"Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. (Matthew 11:28 NRSV)
An informal survey was made at a missions conference twenty years back. Forty pastors and cross-cultural missionaries were together. And one speaker posed the question: What image do you have in mind when you present the gospel of Jesus Christ to someone? Do you see it as snatching brands from the burning fire, or as inviting people to a feast?
You know what they said? The pastors said they saw it as snatching people from a burning fire. And the missionaries said they saw it as inviting people to a feast. Interesting. The pastors had an image of plucking brands from the fire.
We of the clergy are often visited by people in distress--people in trouble--people at their wit's end--people who have nowhere else to turn. It is not rare for people to turn to the church when their worlds have fallen apart. It is easy for pastors to see ourselves bringing healing to broken hearts--rescuers pulling people from the flames of lives gone awry.
But the cross-cultural missionaries saw their task as that of inviting persons to a feast. This is an entirely different approach to the life of faith. The missionaries see themselves not as healers of broken lives but as emissaries of the King inviting people to experience a reality more desirable than anything they have known before.
Dear God, help me to do less fixing and do more inviting. In Jesus name, Amen.
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