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Sentness

 By Nathan Carden

 

 

 

 

Do you ever wonder why God entrusts the Gospel to ordinary humans beings like you and me? Surely it would be more effective if God would just handle the entire enterprise. Some suppose that God has done just that, as evidenced in Romans 1, as the Apostle Paul writes:

 

Ever since the creation of the world, God's invisible qualities-God's eternal power and divine nature-have been clearly seen, because they are understood through the things God has made. So humans are without excuse. (Romans 1:20, CEB)

 

Paul suggests that every morally responsible person can and should know right from wrong and that God - creative and powerful - sits upon the throne of the universe. Why then, do Christians carry a burden to introduce all persons to a saving relationship with Jesus Christ? Isn't general revelation about God enough?

 

The story of Philip and the Ethiopian Eunuch in Acts 8 provides a helpful way to think about these questions. Philip is sent by and angel of the Lord to the Gaza road. Traveling along the road is an Ethiopian reading from Isaiah 53, "The Suffering Servant". Philip hears him reading the scriptures and asks him if he understands them. The Ethiopian responds, "How can I unless someone helps me?" He proceeds to invite Philip to sit next to him in his chariot. Philip responds to the invitation and teaches God's Gospel of salvation through Jesus Christ, who suffered and died for the sake of the world. The Ethiopian believes the Good News, and Philip baptizes him on the side of the highway.


It seems from this story that the revelation of God's salvation as revealed in the Old Testament was capable of providing some light for the Ethiopian. He needed, however, the specific revelation of Jesus Christ, God in flesh, before the thirst in his heart could be quenched. And so God sent Philip to listen, respond to the invitation, and shine the light the man needed.

 

Recently my wife and I brought home our newly adopted 4 year-old daughter, Hanna, from Ethiopia. In the early weeks of our adjustment to being a family of five, Hanna naturally and quickly bonded with my wife, cherishing each interaction and each met need. She did not bond so quickly with me, her dad. I deeply desired to hold her in my lap, tuck her in bed, and give her a kiss on the cheek, but she refused my gentle advances. She acknowledged my presence and seemed to enjoy having me around, but had little interest in fully trusting me or showing any affection. Nevertheless, I continued to be available to her and to provide for her care.


About three weeks after Hanna joined our family, I took our two older children out one evening for an errand. When we returned, I held our other daughter, Amelia, who is only 11 months older than Hanna, as I walked in the door. While I was holding her, Amelia kissed me on the cheek and squeezed her arms around my neck. When I set her down, Hanna, who had watched us enter the door, slowly approached me. She raised her arms, gesturing for me to pick her up. When I lifted her up, she placed her head on my shoulder and softly wept for a moment.


Since that moment, she has trusted me freely and enjoys displaying and receiving affection. Think about the sequence of events in our family. From the moment I met Hanna until the moment she let her guard down, I never changed. I was steadfast in my pursuit of her and constant in my provision for her care. I was available. But sweet little Hanna was hesitant.


It took the example of her sister for her to realize that I can be trusted and that in my arms she is safe.


Yes, God is present always and everywhere. On one level, all people can see through creation that there is a Presence, a Power, a Source of life, and an eternal Light. Gods. But Jesus Christ is God's full revelation. In and through Him we experience the Presence, Power, Life and Light of God.

 

As incredible as it may be, God has chosen to use ordinary people like you and me to shine the light of Jesus Christ, so that all peoples and nations may see and experience the life-changing, world-transforming love of God.

 

We are called to God. We are sent by God. Let's go!

 

 

About the Author

Nathan Carden is a husband of 12 years to Kameron and father to Henry (9), Amelia (5) & Hanna (4). He is a United Methodist Pastor in Birmingham, AL and beginning in July 2017 will become the pastor of the Church at Ross Bridge. Nathan graduated from Asbury Theological Seminary in May 2017 with a Doctor of Ministry. Now that dissertation writing is behind him, Nathan looks forward to fly fishing and building furniture.   

 

A Word From James

Greetings from northern China. It was my honor to travel across China with Nathan last year. When I heard him speak one morning, I said to myself and maybe to God, "Wow. He can be my pastor any day!" I am glad you were able to meet Nathan and his family today. He is called and sent...and God is using him to send many more. The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.

 

Is there some way FollowOne can help you, your children and your church use the blessings of God to serve lost and hurting people?

 

 

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