Several years ago there was a song that was popular on Christian radio stations that still strikes me as a powerful reminder of a central truth: People Need the Lord.
“Every day they pass me by, I can see it in their eyes. Empty people filled with care. Headed who knows where. On they go through private pain. Living fear to fear. Laughter hides their silent cries, only Jesus hears.
People need the Lord, People need the Lord. At the end of broken dreams, He’s the open door. People need the Lord, People need the Lord. When will we realize that we must give our lives for People Need the Lord.”
During an earlier period in my life, I thought that this undeniable truth could be satisfied simply by “getting people saved” but now this reality screams a deeper imperative. People do need the Lord, but the sickness of the human soul will not be remedied by the easy “magic” of a momentary emotional stir. No, the truth is People do need the Lord, but the illness is so deep, they need Him in His fullness. They need Him in His wholeness. They need Him in His visible, identifiable, tangible, and embraceable Body. People need the Lord in His Church!
Look at our Gospel Lesson today in Luke 10:1-15. We won’t quote the whole passage but please notice this section:
At that time, the Lord appointed seventy other disciples, and sent them on ahead of him, two by two, into every town and place where he himself was about to come. And he said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; pray therefore the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. Go your way; behold, I send you out as lambs in the midst of wolves.
The Lord makes it clear over and over again, setting precedent after precedent, that sending those who have received His life out to share that which they have received from Him to others is simply plain to all honest believers. One cannot hide from the history of the Faith as well. Normal Orthodoxy has always been a missionary faith, always, no exceptions, ever! The Faith is simply not the normal Orthodox faith if it is hoarded and hidden. It just isn’t. Over and over again we’ve witnessed and experienced the debilitating effect of an ingrown mentality on the spiritual health of the Body of Christ. Without the vivifying element of our communities being spiritually healthy enough to “gestate” and bring to maturity new disciples of the Lord, our communities wither and fade away. It’s not conjecture, dear ones; it’s an observable phenomenon.
To be sure, the Lord warns us we are lambs in the midst of wolves. There will be those voices of fear and shortsightedness that will call us away from this central reality of His Church. They will use harsh and even soothing words to lull us into the stupor of smaller visions. They will cry that we must “protect” this or that smaller vision of the Faith over the clear command of our Lord to “make disciples of every nation.” And they will be wrong. They lack what we Orthodox Christians can never lack if we are to be purposeful Orthodox: loving our neighbor as ourselves. How can we, in good conscience, withhold such spiritual healing; spiritual food, from so many who are starving for Christ all around us? What answer will we give the King on That Day to His wisdom and life freely enjoyed by us and then selfishly hoarded by us while others whom the Lord loves grope in the spiritual desert of chaos and confusion?
Today, People Need the Lord. They need to see Him. They need to hear Him. They need to be embraced by Him. And Christ has made it plain that we, His Church, are His continued Physical presence in the earth; His arms, His feet, His voice. Jesus Christ, today, this very moment, is still asking us to pray that the Lord of the harvest will send laborers into His harvest. Today you will interact with someone so ready to come to the healing home of His Church; His Body. Are you willing to be the visible presence of the Lord to someone today? You can be. The truth is, you must be, because today People Need the Lord! That’s normal Orthodoxy.
P.S. Dear Lord, Your scriptures declare that You have not given us a spirit of fear, but of love, power, and a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7). So You call us to boldly offer Your Good News to everyone around us, not fearing how they will react to it. Help me today to see that everyone around me needs You as much as I need you and help me top love them enough to show them the way to You! Amen!