Monday, February 27, 2012

Christ's First Missionaries

Yesterday at church, I taught from two different passages that I never knew had anything to do with each other. 

First with the teen girl, I successfully separated that class between boys and girls.  The boys studied Nicodemus, and we studied the woman at the well.

The Samaritan woman was an outcast of outcasts.  She lived with a people that the clean Jews would not associate with.  These were the gross half-breeds of Jew and Gentile from the post-exilic days.  And even among these people, this woman had 5 husbands and now lived with a man not her husband.  She had to go to the well when nobody else came at the heat of the day. 

Jesus talked to her.  He approached her.  He did two weird things: he, a Jewish man, spoke to a Samaritan woman.  Also, he offered her living water.  This woman was so thirsty for love and acceptance that she would talk to someone from a culture who hated her, a Jew.  When he revealed to her that he was the Messiah, she went off and told the whole town of Sychar, thus becoming a missionary to the Samaritans.

For Children's Church, I spoke about the man Jesus healed of demons.  He lived in a cemetery in the Gadarenes, and he ran around naked, cutting himself and beating up people who passed through.  He also lived near a Gentile village (they had herds of pigs).  Jesus brought his disciples there, and the man could not touch Jesus, the Son of God.  The demons were so frightened that they begged not to go back to the Abyss.  Then Jesus sent the demons into the herd of pigs who then ran down the hill into the water and drowned.  The man's village came and saw the man clothed and in his right mind.  However, they cared more about losing the pigs than gaining a man back.  They asked Jesus to leave; the man begged to go with Jesus, and then Jesus made him stay and be the missionary to the Gadarenes.

In both these stories, Jesus met with the grossest people.  He brought his disciples to those rough areas in fear and trembling, but fearlessly, Jesus picked out his targets, cleaned them, and their towns came to know the Christ because of these people.

Are you a gross person?  Do you at least know someone who is gross, who you avoid like a literal plague?  Perhaps you should talk to such people and show them God's love.  I convict myself as I write this as I'm thinking of people I feel uncomfortable around.  With much prayer, God will soften your heart toward them, and they will change through that love, and they will show their hometowns that Christ is real and that his salvation is for all kinds of people.

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