Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Jesus And His People Run Toward The Fire

"So he got up and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion for him, and ran and embraced him and kissed him." 
Luke 15:20

Las Vegas is one of the 5 least religious cities in the US. Less than 29% of its residents identify with any type of religion. The percentage of evangelical Christians, those experiencing new spiritual birth by faith in Jesus Christ as the Son of God, is much lower. It may be only 6% of the Vegas metro area of nearly 2 million people. So, the massacre of October 1st occurred in a city that is largely devoid of belief in any God.

Last week I heard Vance Pitman, pastor of Hope Church in Las Vegas, talk about how God led him and his family there to plant the church, how it has been blessed, how it is reaching out with love and the Gospel to the multicultural city, how over 60 Iranian Muslims who live there have believed in the last few months, over 50 language groups attend their church, and on and on. It was so exciting to hear that when God saw "Sin City," He didn't run away. He ran to it.

He has run to Vegas for years as believers have labored in the Gospel there. He ran to it when Pitman and others planted Hope Church. He ran to the sin-broken people of that city, just as He runs to the sin-marred people of every city and town. Like a fire-fighter running toward the fire while everyone else runs away, Jesus runs to sinners. If he runs toward the fire, so should his body.

Run with prayer. Pray for believers on the ground in Vegas as they run toward the broken. Maybe God wants you to run to Vegas. Maybe you should move there and join in the mission of the Gospel in a lost city and culture. Pray for yourself and your own church, that you will run toward the fire in your own town, your own city, with the love and Gospel of Jesus Christ.

To run toward something requires you to run away from something. Run away from doubt and skepticism. Fill your heart and mind with the Word of God so that you believe, with Paul, in the power of the Gospel to save any and all. Run away from judgmentalism. When Katrina struck New Orleans, some said it was because of the city's wickedness. Maybe it was. God knows. But, when God sent a message of judgment to Ninevah, Jonah ran away rather than to that wicked city that had oppressed his people for many years. Why? He ran away, because he knew that God did not send a message of judgment so that he could turn the Ninevites into ashes. He sent the message so that the people would hear, believe, repent and turn to God for life. So, run to "Sin City" and the sinful in every city with the love and Gospel of Christ.

One more thing. Let's run away from politics. Let the pundits and 24 hour news cycle spin the gun control issue, but you, Christian, run away from that. While it is certainly an important discussion, it is not an eternal one. People need Jesus, not political agendas. Run with him. Run to the broken, the outcast, the prideful, the sinful. Run to the fire. That, I believe, is where you'll find him.