In the gospel of Mark, chapter 2 is one of the greatest stories of true friendship anywhere. Itâ€™s the story of the paralytic man who was carried to Jesus by his four friends. They had heard Jesus was in town and they wanted to get their friend to Him to be healed.
Thereâ€™s great faith right there. I mean, how many of us are loading up vans with our hurting and handicapped friends in order to get them in front of the latest televangelist? Even the ones who claim to have the gift of healing?
Back to our story.
These men knew that Jesus was the real deal and not just a lot of hype. That much was already settled in their minds. The challenge now was to see how far and to what extent their love for their friend would take them because, as it turns out, the place was jam packed! They probably couldnâ€™t get within several hundred feet of the home where Jesus was teaching.
The fat lady has sung.
The ship has sailed.
Well, for most friendships that probably would be it, but not for these guys. Their friendship was powerful, deep, gritty and real. And when plan A fell through, they moved to plan B. The only problem was that they didnâ€™t go into this thing with a plan B. I believe that it was their sheer determination and unwavering love for their friend that forced them to get â€˜creative,â€™ and come up with, plan B.
So, after a few moments of brain-storming, they came up with, â€œOperation Tear Through the Roof.â€ And the rest, as they say, is history. Their fiend is healed and even gets something much better to boot.
His sins are forgiven by the Son of God.
Heâ€™s savedâ€”a part of the family of the living God! Howâ€™s that for icing on the cake? And all because their friends were determined to do anything to get their friend in front of Jesus.
Which brings me to the real reason for todayâ€™s post.
Recently I was told of a family that decided to leave Southbrook because they were, â€œtired of being asked to make room for new-comers.â€
It gets worseâ€¦
â€œâ€¦tired of the pastor (um, that would be me) telling members and regulars who have been here forever (read, â€œentitlementâ€) to go to another service or sit in the video cafe!â€
Wow. Apparently it was all about them. Whenever I hear a â€œChristianâ€ talking as though they are entitled to everything and those pesky â€œnewcomersâ€ are talked about as though they are nothing more than a nuisance, I cringe.
Newcomers at Southbrook tend to be â€˜unchurched, de-churched, lost, confused, hurting, and most of all, desperately in need of a Savior.â€™ Reaching those pesky newcomers is why we exist as a church. Weâ€™re not here to re-shuffle the deck and take another shot at the already convinced.
So, without apology, I will keep right on challenging the Christ followers at Southbrook Church to free up room for the new folks who keep streaming through our doors.
And if you are reading this and claim the name of Christ yet feel this family might have a pointâ€”hereâ€™s a newsflash about the obnoxious pastorâ€™s (me again) constant tendency to ask the mature members to make room for othersâ€¦
I SHOULDNâ€™T HAVE TO ASK!
No one had to ask the four friends of the paralytic to remain up on the roof did they? Yet they didnâ€™t budge. Why? Because they werenâ€™t there for themselves. They were there for their friend. And the place was packed. There simply wasnâ€™t room for all of them. So they stayed put right there on the rooftop cafe and listened from the cheap seats. And Iâ€™ll bet if you asked them all today (in heaven) if they regret their decision not to demand front row seats, special parking, their names on a certain church pew, or a wing of the church named after themâ€”theyâ€™d just laugh.
And thatâ€™s what I ended up doing.
What else can you do?
Just some thoughts .