Let’s take a little journey into the past.
21st century, 20th, 19th, 4th, 3rd, 2nd… We’re turning the clock back and I’m paying a lightning visit to first-century Palestine. I’ve come to visit an unusual grouping – well, that’s an understatement – an extraordinary, raggle-taggle collection of people: the disciple band of Jesus of Nazareth. They’re sleeping under the stars tonight and they’re a right mixed bunch; there’s even some women here, that’s unusual, unheard of actually. I’m intrigued.
I can hear some snippets of conversation. There’s a few sparks flying, tempers ruffled, but one thing’s certain: they’re listening to their leader, Jesus of Nazareth. I can see, beyond doubt, he’s a man on a mission and He’s taking this motley crew with Him. I’m not sure if he can knock them into shape, he’s got quite a task on his hands but we’ll see. But he’s determined, that’s for sure: He’s telling them this mission they’re sharing is top priority, over-toppling all other priorities.
“Bums off seats, guys and girls, are you ready to go?’ he says.
Jesus of Nazareth, you’ve certainly got an urgency about Your mission and it’s getting you into all sorts of scrapes, including death threats. What about that deranged guy you met the other day coming out of that graveyard? All that silly nonsense about whether you should or shouldn’t be doing your ‘healing bit’ on the Sabbath day? Well, I guess that’s when tools, cooking pots, etc., are put down and ordinary people have time to listen? I can’t understand what the fuss is about.
Yes, I notice you make allowances for rest, prayer, instruction but then, it’s bums off seats again: you mean business. Why, why this urgency? Is time short?
Yes, time is short and how else could/can the ‘kingdom come’? By tellin’ ‘em and showin’ ‘em of course. Our mission is to show people who God is, what’s He like, what He’s done and what He wants; we want to lead people to God. It also brings health to the sick, lukewarm hearts and churches. Haven’t you noticed how the warmth and fire of God returns to the belly when one talks to people about Jesus and His kingdom?
Last week a young African came to our house and we invited him to study the Bible with us. Although not a practising Muslim, he comes from a Muslim family and, listening intently, he prayed out as we finished:
“I’ve not been bought up this way; I’m a long way from ‘getting it’ but will You help me, God, find Your Way.”
What did that prayer do to me? I’m burning! I’m on fire. I’m excited, my heart’s swelling with joy.
You know what, I long for us to experience that urgent, pressing need, not to get our lives together and find what’s comfortable but to follow the great Missionary/missionaries whose priority it is to take and show the good news of the King, the kingdom, to everyone – especially the needy and the poor.
“Bums off seats, go and do it, go and say it,” I hear Jesus tell His disciples.
Fire of God, Spirit of urgency, come down and fill our hearts again.