Cherish or Perish!1
Recently I had the opportunity to visit the work of Nomads, with a band of brothers from New Life Church. Our meeting place was in an open parking lot in a parked bus that was operated by one of the believers in the camp. Thankfully it was not during summer, so the bus made for a cozy, comfortable, makeshift meeting place.
It was something special, singing praises and worshipping our Lord in a different language, while seated in this stationary bus. Kashif translated for us, and shared some of the struggles of these men who live far away from their families and loved ones. One man shared how he had not seen his family in two years, and sends money religiously to support them. He felt his youngest son was demon possessed because he was so rebellious and dysfunctional. There were men from Nepal, Pakistan as well as India present at this service with similar heartbreaking stories. Some of these men were believers, others were not, but all were very attentive and interested in what the gospel was speaking into their lives. As we closed the service, we broke up into smaller groups and had the privilege of praying for these men and their physical, emotional and spiritual needs.
As the week passed and I had time to reflect on our ministry there, I could not help but think of Luke 4:18-19, where Jesus says "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favour."
These verses, Jesus was reading in a synagogue in front of a crowd from the book of Isaiah. After Jesus finished reading these verses, ‘He rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant, sat down and declared to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing." (v.21). Centuries earlier the prophet Isaiah had proclaimed these words (Isaiah 61:1-2). Now Jesus announced that He was the fulfilment of that promise.
Notice who Jesus came to rescue – the poor, brokenhearted, captive, blind and oppressed. He came for people dehumanized by sin and suffering, by brokenness and sorrow. He came for us!
Whether we live in the labour camps or in the suburbs, Jesus came for us. Thank God for Jesus Christ! Thank God, Jesus came to save us from our sins! Sin is the enemy, sin is the reason for all our problems. We live in a broken corrupt world, where misery, sadness and heartache are very much part of our lives. But we live with hope, because Jesus came to set the captives free!
It’s amazing, isn’t it? Humanity sins. We turn our backs on God—not just once, but again and again and again. And yet God in his mercy sends his Son, his own child, to Earth—this germ-infested, sin-ridden, God-rejecting place—to save us from the much deserved “condemning wrath” of God. (Rom. 8:33) Too often we hunger and thirst after all the wrong things, and we suffer. We suffer because of our own sins and because of the sinful world around us. And yet, despite all our failings, all our needs, Christ still chose to come to us, to suffer, to walk where we walk, and to call us to his side, just like a father to his child.
Remember that! Don't ever forget it. As John Piper once said “Cherish or Perish. Once we forget our need for a Saviour, we will not cherish him... If we do not cherish him as a Saviour, we do not have him as a Saviour. And if we do not know and feel our need for a Saviour, we will not cherish him.”
This week, thank God for the gospel; thank God for sending Jesus Christ!