to John to be baptized. The lesson we should take from John is that WE are also not the Messiah. Our task, as was John’s, is to lead others to Christ, not to ourselves. I have seen many examples over the years, as I’m sure you have as well, of preachers who seem more interested in drawing attention to themselves rather than to Christ. Who appear to act as if they are the only ones who can save us. They can’t. Jesus has already done that! I once knew a woman who had emerged from a cult and who was engaged to marry a Methodist minister. Even though she had left the cult, she still had fears that by leaving, she was condemning herself to hell. The leader of the cult still held power over her, a power he never should have taken upon himself. Just as John understood that Jesus was the Messiah, the Savior, the promised one, we need to help others to come to know Jesus even if they never come to know us. Once John knew that Jesus had begun his ministry he declared that he, John, must decrease so that Jesus could increase. May we have the humility of John. There is nothing more lovely to see than a child reaching up to his/her parent in love and trust. It is to such as these that Jesus tells us we must be. Children have faith that they will be cared for by those who love them. When we were children, we didn’t really have any problems believing that God loves us, but as we grow older, we seem to become jaded by a world that lets us down, and so we can easily believe that God will do likewise. The early Christians knew what it meant to be church. They met in homes, gathered to share their memories of Jesus, or the stories they had heard, reading letters from Paul or other disciples and sharing a meal. On the Sabbath they would go to the temple to pray – until it became impossible. As time went by the spreading of the Good News was left to professionals. Today things must change if we want our children to know of God’s love for them. The emphasis now is on our role to reach out to others, to witness our faith in the home, the workplace, the neighborhood. No longer is it just the job of ministers and priests to bring others to Christ, it is our job as well. Change is difficult and personal responsibility is always a challenge. Faith, like any other relationship, needs to be nurtured and this is perhaps the greatest challenge of all. Let us take this year to grow in our knowledge of Christ; let us take more time for prayer; let us delve into the Scriptures and learn just how to truly follow Jesus. Just as we encourage our children to grow and provide opportunities for them, may we take advantage of the opportunities that will be offered to us this year, so that we may have enough faith to last a lifetime and beyond – into eternity.
Our relationship with God consists of us realizing the areas in which we need reformation, and following God’s guidance so that we can be healed, reformed, and transformed. Only the power of God can change our ways. We can’t do it without His help.
Dear God, I ask that you reveal to me any areas of my life that I need to do better in. Lord, I also ask that you help me improve in these areas because it is only through you that I can achieve such. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.