Reach | Devotion #6: Reach
Chuck Lindsey | Reach Pastor
We say the word “reach,” but what does that actually mean? For me, a picture is helpful. When I hear the word “reach” my mind immediately sees the Olympic runner stretching forward with everything he has as he crosses the finish line. On the heels of that, I see the picture of someone who has dropped something just out of reach, who leans and stretches to try to get that item. This is Reach. It means that we use whatever methods we can, to go beyond the walls of our churches, to share the Gospel with lost people. We want to reach them. Reach is “leaning forward” (if you will); it is a collective “stretching out” to do what Jesus told us to do, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15 NKJV).
If I were to try to condense a “how to” on reaching lost people, it would come down to two main things: Knowing the Gospel and loving people.
Know the Gospel – Do you know the Gospel? In short, the Gospel is the message of what God has done to save lost people. Do you know it? Can you explain it? Can you walk through it from memory? If not, I would encourage you to practice this! It might be an obvious statement, but how can we expect God to use us to share a message we do not know and cannot explain?
A good place to start is by memorizing what is perhaps the best-known verse in the Bible, John 3:16. The whole of the Gospel is encapsulated in this single verse. There we see the love of God for sinful humanity, a love that caused Him to send His Son to a cross for our sins so that we could be with Him forever. The best part, it is simply by belief (not by works!). Do this, grab a sheet of paper (or your phone notes app) and write the verse down at the top of a piece of paper, read it, read it out loud, and then read it phrase by phrase. Next, write down each phrase in the verse (“For God,” “so loved,” “the world”) and what it means (Who loved? God did. Who did He love? The world/people. What did He do? “He sent His Son”). Next, ask a friend or loved one to let you talk through it a few times with them. This will really help to cement it in your mind. Have your friend “quiz” you, ask them to throw one of the phrases at you (i.e. “that whosoever”) and explain it. Peter said it this way, “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear” (1 Peter 3:15 NKJV). Once you are able to walk through it confidently, you are equipped.
The next step is to love people – I am not talking about a “yeah, I love people” kind of thing. I am talking about a deep, broken-hearted, cry from your heart to reach the lost. This is an absolute game changer. John Hyde demonstrated what I am talking about when he famously prayed, “Give me souls God or I die!” The person that genuinely prays this is going to find God using them to do what they are asking Him to do. How do we come to love people more than we love ourselves, our comfort, or our priorities? It happens, first and foremost, by a humble, repentant confession to God that we do not do these things. It is an admission to our Lord that I do not love people the way I should and asking for His forgiveness for this. That is step one. Nothing happens until that does. Next, we must ask Him to fill us with His Spirit, for the Scriptures tell us that the “fruit of the Holy Spirit is love.” Ask Him to fill you with a supernatural love for those who are lost in your life. Next, very practically (do not tune out here) begin praying for the people He brings to mind. Pray that their eyes will be opened, their heart will be softened, and that they will turn to Jesus. Pray daily, specifically, and faithfully. As you do this, you will see “the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us” (Romans 5:5 NKJV).
Lastly, we must actually take a step! I have heard a saying for many years now, and it goes like this: “Share the Gospel, and if necessary use words.” I hate that saying! It is annoying because it is used as an excuse to only “live out the Gospel” rather than actually sharing the Gospel. How about both? There comes a moment when we must open our mouths, trust God for the words, and walk someone through what Jesus Christ has done for them. The person who has taken the time to equip themselves with the Gospel and is passionately praying that God will use them, will find that He still uses people to rescue people. Just consider for a moment what it will mean to you to be in Heaven and have our Lord Jesus point to one person, two people, a family member, or a crowd, and say, “They are here because you asked Me to use you. They are here because you prayed. They are here because you shared My message with them.” It will be joy eternal!