I read a very strange and very sad story this morning. The headline was, “Man mauled to death trying to take self with a bear.” Go ahead and admit it, if you saw that headline you would click on it as well. The story goes like this, the man was returning from a wedding, got out to use the bathroom, saw an injured bear, he decides to take a selfie with it, and the bear kills him. That is bad enough, but what really caught my eye was a little further down in the story. According to the Indian newspaper, The Hindustan Times, there were witnesses to this tragedy. And the most shocking part about it was this line from the newspaper reporter, “bystanders were busy shooting this incident on their mobile phones instead of trying to rescue him.” The report goes on to say that only one person tried to ward the bear off with a stick. Only one person tried to help this man, the rest wanted to record it on their phones! I have several feelings about the man who tried to take a selfie with a bear, but I will leave those alone for now. Because my true outrage and frustration is with those bystanders who did nothing except film a man’s death. But this story also got me to thinking about the state of Christianity today.
In the Gospel of John there is a conversation that Jesus has with His disciples. The conversation is about the fact that there are many people who still need to hear the Gospel and be saved. Jesus says in John 4:35, “Do you not say, there are yet four months, and then comes the harvest? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest.” Jesus there is using a common illustration for His disciples about farming. A farmer tills the soil, plants his crops, and waters his crops. The farmer has to wait until the crops are ready to be harvested. Yet, Jesus is telling His disciples that they don’t have to wait to preach the Gospel and see people saved. There are many who are willing to hear the Gospel and God is drawing them now to salvation. Jesus’ words to His disciples was this, get busy sharing the Gospel because people need it, and many are ready to receive it. In another time, Jesus sent out 70 disciples to preach the Gospel. In Luke 10:2 Jesus says, “The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few: pray therefore the Lord of the harvest, that He would send more laborers into His harvest.” Again, Jesus is emphasizing the overwhelming need of people to hear the Gospel and be saved. Jesus says we should pray that the Father moves in the lives of others who will feel the call to share the Gospel because there are so many people who need to hear it.
Then there is the flip side of this. It is found in 1 Corinthians. The apostle Paul had founded the church in the city of Corinth. It was a church he loved and prayed for. Yet, word came to him that they were having a lot of problems. There was a lot of fussing and fighting in that church, they were suing each other, the “haves” were flaunting what they had in front of the “have nots.” It was a complete mess in Corinth. So Paul spends the first 11 chapters of the book trying to biblically correct their corrupt behavior. At the end of chapter 12 Paul says, “and now I will show you a more excellent way.” Then he immediately launches in 1 Corinthians 13, which is commonly called the love chapter. Paul then writes about orderly service and how a worship service should be done before reaching the climax of the book. The climax of 1 Corinthians is chapter 15. It is the single greatest chapter on the reality of the resurrection and why it matters. And about half way through this chapter Paul writes this, “Awake to righteousness, and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame.” Paul is talking about the greatness of the resurrection, why it matters, and how it should shape how the Corinthian believers should live and then he drops the hammer on them. He basically says, you have the greatest story ever to tell, the story that could change people’s lives just like it changed you, and you aren’t even telling the story to people. I have to wonder if the apostle Paul was alive today, would he say something similar to many churches? Too many Christians are like the bystanders in the story, they just want to sit back and observe what is happening. Undoubtedly they talked about how tragic it was that the man was mauled to death. Some probably thought the man was foolish for trying to take a selfie with a bear, just like many in the church complain about how bad society has become. But at the end of the day, they did nothing about it and too many in the church are doing the same! We have been given an incredible opportunity to share the Gospel with more people than ever. With social media, blogs, podcasts, easy world travel with airplanes; we have all that we need to share the Gospel. Yet if the numbers are accurate (and we have no reason to believe they aren’t), the Gospel is getting shared less now than previous years. I want to appeal to all Christians, beginning with myself, this must not continue. We must get off the sidelines and get busy sharing the amazing, life-changing, life-transforming truth of the Gospel. May we be those laborers that Jesus spoke of in Luke 10, and may we pray for more laborers to join us as we share with the world the glorious truth, Jesus saves!