The White hats (The Syria Civil Defense) Volunteers are the shining lights amid the travesty and apocalypse which is Syria.
· They go to where bombs have hit and rescue people.
· There’s a phrase to describe the essence of the White Hats – they Run to it.
o Even knowing that there will be danger even a double tap
o And even though the long team cost (PTS) is inevitable – (scene of the one man after the baby had been rescued)
I saw this same determined courage last month on the news when a handful on May 1 in Myrtle Springs Texas through themselves into flood waters to rescue a family.
· Phillip Ocheltree, his wife Emily, their infant son Marshal, and their toddler daughter Addyson were buried under water.
Run to it.
And of course in our lifetime perhaps the mlost poignant example of running to it is what hundreds of first responders did on 9/11 – as people ran out of the WTC they ran to the danger and in the end lost their lives.
Run to it. Run to the danger. Run to the tragedy. Run to the chaos. Run to the brokenness. Run to the need. Run to the uncomfortable. Run to that which will likely cost you dearly.
Run to it. It is the mantra and heroes and heroines. And it is one of the very first lessons …and expectations… Jesus laid upon those curious enough to follow him.
· He built it into their DNA
· He formed their world view around it
· He prophetically called them to it
Jesus fully expected that anyone who bore his name…who associated themselves with him…who identified with Him…would be people who would run to it.
Does it define you? Do you, like the White Helmets naturally run straight into the teeth of danger for the sake of others? Do you live like the first responder you were intended by Jesus to be?
This summer we are seeking to define ourselves. To define you. Any of you who refer to yourself by the nickname Christian.
· By the end of the summer you should have a composite picture of the kind of person Jesus wants you to be.
Last week we kicked off this series – studied the opening section of Mark and learned:
1. We are the people of the Good News!
2. We are people who proclaim the Good News!
The Good news being, in Jesus words, God’s good news of His Kingdom being present and active in healing the 6 Broken Places of this world.
Our takeaways were:
· You don’t have the luxury or being private with your faith.
· You don’t have the luxury of believing that your faith is just one of many options.
· You don’t have the luxury of being angry and belligerent.
· You don’t have the luxury of a halfhearted relationship with Jesus. It’s all in or nothing.
Oh…and if the good news isn’t at the core of your life…. Then please stop calling yourself a Christian.
All right – here we go back into the story… Mark 1:16 page 829
What does it mean to a Christian?
(1:16) One day as Jesus was walking along the shore of the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew throwing a net into the water, for they fished for a living. 17 Jesus called out to them, “Come, follow me, and I will show you how to fish for people!” 18 And they left their nets at once and followed him. 19 A little farther up the shore Jesus saw Zebedee’s sons, James and John, in a boat repairing their nets. 20He called them at once, and they also followed him, leaving their father, Zebedee, in the boat with the hired men.
· Thus begins a pattern…and expectation – leaving comfort and moving into discomfort
o Comfort was the everyday life , family , the known
o Discomfort = soon it would get way more uncomfortable but Jesus hints at discomfort with his “fishing for people”… though I doubt they understood what that meant at the time …They soon did!
(1:21) Jesus and his companions went to the town of Capernaum. When the Sabbath day came, he went into the synagogue and began to teach. 22The people were amazed at his teaching, for he taught with real authority—quite unlike the teachers of religious law. 23Suddenly, a man in the synagogue who was possessed by an evil spirit began shouting, 24“Why are you interfering with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One sent from God!”25 Jesus cut him short. “Be quiet! Come out of the man,” he ordered. 26At that, the evil spirit screamed, threw the man into a convulsion, and then came out of him. 27Amazement gripped the audience, and they began to discuss what had happened. “What sort of new teaching is this?” they asked excitedly. “It has such authority! Even evil spirits obey his orders!”
Don’t miss this…the very first place Jesus takes his people is into the face of sheer evil.
· The man was a 10 on the scale of demonic presence.
o Likely he had been like that for a while and believed it had jurisdiction “why are you interfering with us”
o Evil that so controlled a man that it spoke through him …took over his body and left him writhing on the ground
· The lesson – This is who we are. We run to it.
o To be Christian is to deliberately run to the worst of the worst in humanity
o To not skirt but address the dark unknown
o To face that which cannot be controlled by human ingenuity
And this was their first day on the job. Guys, you have 1 job. We run to it.
(1:28) The news about Jesus spread quickly throughout the entire region of Galilee. After Jesus left the synagogue with James and John, they went to Simon and Andrew’s home. Now Simon’s mother-in-law was sick in bed with a high fever. They told Jesus about her right away. So he went to her bedside, took her by the hand, and helped her sit up. Then the fever left her, and she prepared a meal for them.
Next danger a sick room. Likely they were asked to go because she was in dire condition.
· Was her disease incurable – making this embarrassing in failure ?
· Was it infectious – making this dangerous?
Regardless. This is what we do. We run to it.
PS – if ever you know of someone hurting, ill, in the hospital ignore your first reaction…
· “I don’t want to bother them. I’m sure they have lots of people caring for them. I’ll be in the way. I don’t know what to say.”
· IGNORE those excuses…you are a Christian – you run to it!
o We run to pain. We run to trouble. We run to struggle. We run to danger.
(1:32) That evening after sunset, many sick and demon-possessed people were brought to Jesus. 33The whole town gathered at the door to watch. 34So Jesus healed many people who were sick with various diseases, and he cast out many demons. But because the demons knew who he was, he did not allow them to speak.
Quick note on this section
· That night ended with an exclamation mark of intensity…in 24 hours they got a fire hose!
o 3X Many sick, many demons
· An add another danger – public scrutiny – Vs 33 - the whole town came to watch
(1:35)Before daybreak the next morning, Jesus got up and went out to an isolated place to pray.
· Don’t miss this - This is such a welcome insertion in the story – We run to it. But we cannot survive if we don’t regularly run back to God!
But it is interesting what happens next…
(1:36) Later Simon and the others went out to find him. When they found him, they said, “Everyone is looking for you.” But Jesus replied, “We must go on to other towns as well, and I will preach to them, too. That is why I came.” So he traveled throughout the region of Galilee, preaching in the synagogues and casting out demons.
Maybe I’m reading into this but I think Simon (Peter) may be implying “hey – let’s hang out a while here. People are digging us and we’ve made some excellent headway. We caught a bunch of people! I’ll fire up the grill…throw on some lamb…hang out…
Jesus reply: No Simon…we aren’t going to hang out. We have to go. This is why I came and this is what we do. We go. We leave. We keep looking for pain and danger.
We run to it. We don’t run from it. We rest. We recoup. And then we go again.
To be Christian is to be perpetually restless…and weary.
Side note: I’ve had people over the last 2 years say to me and others, sometimes with a snarky tone of voice …wow, what’s all this expansion at grace? Fishers, London, Bloomington, why Australia, why North Indy? Is this some form of hubris?
Nope. Not arrogance…it’s obedience…we are running to the need.
(1:39) So he traveled throughout the region of Galilee, preaching in the synagogues and casting out demons. 40 A man with leprosy came and knelt in front of Jesus, begging to be healed. “If you are willing, you can heal me and make me clean,” he said. 41Moved with compassion, Jesus reached out and touched him. “I am willing,” he said. “Be healed!” 42Instantly the leprosy disappeared, and the man was healed.
Yet another danger…another need…another tragedy.
· Leprosy or skin disease was Physically debilitating
o disease of the nervous system related to the tuberculosis bacterium. Leprosy is spread by human contact and breathing…sneezing…etc.
o Patients with leprosy experience disfigurement of the skin and bones, twisting of the limbs, and curling of the fingers to form the characteristic claw hand. Facial changes include thickening of the outer ear and collapsing of the nose.
o Tumor-like growths called lepromas may form on the skin and in the respiratory tract, and the optic nerve may deteriorate. The largest number of deformities develop from loss of pain sensation due to extensive nerve damage. patients with advanced leprosy experience a total loss of physical pain.
o When these people cannot sense touch or pain, they tend to injure themselves or be unaware of injury caused by an outside agent.
· Leprosy was a social death sentence - had to stay 6 feet from other humans and 150 ft. downwind. Mostly they lived alone
· Spiritually it was believed to be the judgement of God for something in their life so bad that contact with a leper was one of the most defiling things you could do 2nd only to touching a dead body.
So, look what Jesus did:
· Vs. 41 He (reached) stretched out …not casual touch but an aggressive reach
· Vs. 41 He touched…not a polite brush of the hand but means a strong grip
He didn’t just run to it – he embraced it.
And note here we get our first sense of motive – “moved with compassion”
o Not intellectual
o No cost benefit analysis
o No strategic plan
o It was gut level compassion
o And it was in incredibly risky!
§ Physically – he could contract it
§ Socially – we could have been rejected by the crowd
§ Spiritually – he could have been relegated to distance from God
But Like the Syrian White Helmets who could be killed…or Likewise the folks in Texas or any first responder who puts their life on the line…
Jesus ran to it…to heal and to teach his followers that if you claim to follow me then know this. This is who we are. We run to it!
This then is what it means to be a Christian. You OK with this?
· Is this who you are?
· Does this describe you? Is this a part of your identity?
Need some examples? What should we be anxious to run to?
· A person in physical danger
· A person in deep pain
· An angry skeptic of the faith
· A person who you know who will suck the life right out of you
· A demonized person
· An animal in deep pain or danger.
· An environment that is in utter decay
· A community so broken that it is dangerous
· A community or group of people that are completely out of your comfort zone
To be Christian is to Run to it!
Fred is the kind of guy who does it very well.