I am who I am today due in part to a guy named Jon Medders. Jon has had a profound impact in my spiritual life, and I'm not even sure he realizes it. God used Jon Medders as the on-ramp for my journey to becoming a Christian. Jon and I were on the same baseball team and became friends during the season. Both of us had a great love for the game of baseball, but our talent levels never matched the level of our passion for the game; and as such we found we had a lot of time to chat and become best friends while sitting on the bench together watching our teammates play.
About halfway through our season, Jon began to (consistently to the point of annoyingly) invite me to come to his church's youth ministry. After running out of excuses why I couldn't go I finally agreed and went with him to a video scavenger hunt. What I discovered completely shifted my then-unchurched mind's perception of what church really was. What I was expecting was a dull, sleep-inducing bible study meeting, but what I encountered was completely the opposite. What I discovered was a community of teenagers and loving adult volunteers who genuinely cared for and were interested in me. For the first time in my life I felt I mattered to someone. I was hooked. I never missed another youth group night again at First Baptist Church of Fayetteville, Arkansas and just over two years later on Wednesday, 26 October 1994 I surrendered my life to Jesus in the choir room of that great church. One year later in June of 1995 I surrendered my life to God's calling of vocational ministry. My life was forever changed by the simple act of being invited to Jon's youth video scavenger hunt. I lost touch with Jon shortly after high school so I'm not even sure Jon knows just how vital a role he has played in my spiritual journey.
You will never know the full impact of your obedience to Christ on this side of Heaven no matter what it is. Jon reached out to me and invited in from outsider to part of a family. This church and my life are a fruit of what happens when someone lives out Colossians 4:5 in which Paul says “Live wisely among those who are not believers, and make the most of every opportunity.” Jon Medders saw riding the bench with me not as punishment from our coach, but as an opportunity to invest in someone. Me. An outsider to christianity.
The greatest impact you can have in this world is by walking towards the outsiders. We've seen this time and time and time again in our core group on friday nights as we've studied the life of Jesus; the woman at the well, the man possessed by a legion of demons, just to name a few. Time and time again Jesus walked towards the outsiders and he DESIRES to do the same today. Jesus wants to use you to walk towards the outsiders in your life. And believe it or not, we don't get a choice. According to 2 Corinthians 5:20, you REPRESENT God to the world around you. You have taken on the job of being the ambassador of Heaven to the world in which you walk. The ambassador speaks on behalf of the entire leadership of the country He or she represents. There's a weight to that. Can you hear it? When you speak to people in your world, if you are in Christ you are speaking on behalf of God to people. Why would anyone sign up for that job? It cost the guy who penned those words his life. It's caused me to leave everything stable and secure and comfortable I've ever known behind. It's cost me everything to be God's ambassador. EVERYTHING. What would ever motivate someone to take on that job description? It's found in verse 14 and 15; “For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again”.
Christ's love COMPELS US. When I think of the word compel I think of one thing: A US Navy Airline carrier. Aircraft typically require long runways in order to gather enough speed so they can successfully take off. Since the runway length on an aircraft carrier is only about 300 feet, compared to the 2,300 feet needed for normal aircraft to take off from a runway, engineers have created steam-powered catapults on the decks of carriers that are capable of launching aircrafts from 0 to 170 miles per hour in just 2 seconds. When I don't think I have what it takes, or I'm too scared, or just plain ol' don't want to, Christ's love compels me into the world to be His ambassador. His great, sacrificial, overpowering, sin-defeating love sends me into the world around me to be an agent of hope and change.
What outsiders are Jesus catapulting you towards today?