My Facebook feed is blowing up this afternoon with football statuses. People cheering for their favorite team, cursing the opposing team, crying with every fumble or interception. The energy that people have for their favorite sports team is palpable, jumping off the computer screen.
Compare that to the morning’s activities. For many of us, we gathered with others at a worship service. We walked in, sat down, maybe said hello to a person or two around us. We read from a screen when prompted, sang a hymn or two, and listened passively to someone share Scripture and a message. We said goodbye to that same person or two we originally greeted and walked out to our car, heading home to move on with our day. We put in our hour (or two) of “church time” and feel complete for the week.
I live in an area whose people, whose culture, are reserved, stoic, unemotional. Until, however, you start talking about their favorite sports (or arts, or activity, or Apple product…not picking on sports fans here!). When the conversation turns to that which they are passionate about, it is obvious in their expressions, their voice, their being. Their entire countenance changes when they begin to share their passion.
But I wonder, where is that passion when it comes to their faith? For that matter, where is the passion in my faith?
Passionate people engage. Passionate people will wait through rainstorms and snowstorms, will sit through thunder and lightning, will sleep outside overnight in a line, just to be one of the select few to get a ticket, or the newest iPhone, or the best concert seats. Passionate people will talk your ear off about their love. Passionate people spend their money and their time pursuing their love. Passionate people rearrange work schedules, vacation schedules, and life schedules to accommodate that which they are passionate about. You have no doubt about what they care about, where their loyalty lies, because their words, their actions, and their lives reflect it.
As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. Ephesians 2: 1-9 (NIV)
Did you see that? We were dead in our sins, but now, through the grace of Christ we are alive. Saved.
This right here is the Good News. And as believers, shouldn’t that fan the flames of passion? If we truly believed that we, undeserving, sin-scarred, unclean, deserving punishment and wrath, if we are saved through mercy, redeemed, made clean by the blood of Christ, by His sacrifice, by His love….then shouldn’t that spur us, compel us to share that same redemptive gift with each and every person we know? Why is it we share more about the awesomeness of our latest phone and not the awesome, compelling story of our freedom from sin and death and our new life in Christ?
Shouldn’t this Good News excite us more than any tangible thing of this earth?
In Luke 10: 1-16, Jesus sends out 72 disciples to go and prepare towns for his arrival. He sends them out in pairs with specific directions. Jesus tells them the harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. He doesn’t sugar-coat their endeavor. He tells them that it may be hard, they may be unwelcome in some of the towns, they may be rejected. He does not hide the truth from them, but instead, equips and empowers them for the task at hand. They are few, and the harvest is great. The fields are ready. They must embrace their task despite the odds against them.
As disciples of Christ, we, too, are called to be workers in the harvest, not spectators to the salvation story.
Once we have given ourselves to Christ, once we call ourselves a Christian, we have no options but to participate fully in the midst of the harvest. Once we invite Jesus to be the Lord of our life, we become disciples, and we are commissioned to go into the world and share the Gospel. We are not meant to just observe the world, sitting in the bleachers, passively watching. No, we are to engage the world around us, offering to others the truth, the grace, the freedom found in the Good News. The beauty of this is that we are all gifted in different ways, to participate in the redemptive work of Jesus and His church in our own unique way.
Our hands are not be used to applaud as a spectator would, but to labor. To engage. To participate in the life, in the ministries, of Christ’s church. We become active participants in God’s redemptive story. We are not saved through our works, but we share the salvation story to others through the work of our hands, through our labors of love.
In this life that we are given, we cannot hide behind a telephoto lens, observing from a distance, safe from the messiness and brokenness of a hurting world. We cannot sit, spectators in the stands, watching the story unfold before us. No, friends, we put down our cameras and we wade into the mess. We offer a hand of helping, we offer arms to hold the hurting, we bring gifts of our presence and we share the source of our strength. We get dirty in the muck and the mire and we give our time, our energy, our love. We share the light of Christ in the darkness and we are there. We are the church, passionate in our faith, present in our witness.
We are workers in the field.
We are there for the harvest.