One of the things that I love about First Baptist Church is that it is so loving toward those who have been crippled by life circumstances. I have often heard that “God helps those who help themselves,” but lets face it, there are circumstances when we cant help ourselves and all we can do is ask God to send us help.
In Mark 2:1-12 we see four men bringing their paralytic friend to be healed by Jesus. What is interesting to me is how they get him to Jesus. Because of a large crowd gathered at the entrance of the home, there was no way the men could get their friend through the front door, so they made an opening in the roof and, after digging through it, lowered the paralyzed man down into the room where Jesus was speaking. Through this wonderful act of kindness, the paralytic not only realized forgiveness of sins, but he was also made to walk again. This fantastic story concludes, “This amazed everyone and they praised God, saying, ‘We have never seen anything like this!’”
I want First Kennedale to do more to help people find healing from their hurts, habits, and hang-ups as well as find biblical answers for their life’s journey. I want First Kennedale to be a Community of Grace for the sighing, the crying, and the dying. I want it to begin with my leadership. Not only do I want to introduce people to a Savior that helps us walk again, I want to encourage others in their new journey of faith.
Here are seven principles from this passage that I believe Christians need in order to reach others for Christ.
1) We must see the need of those around us. Just like the paralytic, people are paralyzed by fear, broken marriages, depression, discouragement, addictions, and many other kinds of hang-ups and habits. These men knew Jesus was the one who could heal this man’s broken life. We need to never forget that God is a God who loves and heals broken people.
2) We need to see that the way others are helped is by our action. While a crowd gathered to hear preaching, there were others who were out putting the word into action; they were helping a crippled friend come to know the Savior. We must realize that there is more to ministry than just jumping from Bible study to Bible study; we need to put the Bible to work by reaching out to help others in need. Even Jesus himself stopped teaching for a time to minister to others.
3) We need to pull together in the cause. These four men worked together. God has given every Christian a gift, and each person needs to use his or her gift to reach those in need. Some can make a cake for a grieving widow. Others can repair a fence for a neighbor. And others can send a card to someone who needs encouragement. It takes all of us.
4) We need to realize that there will always be obstacles. These four men couldn’t get their friend through the door of the church to see Jesus because of the vast amount of people standing in the way. Sad, but true…some churches have built their own obstacles. Some put up forms of legalism. Other churches build obstacles of disunity. Others have the obstacles of traditionalism. Every ministry faces obstacles.
5) We must remove these obstacles and use creative ways to get the job done. These men discovered that the only way they could get their friend to Jesus was through the roof. Sometimes traditional ways do not work, so you have to find another way of doing things.
Don’t misunderstand: the message must stay true to the scripture, but the methods need to be flexible to meet the needs of different generations of people.
These men were willing to rip off a roof for someone in need. The eternal soul of an individual is more important than our traditions we cling to.
6) Understand that there will always be “religious” people who will miss the big picture. If you read the story, you will see that those who did the complaining were the scribes — the religious scholars. Instead of celebrating a sinner being freed from sin and a crippled man being made to walk, they searched for some way to attack Jesus.
Usually, the biggest battle in trying to do the Lord’s work is not the recovering sinner. It is not the new convert. The biggest battle is usually people who have been in church all their lives and fail to see God at work. They look right past the new convert and changed life and complain because things are not the way they used to be.
The fact is — I want the church I pastor filled with people with hang-ups and heartbreaks. Jesus didn’t come for the righteous but the sick.
I tell people “If you are perfect, go to another church. We are here for fellow strugglers.” And I thank God First Kennedale loves crippled, hurting, and desperate people.
7) We must have persistence in the ministry. These men didn’t quit. They persisted until they got their friend to Jesus. You see, doing the work of the Lord is hard work. You are fighting the culture. You are fighting the obstacles of the status quo. But mostly you are fighting the Devil’s darts — discouragement. He wants you to quit. And when you do, he gets the glory. But we must press on so God can work.
8) We must see that, in the end, God gets the Glory. God wants someone to be healed. Only God can do that. Only God can forgive sins. Only God can take away guilt. And only God has the solution for our hang-ups, hurts and habits.