Dick played in my soccer league years ago. I hadn’t seen him in at least five years. So I was surprised twice on Sunday morning when I received a call from Young’s Funeral Home informing me that he died and that he had listed me as his minister.
Five days later I began his service by sharing Psalm 139 and the fact that God knew Dick and lovingly created him and desired to have a relationship with him. I could give no words of hope regarding his location or allay the unspoken fears of those wondering his fate. Instead I shared the gospel and the powerful need for each person to know Jesus Christ, the only One capable of forgiving us for our sins and providing us eternal life. My remarks were in stark contrast to the rest of the service.
For well over an hour friends and family paid tribute to Dick’s humor, his giftedness as an artist and his love for life. There was no mention of anything spiritual. Instead coarse humor became the hymn of choice in a vain attempt to ease grief amidst a sea of suffering. I left that place deeply saddened by what seemed like a crowd looking for solace in all the wrong places.
Today on this National Day of Prayer, I stood at Dick’s gravesite and prayed for the family and few friends that gathered at the cemetery. I felt the Holy Spirit’s nudging to do something I have never before done at a gravesite. I invited anyone present who was hurting to come and sit in one of the nine empty chairs by the silver encased casket, so I could pray for them. Every chair was quickly filled. I then invited those still standing to come and place their hands on those seated and join in agreement with me as I prayed. It was a deeply moving time. I left that place heartened by the fact that hurting people instinctively recognize their need for God and are profoundly open. The sense of inadequacy that gnawed on my heart a week earlier was replaced by a sense of gratitude that God gave me another opportunity to share His love.
Tonight congregations around our city were invited to meet for prayer. But there were no throngs. A paltry crowd of thirty, mostly full of pastors, came to pray. Someone aptly noted that the last television episode of Friendswas the huge draw. Prayer is work and it would seem that few of God’s children are interested in coming before Him despite the reality that our nation is divided with increasing hostility—morally and politically. I’m afraid Dick lies in ground that smells more like the soil of Sodom then the dirt our forefathers turned long ago when God was actually feared. I’m struck by how profound the need is right now for our nation to be reconciled with God. I’m convicted by my own prayerlessness and need for a greater sense of urgency for the salvation of my unbelieving friends. So please bear with me as I share what I believe must happen in our lives if we truly want to see our nation turn back to God.
Seven Key Components to Reconciliation
1. Godly Reverence--Therefore, because we know the fear of the Lord, we seek to persuade people. We are completely open before God, and I hope we are completely open to your consciences as well . . .”(2 Corinthians 5:11). Proverbs teaches us that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Reconciliation with God always starts from a foundation of respect for Him. When we fear God we apprehend His heart towards people.
2. Humility—5:12. Proud Christians turn off unbelievers and feel little need to associate. Humble children of God attract the lost to Him.
3. The Love of Jesus—5:14. Jesus died to bring people to Himself. What fueled His sacrifice was love. If we don’t love people how can they see Jesus in us?
4. Self-Denial—5:15. Unless we say no to the cravings of our flesh and obey God’s will for our lives we cannot be effective helping people find God. Jesus did not come to wear an earthly crown. He served His Father. Likewise, we are to serve Him!
5. Spiritual Discernment—5:16. If we define who we accept and choose to help according to worldly standards we will fail because the world is clueless at seeing the heart—only God sees inside us thus we need to discern His Spirit’s leading.
6. Acceptance—5:19. If God does not count men’s sins against them but instead offers grace through Christ, who are we to exclude people on the basis of judging. Reconciliation is grace-formulated.
7. Application of our Calling—“Everything is from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: . . . Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, certain that God is appealing through us. We plead on Christ’s behalf, “Be reconciled to God.” He made the One who did not know sin to be sinfor us, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (5:18,20,21).
Our world is diabolically led, diametrically aligned to heaven yet still desperate to know the truth. God called you and me to Himself not so we could waltz our way to heaven unconcerned for the lost. Are you willing to be a minister of reconciliation? Something to think about . . . in reveration.
©2004 Daniel York ARR. Reveration is the weekly devotional ministry of First Cause. If you would like to receive these devotionals go to www.firstcause.org and click on the “Click here to receive weekly devotionals” box. Unlimited permission to copy this devotional without altering text or profiteering is allowed subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.
Ecclesiastes 12:10-The Teacher sought to find delightful sayings and to accurately write words of truth. (Holman CSB)