“All night long on my bed I looked for the one my heart loves; I looked for him but did not find him. I will get up now and go about the city, through its streets and squares; I will search for the one my heart loves” SOS 3:1-2 (NIV).
Two and half years ago, I stepped on a plane headed for Fortaleza, Brazil. The inner-city is held hostage by drugs, crime and poverty. The trip reached far outside my comfort zone. But I went with a purpose. That purpose was to make a difference for Jesus.
My heart has been burdened for quite a while with the idea that time is short. Jesus is coming soon and I need to “be about my father’s business.” I shared this burden with a dear friend. She understood and was also burdened to reach out in some practical ways to help others in the name of Jesus. Together, we’ve collected, packed and delivered school supplies for under-privileged children. Over the holidays, her daughter felt this burden and approached her church about helping the homeless. So together we purchased, packed and delivered hot soup, gloves, socks and Bibles for the homeless. Although our efforts would be considered small in light of the great needs around us, I believe Jesus sees our hearts and actions and is pleased with our willingness to follow him.
The Song of Songs is one book of the Bible that has always intrigued me. I’ve read it over and over. It is the ultimate love story. The passages switch between the voice of the bridegroom, the bride and the bridal party (friends). They speak of each other as my beloved and my lover.
Through the often-poetic pros I began to see a picture emerge of Jesus and his church, especially his church today. The Song of Songs reads of a bride awaiting the arrival of her bridegroom, lying on her bed of comforts. He tries the door of her bed chamber only to find it latched. He’s sweaty and out of breath and he calls for her to open the door. The bride says, “I’m cleaned and ready for bed. I’ve washed my feet and hands and anointed my head. Should I rise up and open the door only to get all dirty again?” The bridegroom reaches his hand through the small crack in the door and pulls at the latch. Unable to open it, he calls for his lover.
When the bride sees his hand and hears his cry, she rises and rushes to unlatch the door. As she touches it, she realizes it’s dripping with the myrrh. Did this represent the sweet presence of her lover? Was this an anointing for her to follow him? Could it have represented his impending death? Or, did it represent her death to comforts? I don’t know, but she swings open the door to find her lover has gone.
The bride begins her search. Rushing out into the streets and through squares. “Have you seen my beloved?” “Do you know where he has gone?” Finally, she finds him there.
Some believers today have gotten too comfortable in their Christianity. They are washed and don’t want to get their hands and feet dirty. They are nestled, snug within the four walls of their sanctuary neglecting the cries of the lost in the streets and squares.
If we could visit churches throughout America this morning, I believe we would find a comfortable bride going about her weekly duties, much without her bridegroom.
If we could walk the streets throughout America this morning, I believe we would find a bridegroom pleading with his bride to open the door, to rush out and follow him.
With so much preaching about how God wants to bless us and give us the desires of our hearts. I’m afraid we’ve grown too religiously comfortable and have missed our Jesus in the streets, with his hands and feet in the grime, lifting destitute souls to his side.
That’s his calling for us. That’s his purpose for us. To spread the Good News far and wide. To take up our cross and follow him.
I know I’m not the only one God has disturbed with the undisturbed church. I’m not the only one God is rousing out of her comfort zone. I see a restlessness beginning in the hearts of his people. A restlessness for more of Jesus. A restlessness to follow hard after to him. To search for his presence. To call out, “Have you seen my beloved?” “Do you know where he has gone?”
This morning, a dear friend stepped away from his family and business. He’s headed to the other side of the world. Not for pleasure, but for Jesus. He wants to carry God’s message of love and forgiveness to those less fortunate in hopes of making a difference in God’s kingdom.
I’m thankful for those whose hearts are moved to reach beyond the borders of the United States. I’m thankful for my time in Fortaleza, Brazil. I was deeply affected by that journey. It was eye-opening to see how people live in other countries. We are extremely blessed in this country. So much so I believe we take it for granted.
But we don’t have to fly to another part of the world to find our mission field.
It’s right here.
We find it in our subdivisions, apartment complexes, farming communities.
It’s right here.
We find it on our jobs, in the marketplace, on our Facebook pages.
There are souls that need help. There are souls that need Jesus.
Unlatch the door to your heart. Lay aside your comforts. Rush out into your streets and squares.
Help others to know Jesus is here. Jesus is alive. Jesus saves.
Touch others today with open-hands, ministering to the physical, as well as the spiritual, needs of the homeless, the powerless, the broken.
Jesus called us to love our neighbors. Please don’t sidestep his call like the Pharisees. “Who is our neighbor?” They are our neighbors.
Love (action word) them, In Jesus’ Name.