At first glance, you will perhaps think this is just another article prodding you to get involved in missions or outreach. However, as important as both of those endeavors are, it really is not -- this is something that goes much deeper.
Please allow me to start with a confession. At times, I do not have a deep enough compassion for the lost. If I did, it would occupy more of my thought and investment of time. I have told this story before but it constantly haunts my thinking. In 1992, a Los Angeles county parking control officer came upon a brown El Dorado Cadillac illegally parked next to the curb on a street-sweeping day. Ignoring the man seated at the driver's wheel, the officer dutifully wrote out a $30 citation and placed it on the dashboard. The driver of the car made no excuses. In fact, no argument ensued -- and with good reason. The driver in the car had been shot in the head ten to twelve hours before but was sitting up, stiff as a board, slumped slightly forward, with blood on his face. He was dead. Unfortunately, the officer, preoccupied with ticket-writing, was completely unaware of anything out of the ordinary. The officer returned to his car and drove away.
I am afraid that story reminds me of myself and thousands of Christians who can be so preoccupied with doing "God's business" that we lose the burden for the lost we once possessed.
Mark 2 tells the story of the men who were so determined to bring the paralytic to Christ for healing that a room filled to capacity could not keep them from doing so. Feeling great compassion for this man and his incredible need, they tore the roof off in order to lower him down into the presence of Christ. Folks, that is the definition of determination.
I readily admit that, at times, I don't have that determination or compassion for the lost in this world. Matthew 9:35 declares that our Lord looked upon the multitude of people and saw their lives as purposeless, without aim or guidance like sheep looking for a shepherd... and He had compassion. A compassionate heart is a heart that churns with a sense of urgency for man's lost and desperate condition. Oh maybe not every moment but at least most days, one's heart is squeezed by the reality of man's desperate and hopeless state.
Lord Byron once said, "The dew of compassion is a tear." Personally, I need more tears of compassion for the lost in this world. You see, I believe that if my heart is fine-tuned to God's heart, I will have a burden for God's kingdom both locally and around the world.
Like the police officer, we don't see those in their dead state. We are too busy with our own schedule and pursuits that those who lie wounded and dead on the highway of life are only obstacles and inconveniences rather than people desperately needing God's forgiveness and transformation.
Our Lord looked with compassion over those drowning in a sea of hopelessness and He threw them a lifeline. On Sunday, I mentioned this journey I want to invite you all on here at Mountain View. Beginning with myself, I want to challenge each of us to ask God to rework the circuit in our hearts so that a "spirit of outreach" for God's kingdom will fall upon each of us. Then we will move out in a practical way of adopting a missionary for whom you could pray and then ask God to lead us to three people we could get to a Mountain View event in the next three months. ("3-4-3") This is what we mean when we talk about "A Great Commission Lifestyle."
William Barclay said it well, "The Christian is called upon to be the partner of God in the work of the conversion of men."
Will I hear God's call? Will I take the journey?