Isn’t it a pity that the relationships with others in the environments in which we live can be like ships passing in the night? We move past our fellow citizens without even noticing that they exist. Ministry to others is the furthest thing from our minds. We have our things to do and seek activity with our favorite groups of people.
If it wasn’t for newspapers, radio and television, we wouldn’t even know of the needs of people in our communities. Churches have outreach ministries, but the percent of the population involved in outreach is small compared to the need for spiritual and bodily nourishment.
In Mark 1:35-39 we hear: “Now in the morning, having risen a long while before daylight, He went out and departed to a solitary place; and there He prayed. And Simon and those who were with Him searched for Him. When they found Him, they said to Him, “Everyone is looking for You.”
But He said to them, “Let us go into the next towns, that I may preach there also, because for this purpose I have come forth.” And He was preaching in their synagogues throughout all Galilee, and casting out demons.”
Peter and the others were happy to have Jesus in their town. After all, He had just healed Simon Peter’s mother-in-law and many townspeople, also casting out demons. The next morning Jesus went off to a deserted place to pray. Simon Peter and the others went to find Jesus to get Him to see more people in their town. Jesus saw that He was being distracted from spreading the good news throughout Galilee and directed the believers to go with Him to neighboring towns.
Like Simon Peter and the others, we can get involved in celebrating Jesus in our own communities and forget about all those outside who need to hear the message. In neighborhoods right around some of our downtown churches there is a great need for Christ’s message. We drive through and by these neighborhoods to get to our own little church community, never seeing the faces or hearing the pleas. We forget about the need for the message in the jails, prisons, hospitals and nursing homes.
We must model Jesus and proclaim His message to our neighbors, all kinds of neighbors. That is what He came out to do and that is what we should come out and do. The blessings that are found in outreach ministries far outweigh any inconveniences we may suffer in our efforts. I know that my brothers and sisters who go into the prisons learn much about the human condition that applies to all people. Seeing the joy in their faces as the inmates experience God’s love through caring “street people” is awesome.
We must not forget the needs within our own church communities. Obviously an inwardly strong community can perform great outreach and evangelism if it decides to do so. We must be strengthening our communities continually, so that we can better impact those around us. Love thy neighbor.