Saturday, August 09, 2008

Happy Feet! (Romans 10:5-15)

OK, waitaminute. Jesus says, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven.” But Paul says, “Everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved.” So what’s going on?

Well, maybe the difference is in these two ideas – Jesus talks about the Kingdom of Heaven, and Paul talks about being saved. Perhaps there’s some important theological difference between the concept of the Kingdom of Heaven as described by Jesus and salvation as described by Paul. We know that the “Kingdom of Heaven” is an important theme in Jesus’ message and also in John the Baptist’s. We also know that Paul spends a lot of time in Romans talking about the meaning, impact and effect of salvation.

So, is there a sense in which saying “Lord, Lord,” is insufficient for attaining the Kingdom of Heaven, but calling on the name of the Lord is sufficient for salvation?

Beats me. I think there’s a more important point in there for me as a Christian, which is what Paul writes in the last verses of this passage. In order for people to call on the name of the Lord, they will need to believe in him, and they won’t believe in him if they’ve never heard about him, and they’ll never hear about him if no one ever talks about him.

I imagine we’ve all heard at one time or another a church member from somewhere say something like, “Well, I don’t go around preaching at people – that’s the preacher’s job!”

And it is in fact the preacher’s job. But the preacher didn’t get that job when he or she was ordained. They got that job when they were baptized. In fact, if your preacher stopped being a preacher today, their duty to share the gospel would be just as strong tomorrow as it is now.

Now, of course not all of us are called to the same kinds of ministry and not all of us have the gifts to communicate the gospel in the same way. Some people have the gift to reach large numbers of folks with the message and provoke a wide-ranging response. Some people have the kind of mind that can explain some very complex things about God, human beings and the relationship between them in a very understandable way.

And then some of us – a lot of us – muddle through, wondering most of the time if we even understand the gospel ourselves, let alone know it well enough to share it with someone else. We spend enough time asking, “What’s that mean?” that we’re pretty sure we wouldn’t have many answers if people asked us that same question.

But even us slowpokes have people we know and we know them better than the people who have all the answers and all the clever phrases and all the right words to say. We know them from work, we know them in our own homes, we know them from school or from someplace else. The key is, we know them. The chair of the church council doesn’t know them. The chair of the evangelism committee doesn’t know them. The youth director doesn’t know them. The preacher doesn’t know them. But we do.

And those are the people who, if we care about them, are some of the ones we most want to know the Lord and have the gift of God alive in their lives. I certainly pray for the unchurched folks around the world who need to know Christ. I hope they hear the word and come to know him. I even support the efforts of some people to bring them that word.

But how much more can I pray and how much more can I do for the ones who I see maybe every day of my week? How much more impact can I have on someone who can trust my words about God because they trust me?

Paul quotes Isaiah in verse 15. How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news, proclaim peace and proclaim salvation, Isaiah says, who say to Zion, your God reigns!

To be one who shares the good news with another is to be as wonderful in their lives as would be the person who says, “The Lord has returned!”

And each of us has our calling to be that person in the lives of someone else. Maybe not everyone else, but at least someone else.

My friends, it’s our duty to have feet of beauty…

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