Eighteen years. Seems like a long time. And it is. So much can happen in eighteen years.
Imagine living for eighteen years with a demon that cripples you. For eighteen years, you walk hunched over so much and for so long that you can’t straighten up at all. Miserable. Absolutely miserable.
We meet this woman who’s been living like this in Luke 13. She walks into the synagogue on Sabbath day where Jesus is teaching. As she walks in, probably just trying to hurry to get a seat because of the pain, Jesus calls on her to come to the front. That’s when he heals her. “Woman, you are set free from your infirmity.” He laid his hands on her, and immediately the stood straight up. For the first time in eighteen years, she was able to stand straight up. And she praised God.
You might think everyone would start applauding. But the synagogue ruler stood up and said, “There are six days for work. So come and be healed on those days, not on the Sabbath.” Seriously? You are complaining about a miracle taking place because of the day it occurred on? The synagogue was supposed to be a place of refuge, healing, and spiritual transformation. Apparently it had not been.
I’m going to stop there in the story, but I want to encourage you to read Jesus’ response to the synagogue ruler (Luke 13:15-17).
I believe there’s a very profound principle for Christians everywhere. A principle for our churches and for our youth ministries.
We, the church, the body of Christ, should be the place where people can go for spiritual healing and support. We should be that place. We should be known for that.
But if we aren’t careful, we can fall into the same trap that the synagogue ruler fell into. A trap of a lack of compassion. A trap where we forget our purpose. A trap where we forget the mission we’ve been sent on by our Savior.
People walk into our buildings and teen rooms all the time just like the crippled woman in Luke 13. They are crippled by sin and bad choices, nervous about how people will see them, and wanting to slip in the back unnoticed. They worry about what people think about them, what people are whispering about, wondering if anyone will talk to them. They seek spiritual healing and change, but don’t necessarily know what to do to find it.
How can we help someone on their journey for spiritual healing? How can we help someone who’s been crippled by sin and bad decisions?
Speak to them. Do your best to make everyone feel welcome. Introduce yourself. Ask them some simple questions about themselves to generate discussion. It might be awkward, but that’s okay.
Ask them to sit with you. It’s nerve-wracking walking into a building where you don’t know anyone. But it can be so encouraging when someone asks you to join them. Then, introduce them to your friends.
Follow up with them. Get some contact information from them and send them a text the next day thanking them for coming. If they are new to your school, find them on Monday and help them find their classes and meet new friends. Invite them back on Wednesday. Let them know where they can meet you when they get there.
These may sound like simple things. And they are. But they make such a huge difference.
If we don’t do these things, we won’t be the church and/or youth ministry that Jesus called us to be. We won’t be a place of spiritual healing and support.
Let’s be known as a church & youth ministry of love. Let it rain.
If you would like to read the rest of the CrossCreek YM Weekly Update for March 30, 2014, click here: CrossCreek YM Weekly Update (3.30.14)