Last Saturday night we went to the races with our company and their families. We had rented a booth so we could overlook the whole track…it was a great view. You could also look down on the crowd. Right below our booth was the designated beer area. At one point we noticed this young woman who appeared to be quite intoxicated. I watched her for a while and yes at times I would smile at her behaviour but it wasn't right to laugh and for that I feel badly and am sorry. As the night wore on my heart broke for her.
I decided to go down and stand among all those who were milling about in the designated beer area. The beer flowed in that place, one after another people chugged them down…continuously. I stood there…I watched…I prayed…I wondered what can I do…a Christian among the lost. How do I let my light shine in this place. We are called to be bold…what does that mean, what does that look like? I wrestled inside as I stood there in a crowd of lost and intoxicated people. And the girl continued to wander around the crowd, talking with people she didn't even know, cozying up to them…I was saddened. I thought of a line in a song "Break my heart for what breaks Yours, everything I am for Your Kingdom's cause..." And as I looked across the crowd I knew this broke the heart of God.
The story of the Good Samaritan came to mind. Jesus is being questioned by an expert in the law and he asks "Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?" Jesus replies by asking him what is written in the law. The man answers: "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind and love your neighbour as yourself." Jesus tells him he has answered correctly and that if he does this he will live. But then the man goes on to ask Jesus, "And who is my neighbour?" Jesus then shares the story of the Good Samaritan.
There was a man travelling down from Jerusalem when he fell into the hands of robbers. He was beaten badly, striped of his clothes and left for dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road and when he saw the man he passed by on the other side of the road. So too, a Levite, when he saw the man passed on the other side of the road as well. Then along came a Samaritan, he saw the man and immediately went to help him, bandaging his wounds. He then took him to an inn, cared for him through the night. The next day he left two silver coins with the innkeeper asking him to look after the man also saying he would reimburse him for any extra expense when he returned. Jesus then asked the expert in the law which of these three men was a neighbour to the man who fell into the hands of robbers. The expert in the law replied, "The one who had mercy on him." Jesus then told him, "Go and do likewise."
I stood there thinking of this story…realizing that these people were somewhat like the man who fell at the hands of robbers…they were lost, headed down a road leading to death, beaten down by the sins of this world, sins of their own choosing. And as a Christian I could just ignore them…walk around them…not wanting to be touched by them…not wanting to get dirtied or interrupted with their brokenness and sin or I could be a merciful neighbour to them.
I continued standing there, surrounded by their laughter, their smoke, their drinking, their lostness so much wanting to be a light in this darkness. Being aware of how lost they were, how strong the grip of darkness was…but knowing full well that God and His redeeming Sacrifice was stronger than any darkness. The young woman continued to stagger around. I was ready to step in when a guy was offering to buy her a drink but she refused it and moved on. Eventually she sat by herself on a picnic table so I went and sat beside her. It was hard to have a conversation because the cars whipping around the track were so loud. But I was able to ask her her name…she was Jessica. I asked what she did and she didn't really know, she just said she was weird. I said, "You're not weird, just a little lost." Shortly after she left the picnic table wandering around again, that was the end of our conversation. I wanted to do more and wondered if there was more I could have done.
I left the races with a heavy heart…knowing that there are so many people who need to know the saving grace of Jesus…that He came to set sinners free…that he triumphed over darkness and through His blood we can too. But am I willing to get dirty and possibly look like a fool for Christ? Is my love for the lost and ultimately my love for God greater than my need to be comfortable, greater than my need to be accepted? Am I willing to do whatever God asks of me no matter how it makes me look or what it requires of me?
How can I sit quietly and watch a world spiral further and further away from God when I know of the hope that they so desperately need. Why is the fear of man so great…where is the courage, the strength, the boldness…everything I need I have in Christ, so why this fear or is it self preservation? Is that it…I love self more than God, more than the lost? I know my heart is to serve God, to be a light in the darkness but if I'm honest I have to admit that I can't just say it's fear that keeps me silent…it's love of self, comfort, not wanting to stand out, not wanting to be laughed at or made fun of. Yet I serve Christ who gave up everything…the glories of heaven to become a servant…in the end to hang upon a wooden cross…to die a painful tortuous death…for me, a sinner…the one who deserved death and that He offers to all who will receive. So this self preservation in me has to die because in my life I constantly walk among those who need to know Jesus and I can't hang onto this gift of GRACE just for me, my family and those I am close to...the world needs to know and we need to speak out and share it boldly, courageously...for His Kingdom's cause...be that merciful neighbour...