Friday, January 11, 2013

Within His Reach

I've earned three college degrees. I've been called to education as my life's work. Call me old-fashioned, but I admire a well-crafted lecture or a complex concept thoughtfully laid out in an essay. I love "Jesus the teacher." This is the Jesus as a boy lecturing in the synagogue. This is the Jesus they called rabbi, who tutored one-on-one and also masterfully taught  thousand with parables. Sitting at the feet of the great teacher is one of life's great joys given by the holy Scriptures.

But as I said in our first Chapel on Wednesday (view here), Jesus came to save, not only teach. And he came to save not just the religious good guys but detestable sinners and society's bad guys. Jesus came to save the kind of people we most don't want to associate with. We see them as "evil" or "sinful" or just plain "stinkers" who we don't want in our nation, our family or even on our campus.

Mark 5 is a good example of Jesus reaching out to heal the most unclean person imaginable in his world: a violent, nude, demon-possessed man living among the dead in a cemetery (and next to a herd of pigs). Jesus the teacher would not show up at this cemetery, but Jesus the savior came for just such a venue. Jesus the teacher might have lectured the wayward man, but Jesus the savior healed him and commissioned him to go and tell others how God had been merciful to him.

I'll be honest: the demon-possessed man of Mark 5 is just an extreme example of me. I have not been entered by demons, but I have allowed the evil one to invade my life through past sins, emotional traumas, and my choice to withhold forgiveness from those who have hurt me. I need a savior, and Jesus is that to me.

Is anyone beyond the reach of Jesus the savior? The pitiful creature in Mark 5 was within his reach. The pitiful creature that is Dale Lunsford was within his reach. You are within his reach. In word and deed, let's testify of God's mercy to everyone who will seek him. Let's avoid the temptation to judge those we find "sinful" as beyond the reach of his saving grace.