Today is the last in our series, “One here, One there, One everywhere.” Since the title of this series sounds like the title of a Dr. Seuss book I decided to go with it and share some fun facts with you each week about Dr. Seuss and here’s one more:
Did you know that Dr. Seuss was a communist? He wasn’t, but the book Green Eggs and Ham was banned in China because they thought it portrayed ‘early Marxism’. As a result, Green Eggs and Ham was outlawed in China until Seuss’ death in 199. Despite being banned in China, Dr. Seuss has sold over 200 million books. His books have been translated into 20 different languages.
I don’t think Dr. Seuss had any idea that he would have this kind of world-wide impact. If you think about it, I don’t think you could really plan something like that. People would have thought that Dr. Seuss was crazy if he told people books like Hop on Pop and One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish would be translated in 20 languages and be dispersed throughout the world. It probably would have sounded arrogant. With that in mind let me read you the verse from the Bible that the “One here, one there, one everywhere” series is based on. These are Jesus last words:
“You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”– Acts 1:8
In that moment Jesus was calling his shot. He was telling anyone who could hear him that word about him would not only be told in the local haunts like Jerusalem and Judea. But word about him would go global. It may have sounded arrogant but it could not be more true. It’s impressive that Dr. Seuss is translated in 20 languages, but do you know how many languages the Bible is translated in? As of September 2016, the full Bible has been translated into 636 languages, and 3,223 languages have at least some portion of the Bible.
In Acts 1:8 Jesus challenges us with this calling: reach people here, there, and everywhere. It’s what He said to his disciples and it’s what He challenges us to do as well.
That’s an important challenge. It’s a worthy cause. It’s a charge we all need to get fired up about. But let’s be honest. It can also be pretty guilt producing. Think about it. It’s our job to reach people everywhere. We are responsible when people show up at our church. We are supposed to be the ones that care for people in our neighborhoods and work places and softball fields. We are told to take this message all over the world. There are all kinds of needs in this world and God is telling us, “Okay, you’re it. You’re responsible for all this. Go out there and get ‘er done.”
Just before Jesus died he told a story with these words in it:
“37 The righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ 40 The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ “–Matthew 25:37-40
It’s our job to care for those who are hungry. Its our job to clothe people. It’s our job to care for the sick and visit those in prison. God puts that on us. Let’s think for a second about all the needs that there are in the world that God is calling us to care for:
- There are 795 people in the world who go to bed hungry. That’s one out of every nine people in the world. Jesus said feed them.
- 45.5 million people in our world currently find themselves in some form of slavery. 10.3 people around the world are in prison. Jesus said visit them.
- 140 million children worldwide are orphans. Jesus said clothe them.
There are so many needs in this world. Add onto these stats all the disasters that happen around the world:
- Every tsunami
- Every earthquake
- Every hurricane
- Every tornado
Each time you hear about a disaster on the news, people are displaced and hungry and hurting and need help and God calls us to care for this world in need.
Add on top of that personal tragedy that we hear about in our lives:
- You hear about friend who has a kid that is sick.
- You hear news about a friend that is battling cancer.
- You have couple of friends who’s marriage is struggling.
- Another friend who just went through a divorce.
- You know a family who has a prodigal son and their battling with that.
We feel pulled to reach out to them as well.
When you add up all of these hardships and disasters and personal tragedies, it really is overwhelming. There are times when I’m hearing about all this stuff going on in the world and the tragedy around me that I just want to shut down and block it all out. I just want to stop listening to it. Unplug my TV. Ignore the internet. Turn off my phone. It’s… just…so…much. But Jesus tells us we can’t do that, we can’t turn it off.
Am I the only one who is overwhelmed by this? This is what I hear in these passages. Here, there, everywhere. Your job is never done. Keep working. There is always another homeless person. There is always another hungry person. Someone around you is widowed or orphaned or imprisoned. There is always someone who is sick.
Small Answer to a Big Problem
This has been a pretty fun post so far don’t you think?
Let’s see if I can turn it around for us and free us all from being overwhelmed by this burden. I believe the answer to this problem is found in one word. That word is in our mission statement and it’s also in our campaign for this year. It’s probably the word that has been most overlooked to this point. Unless we read this one word we will always be tired and guilty and worn out. It’s the word “One.”
When we hear about all these issues everywhere it’s so overwhelming because this is how we read it: We need to reach everyone here, and everyone there and everyone everywhere. We are not asking you to do that. I don’t believe Jesus is asking you to do that. We are simply asking you to reach one.
Jesus wants to reach everyone but I don’t believe his goal was to reach them all at once. Think about it: In his life, Jesus reached people one at a time. If you look at how Jesus did life it seems almost crazy the way he tried to reach people. If I’m Jesus, I try to run things like a Billy Graham crusade. Just get everyone in a stadium and tell them all at once. Jesus rarely spoke to large crowds. Almost all of his work was done one person at a time. One blind man at a time. One paralytic at a time. One tax collector at a time. Let me show you the great lengths that Jesus went to for the one.
35 That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” 36 Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. 37 A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. 38 Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” 39 He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. 40 He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” 41 They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!”–Mark 4: 35-41
I’m guessing most of you have heard that story before, but I’m not sure that you and I totally get what it was like that night on the open sea with Jesus. Only the true sea sick would understand what this was like. I once talked my wife into going on a catamaran trip with me. 20 minutes in she turned to the crew and said “I need a seven-up and a bag right now.” My wife definitely gets this story
Let me give you one more fact that you and I don’t typically think about. Most of these guys couldn’t swim. Swimming is a new world activity. I’m guessing the disciples who were fishermen might be able to swim, but most couldn’t. We figure everyone can swim because our parents put us in swim lesson but I’ve traveled all over the world and people in developing countries don’t know how to swim. So, let’s rethink this story. Most of these guys couldn’t swim. Some of them were chumming over the side of the boat. And the journey took all night. Now let’s continue reading the story:
“1 They went across the lake to the region of the Gerasenes. 2 When Jesus got out of the boat, a man with an impure spirit came from the tombs to meet him. 3 This man lived in the tombs, and no one could bind him anymore, not even with a chain. 4 For he had often been chained hand and foot, but he tore the chains apart and broke the irons on his feet. No one was strong enough to subdue him. 5 Night and day among the tombs and in the hills he would cry out and cut himself with stones. 6 When he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and fell on his knees in front of him.7 He shouted at the top of his voice, “What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? In God’s name don’t torture me!” 8 For Jesus had said to him, “Come out of this man, you impure spirit!” 9 Then Jesus asked him, “What is your name?” “My name is Legion,” he replied, “for we are many.” 10 And he begged Jesus again and again not to send them out of the area. 11 A large herd of pigs was feeding on the nearby hillside. 12 The demons begged Jesus, “Send us among the pigs; allow us to go into them.” 13 He gave them permission, and the impure spirits came out and went into the pigs. The herd, about two thousand in number, rushed down the steep bank into the lake and were drowned. 14 Those tending the pigs ran off and reported this in the town and countryside, and the people went out to see what had happened. 15 When they came to Jesus, they saw the man who had been possessed by the legion of demons, sitting there, dressed and in his right mind; and they were afraid. 16 Those who had seen it told the people what had happened to the demon-possessed man—and told about the pigs as well. 17 Then the people began to plead with Jesus to leave their region.”–Mark 5:1-17
So Jesus got into the boat with his disciples and crossed back to the other side of the lake. Let’s total up this little scene real quick:
- Hours traveling on the angry open sea- 8
- Disciples scared out of their wits -12
- Disciples chumming over the side of the boat- let’s say 4
- Pigs killed- 2000
- Townspeople angry- hundreds
People who’s lives were changed- 1
That whole trip took place for one guy. All that chaos and fear and travel and sea sickness and lives in danger and dead pigs and angry townspeople for one person.
This wasn’t uncommon for Jesus. He was always caring about the one. The one leper, the one woman caught in adultery, the one samaritan, the one blind man, the one crippled man by the water. His life was about the one.
It’s All About the One
I want to give you a statement that I think can change your life. A statement that can remove the burden of trying to care for all these people and all these causes. I stole it from author Andy Stanley. Are you ready?
“Do for one what you wish you could do for everyone.”
Our problem is that we live in this world of poverty and hunger and sex trafficking and drug trafficking and we are faced with all these overwhelming issues so we think to ourselves, “it’s too big, I can’t make a difference, I can’t change it.” So instead of doing something, we do nothing. We do nothing for no one because we can’t do for everyone.
As Christians, we can’t do that. I know the world is overwhelming. I know it’s filled with hurting people. I know there are more causes than you can fight for. But you can help one.
My prayer for you today is that God nudges you toward your one. That God will open up your eyes to see that one kid, that one hurting person, that one lost person, that one children’s home, that one mission field. That you’ll open up your heart and God will nudge you toward that one.
Here are some thoughts to keep in mind as you look for your one.
- Go deep rather than go wide
- Rather than trying to help a lot of people a little, try to help a few people, or even one person, a lot.
- Go long term rather than short term
- If you are going to really help someone or change a life, it’s going to take time. You have to be in it for the long term.
Let me end with a story. Several years ago I challenged my elder board to read a book called the Irresistible Revolution by Shane Claiborne. In it, the author made a statement that not only do we not care about the homeless, most of us don’t even know the name of one homeless person. I was convicted by that statement. I drive by homeless people all the time and I even swing through fast food restaurants and buy them food. But I had to admit that I didn’t know any by name. So I made a pact with myself to prove him wrong.
Over the next month or so I made it a habit to bring lunch and eat with the homeless. On one of those visits I met Wayne. Wayne was 6’ 3”, had red hair and a beard, and was pretty decent company. During lunch he told me his story: He was married and he invited a friend who was having a hard time in life to stay with him. Over time he realized that his friend was having an affair with his wife. So Wayne turned to alcohol. Over time the addiction became so great that he got kicked out of his home and ended up on the street. He told me that all he wanted was a new start. A new chance to get a job. A chance to get back on his feet. So for a couple of months I made Wayne my project. He was my one. One time I saw him and he told me he needed a sleeping bag, so I ran home and got one of ours and delivered it to him. Another time he was struggling with heartburn so I ran to CVS to get him medicine. He needed pants, so I went to salvation army to find him some pants.
Over time I stopped seeing Wayne. He just disappeared. So one day I drove around and started asking some of the other homeless if they knew Wayne and might know where he was. I don’t know what I was expecting. Like there is some homeless network or something. But believe it or not, I found another homeless guy who was friends with Wayne. He said that one day Wayne collapsed and they took him to the hospital. He even knew the hospital where Wayne was at and so I went to visit him. I wanted to bring him something, but a get-well balloon didn’t seem appropriate. The only thing I knew he liked was cigarettes. So I went to the gas station and bought him a pack and headed to the hospital. I didn’t even know his last name but somehow I found him. I wheeled him out to the smoking area and we talked. I found out that Wayne had total kidney failure and would be on dialysis the rest of his life. Then Wayne said something to me that I’ll never forget. He looked me in the eye and said, “You’re a good man Jack.”
Do you know how many things I’ve done in my life to try and prove that to myself? Speaking, church work, missions. It never felt as true to me as it did when it came out of that homeless man’s mouth.
In all honestly, I didn’t spend that much time with Wayne. Right now all I can think is that I wished it was more. I’m not sure if I was doing it for him or for me. Honestly, it was probably a combination of both. For a short time, he was my one. Wayne was my friend. I haven’t seen him in years. I don’t even know if he’s alive. But I miss him.
Here’s my hope. That you will find your one. That one kid. That one group. That one couple. That one friend. That God would give you a nudge and show you who’s your one. You can’t change everyone. You can’t fight every cause. But you can change one. You know what I think. I think if everyone did this, it would change the world. At very least it will change you.
[bctt tweet=”Do for one what you wish you could do for everyone #CanyonSprings” username=”canyon_springs”]