Saved By Giving Us A Cup Of Cold Water (12.16.13)
"...anyone who welcomes an upright person [a Christian] because he is an upright will have the reward of an upright person. 42 If anyone gives so much as a cup of cold water to one of these little ones [apostles] because he is a disciple, then in truth I tell you, he will certainly not go without his reward." Matthew 10,41b-42
"Just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of his will..." Ephesians 1,4-5.
We worship a risen but still pierced lamb (Revelation 5,6)- an eternal reminder of how rejected he was.
One guy, Simon of Cyrene, was forced to help Jesus carry the cross of Calvary (Matthew 27,32).
In his earthly mission, especially at the end, Jesus was forced to teach in private (Matthew 10,26-27), and was persecuted, and rejected by almost everyone.
He warned us that if that's the way it was for him, that's the way it will be for us too (John 15,20-21, even within families Matthew 10,34).
We don't hear much preaching nowadays about us facing rejection when we are out spreading the gospel in the good old USA. I don't know exactly why this is, but perhaps it has something to do with the fact that, by and large, most denominational churches here are still prospering financially.
But Consider Revelation 2,15-17, regarding the still prospering church of Laodicea:
"I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold or hot, I will vomit you out of my mouth. Because you say, 'I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing'- and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor blind and naked."
Sometimes God sees things differently than we humans do.
Now despite our present day complacency, something has changed in our culture, perhaps permanently.
This change should be stirring us up, but in fact, I fear it is just making us more complacent.
We Christians are not culturally dominant anymore.
And as this new reality becomes the norm, there's seems to be a non biblical spirit of resignation, of retreat, and cultural appeasement.
We're just sort of content to have a prosperous church, like Laodicea.
But this is no time for complacency.
It's time to get more deeply rooted in the scriptures, searching for signs of hope, and rooting ourselves in a more faithful and mature witness that still speaks to the lost and hurting.
Something more than 'join our prosperity, by the way how about a $4 latte?'
One of the scriptures that is helping me in this challenge is Jesus' summation to his "little ones", to his apostle-gospel servants, his "upright ones", Matthew 10,41-42.
These verses (see above) say several important things, either outright, or by implication, such as:
1. Being upright may prompt folks to welcome us, and so be saved;
2. Folks who don't accept the gospel are not necessarily our enemies;
3. Not everybody is going to reject us or our gospel;
4. There are going to people who help us in small ways, and so be saved;
5. Only if we stay on the mission field, and stay upright, stay thirsty, can good things happen.
How many times have we been a bull in a china shop insisting that all around us- friends, co-workers, family members- become card carrying members of our particular faith tribe? And we get all emotional and take spreading the gospel too personally, and then get all too discouraged.
How's that working?
What I'm hearing in the Spirit is that God is the one who chooses and knows who is going to turn to him in faith and be saved.
That's predestination and part of the gospel too (Ephesians 1,4).
Likewise, I don't enjoy saying it but God's word also says the cross is "folly for those who are on the way to ruin" (1Corinthians1,18).
But we take heart God also knows who is going to welcome us as an upright person, or give us a cup of cold water, while we are in the mission field, and so be saved.
These verses are sublime. They seem to tell us that Jesus sufferred such great emotional and Spiritual rejection on the mission field that he now extends his salvation mercy to folks that help us in the smallest of ways there.
That's how much he wants the gospel to be spread to all the world.
This is a great mercy to us in the mission field- his word is showing us the extent that he will go towards helping us ward off discouragement
To hear of this all around mercy, lifts my spirit, again.
It fires me up.
It also takes some of the pressure off me and you spreading the gospel- knowing that our efforts to win souls- may also be fruitful if we do nothing more that represent him well enough to evoke a welcome, or a cup of water.
I don't know about you, but this makes me feel optimistic. "I" (who am I) don't have to win souls (He does it!), so much as continue to be salt and light, no matter how "bad" our culture seems or gets.
So how can we get discouraged when "our soul winning" doesn't bear immediate fruit, or when so many Christians don't spread the gospel on our particular team or in our particular fashion: "If they are not against us they are for us." (Mark 9,40-41)
I had a bit of a bad attitude about the mysterious bible doctrine predestination as a younger Christian.
In my gospel ardor I thought that everybody who heard something about Jesus, would repent!
Some people don't.
Jesus couldn't do much in Galillee. Did Jesus have a sub par missionary strategy?
I'd also seen cocky Christians, before the cultural eclipse of Christianity, humbug predestinarians, sort of dismissing folks based on appearances, as if some folks are too much work, or permanently outside God's favor.
This was just prejuidice and ignorance.
Jesus can save anyone.
I'd also seen folks who had experienced all manner of miracles and supernatural graces right in front of their eyes, sent directly by Jesus to soften their hearts to repentance, folks sent apostles and prophets yet who prefer wordliness to faith.
About these folks, apparently predestined, Jesus said:
"Anyone who is not with us is against us." (Matthew 12,30)
And yet whatever our experiences on the mission field, and our views on biblical predestination, souls are still being won and lost every day.
And if we lay aside our complacencies as modern day churchgoers in the good old USA, we also realize that there is a vast amount of folks who have never heard or received the gospel from a fervent human being right in front of them.
And who knows, they just might turn to Jesus in faithful repentance.
If we warmed up again to our human part in spreading the gospel.
Or, they might at least welcome us in, or give us a cup of water.
And be saved.
Think of Matthew 10,41-42 when faithless family members come to mind. They sure helped you!
Think of these verses when we are tempted to weary of our efforts to spread the gospel to all.
Take heart- Matthew 10,41-42 says that if these folks have already helped us in the smallest way in our gospel mission, they will have their salvation reward.
In the face of this mercy of our ever living, risen and pierced lamb, can you or I have any complacency about how ferevently Jesus wants us to continue spreading his gospel?
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Tobin Hitt is the founder of the Zion Pentecost Mission. He is open to gospel partnership with all, and identifies with Paul's description of our mission as ambassadors for our king, Jesus, urging all to reconcile with God (2Cor.20-21). He resides in Cheshire, Connecticut.read more...