The meal at Out Flow was over and the Wednesday Night Bible Study was about to begin. The room seemed in full flight! We are witnesses of endemic lack of interest in spiritual things among the folks I spend so much time with. I know that each has heard of the Saviour’s love because I have told most of them, at one time or another. They see, day after day, that love demonstrated by God’s agents, as they cook and serve and house folks.
A few of us remain to worship through song and hear Phil open God’s word to us. Each Friday there is a mini exodus as I introduce our “Word from Our Sponsor”, though on that occasion most like our meditation. People will remind me when we are coming to ‘half-time’.
As an evangelist, one of the greatest temptations is to become discouraged at the crowds who show no interest, and sometimes even contempt for, the Good News. It is at precisely this point that we need to reflect on the practise of our Saviour. He came with the clear message “Repent and believe! The Kingdom of God has come!” He shared this message with Peter and James and John as the most inner of the circle of disciples. He shared it with the twelve as a whole. He shared it with Judas, even when he knew that Judas resisted and betrayed that love! Right to the last he continued to share and demonstrate the love of God to Judas. The proclamation and demonstration was not about Judas lack of saving faith but rather about Jesus unending faithfulness in his love for Judas, and the world.
Jesus proclaimed the Good News of the Kingdom to the crowds. He demonstrated the love of God to the 5000. He taught the multitudes. He watched as they like the crowd at Out Flow departed rather than consider the idea of changing (repenting). The multitudes seemed to flock for food and entertaining miracles but stopped short of any consideration of costly change. Still Jesus continued to love and teach and illustrate the Kingdom undeterred.
He sadly watched the Rich Young Ruler walk away. He saw Nicodemus slip back into the darkness after their first encounter, but we know that the word took root that night and we suspect it did so with the Rich Young Ruler. Not everyone came back but some did! The exponential growth of the early Church following Pentecost must surely have been spurred by the faithful proclamation and demonstration of Jesus during his walk.
As the Pharisee’s hostility grew he continued to proclaim unwaveringly the Good News to them. Most mocked him and even plotted against him but Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus ‘heard’ him. Saul the Pharisee’s Pharisee becomes the great missionary.
There is no room for discouragement. The folks who do not ‘hear’ today’ may ‘hear’ tomorrow or soon or, alas, never, but how can they hear if we do not proclaim and demonstrate? If there is any failure let it be our friends ‘refusal to hear rather than our failure to proclaim and demonstrate the Good News. The example of our Saviour spurs us on to continue and not be disheartened.