Lenten Devotion Day 30
I used to live about 5.5 blocks away from my church. I wanted a church that was very close to my house when I was seeking a new home for worship. The fact the church is a member of the denomination in which I grew up was an added bonus. I wanted a church that allowed me to walk a short distance when I wanted to take part in any events. I didn’t want distance or transportation to be an excuse for not taking part in church activities.
Meetings, Bible studies, classes, funerals, flowers and more, all I had to do was put on my shoes (and a few other clothing items) and walk or ride my bike straight down the street. Oh, yes, my church was not just 5.5 blocks away, it was 5.5 blocks straight down the street. Nice, huh?
Things aren’t always so easy for other people wanting to worship. In some countries, worshippers must come together in secret. In some places, they must travel for miles to worship. No matter the obstacle, people overcome whatever is necessary to gather with other Christians to do what many of us take for granted.
The men in today’s story did whatever they needed to do to get their friend, their paralyzed friend, to Jesus. They believed with all their hearts that Jesus could (and would) heal their friend if only they could find a way to get the friend into the building and into the presence of Jesus.
They tried all the conventional means of entry and found their way blocked. This didn’t stop them. They became creative. Climbing up on the roof and bringing their friend, on his bed, up with them, the men made a hole in the roof and lowered their friend down to Jesus.
Now, imagine for a moment you’re in this worship service, attending this event. Suddenly, a hole opens in the roof and a man on a bed is lowered down and placed in front of Jesus who is in the middle of speaking to the crowd. Better still, imagine something similar taking place during Sunday worship in your church. Right in the middle of the message, a group comes in, begging the pastor to pray for their sick friend.
I remember the time a woman in one of my Bible studies groused at me for commenting when a cell phone rang while I was speaking. I only made a quick joke to relieve the tension but this woman felt I was unprofessional in my conduct. Tell me, where does it say a pastor must be oblivious to life when it happens right in front of them while they are speaking?
How would your pastor handle a similar situation? Would they immediately begin praying for the sick friend, encouraging others to come forward to pray also? Or would they tell the group they needed to wait until AFTER the worship service? I know what we would like to BELIEVE they would do but be honest, what would they really do if their well-prepared message was interrupted in such an abrupt manner?
Jesus, well, He stop what He was saying, what He was doing and turned His attention to life! As He did many times during His ministry, He quickly pointed out that the faith of the men, including the paralyzed man, had healed him. Jesus forgave their sins and told the man to get up and walk. The man rose, picked up his bed and walked out.
Of course, the religious leaders were appalled. Who did Jesus think He was, forgiving sins? They had just witnessed a paralyzed man healed and all they can focus on are the words Jesus used to accomplish the task. WOW!
Sometimes we get so caught up in rules and the way things are supposed to be done that we lose sight of life taking place right in front of us. Are you missing opportunities to minister to others because you are concerned about rules, about the appropriate time, about what other people might think?
Perhaps it’s time to concern yourself more with what God thinks. You might be very surprised what you are able to accomplish!
1. When in the past have you hesitated to do the will of God because you were more concerned about what others would think?
2. Have you ever hesitated to do God’s will because you thought it wasn’t the right time or place?
3. Do you get caught up in rules and legalism?
4. What would you think if your Sunday service was interrupted like Jesus was interrupted?