In 2012 Dr. Michael Youssef, who is the founder and President of Leading the Way Ministries, wrote an article about a Christian Sunday school teacher who was leading a class of boys. After a conversation with one of the boys, the young man prayed and received Christ. That young man was D.L. Moody, who became one of the greatest evangelists of his time.
On one of his trips to England, D.L. Moody preached at a church pastored by another great evangelist named F.B. Meyer. Moody invited him to come to the United States to preach. At one service, a man named J. Wilbur Chapman gave his life to Christ and became a great evangelist. One of the people he led to Christ became his travelling companion. That companion was evangelist Billy Sunday.
After Billy Sunday preached in Charlotte, North Carolina, a group of farmers asked God to do something great for the world, starting in Charlotte. They invited an evangelist by the name of Mordecai Hamm to preach in Charlotte. During one of his services, three young men came forward to receive Christ. Their names were Billy Graham, Grady Wilson and T.W. Wilson. Billy Graham became one of the most respected evangelists of our time, and the Wilson brothers became administrators with the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.
While we are on earth we will never understand what God is doing through each and every one of us. We will understand this only when we get to heaven. One lone Sunday school teacher impacted generations of Christians by doing God’s work. If that one Sunday school teacher can have such an impact, just think of how our ministries or our gifts can be used by God to impact the world.
In Mark 9:38-50 we read that in their struggle for position, the disciples were upset to find that an exorcist was casting out demons in Jesus’ name, especially since recently they were not able to heal a demon-possessed child. Every mature Christian can be drawn into “turf wars” in the church. Jesus said that anyone who does God’s work in his name is a partner in ministry, not a threat to ministry. There will be no peace in our world until we have peace in our hearts. God loves us all the same. God’s will is for liberty and justice for everyone. We do not have peace in our lives if we try to protect our turf and destroy the weak among us.
In Jesus’ time, salt both preserved and seasoned food. It also came with impurities that could make it useless. Jesus tells us to get rid of the impurity of selfishness and show the purity of self-sacrifice for the benefit of others. Any little thing we do in Christ’s name will be rewarded. Jesus tells us that if there is nothing distinctive about our lives, it is no good for us to be followers of Jesus. There is no use in following him if we don’t make any real contribution to the life of the world, or if there is no redemptive power flowing through our lives and our actions.
So what does it mean to be a “salty believer?” Let me give you an example. Legend has it that a missionary was swept overboard while traveling on very high and rough seas and was subsequently washed up on a beach at the edge of a remote village. Nearly dead from exposure and lack of food and fresh water, he was found by the people of the village and nursed back to health. He lived among them for twenty years, quietly adapting to their culture and working alongside them. He preached no sermons and made no personal faith claim. Neither did he read scripture to them.
But, when people were sick, he sat with them, sometimes all night. When people were hungry, he fed them. When people were lonely, he gave a listening ear. He taught the ignorant and always took the side of the one who had been wronged.
The day came when some missionaries entered the same village and began talking to the people about a man named Jesus. After listening for a while to their story, the native people began insisting that Jesus had already been living in their village for many years. “Come,” one of them said, “We’ll introduce you to him.” The missionaries were led to a hut where they found their long-lost companion.
All sacrifices we make to serve Jesus are accompanied by hardships, suffering or persecution, so we should not be surprised when these things happen. Believers are purified through suffering and persecution.
Jesus was not commanding self-mutilation when he said that if your tongue, foot, hand or any other body part causes you to sin, cut it off. He was talking about the importance of doing whatever it takes to actively oppose sin. For example, if an addiction to pornography causes you to sin, cancel your Internet service and stop buying adult magazines.
Professing Jesus’ name means living the life that Jesus lived. This means driving out the demons of intolerance, injustice, strife, grudges and poverty, to name just a few. We as Christian disciples are to focus on what we are to do in Jesus’ name and not be quick to criticize others who also follow Christ but who do not belong to our church, church group or denomination. We must not fault people or churches who do things differently than we do. We must assume that what they do is “in His name.” There are many different ways to do things for God, and if someone chooses to do something that is different from the way we do things, we are not to stop them from doing it their way.
We are not to be like the lady who cornered my father one day and asked him which church he belonged to. He did not belong to either of the two churches in the community. When he told her which church he belonged to, she replied, “Well! That’s what I was afraid of!” She turned around and walked right out of the post office.
We must not look for labels or titles. We must look for attitudes, actions and spirit. Jesus rejoices when he sees mercy, justice and compassion in our lives, because when he sees them he sees God at work in our world. How we live the life Jesus lived is more important than having the right documents or the right membership cards. Jesus has invited us to join his eternal family. The invitation means that he lives through us so that our words and deeds might be a loving response to his grace.
Jesus’ love knows no limits. His compassion never runs out and it isn’t limited to a select group of people with the right credentials or disposition. There is plenty of his love for everyone. Jesus is the face of the God we can’t see; the God who wants to forgive all sinners, and not just a few; the God who wants to reach out and heal everyone who is sick physically and/or spiritually, not just a select few.
We must be very careful about how the example we set influences other people. Every person is a role model for either good or evil. The best way to show love for the children of God is by loving God and keeping his commandments. Our commitment to Christ affects how we live our lives. Our lives are enhanced when we follow Christ. Our lives will be more effective and have more impact. Christ will give us the strength we need to fight our sinful nature. The burden of our sin runs away at the foot of the cross. The Kingdom of God is a treasure that is worth giving up everything to get.
- Jeremiah, David: The Jeremiah Study Bible, NKJV (Brentwood, TN: Worthy Publishing; 2013)
- ESV Study Bible. Part of Wordsearch 10 Bible software package.
- McKenna, D.L. & Ogilvie, L.J.: The Preacher’s Commentary Series, Vol. 25: Mark (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc.; 1982)
- Jude Siciliano, O.P., “First Impressions, 26th Sunday (B).” Retrieved from www.preacherexchange.org
- Michael Youssef, Ph.D., “A Powerful Perspective.” Retrieved from firstname.lastname@example.org
- King Duncan, “The Ultimate Solution for Sin.” Retrieved from www.esermons.com
- King Duncan, “Losing Favor or Losing Flavor?” Retrieved from www.esermons.com
- King Duncan, “About Other Denominations.” Retrieved from www.esermons.com
- King Duncan, “Can’t We All Just Get Along?” Retrieved from www.esermons.com
- Brett C. Blair, “Be At Peace with One Another.” Retrieved from www.esermons.com
- King Duncan, “Choices.” Retrieved from www.esermons.com
- Thomas Peterson, “The Needle’s Eye.” Retrieved from www.esermons.com
- Donald Strobe, “Radical Surgery.” Retrieved from www.esermons.com
- Exegesis for Mark 9:38-50. Retrieved from www.lectionary.org
- Dr. Keith Wagner, “Salty Believers.” Retrieved from www.lectionary.org
- Pastor Dave Risendal, “Do No Harm.” Retrieved from http://onelittleword.org/?p=7337
- Jude Siciliano, O. P., “First Impressions, 26th Sunday (B), September 27, 2015.” Retrieved from email@example.com