Luke #66 – Hand in Hand
“And He preached in the synagogues of Galilee. And it came to pass, that, as the people pressed upon Him to hear the word of God, He stood by the lake of Gennesaret” (Luke 4:44-5:1 – King James Version).
I love to play billiards. I hardly play these days for lack of time and a decent place in which to do it. Recently, I was playing at a friend’s house. A young person saw me using two items on the end of my stick and wanted to know what I was doing. First, I showed them a small block of blue chalk that I put on the end of my stick to help the stick and ball make good, non-slipping contact. Later on, the young person saw me using an abrasive tool on the end of the stick. “Doesn’t that take all of the chalk off?” asked the teenager. It was good thinking and I said as much. Then I explained that many times the end of a pool cue becomes so slick that it will not and cannot hold chalk. One must take the abrasive tool and rough the shooting end of the pool cue; this roughing process not only softens the tip, but it provides a means by which the chalk can then stick to the shooting end of the cue. Both items not only have a place, but are very much needed to help the cue function properly.
In today’s verses we find our Lord Jesus teaching in the synagogues and on a lake shore. As you investigate the Gospels you will see that Christ shared the message of salvation and how to properly walk with God no matter where He was or what platform He had to speak from.
There are two key things that this passage makes me think of. First, we need para-church organizations. Some Christians frown on para-church organizations, but I am a great fan of these ministries. Often an organization that works outside the boundaries of church life can have a more focused ministry than the staff and laypersons of the local church could have. In the same way, many times a church cannot go where a para-church ministry can with laws that govern the separation of church and state. Also, the average church has many ministries going on at one time and a para-church organization can devote itself fully to one type of ministry. Many times a para-church ministry focuses on more than one thing, but I have never seen nor heard of a para-church ministry that has as many different ministries as any local congregation.
The church is a well organized body whose main focus is growing saints into the fullness of Christ Jesus. The synagogues of Jesus time functioned much in the same way. One moment Christ was teaching in the organized synagogue and the next Jesus was out on the lake shore doing the same thing. Both of these ways of ministering to people were important in Jesus’ time and are important today.
The second thing this passage makes me think of it the fact that we must leave the hallowed walls of the church building and meet people where they are. Too many times we sit back hoping people will be dazzled enough by our programs to come to us when what we need is to take to them what they need. Jesus understood that there was plenty of ministry to do to people in organized religion, but there was a lot of ministry to do outside of that as well.
Like the sanding tool and the chalk, para-church ministries and the well founded, organized church do not seem to go hand in hand, but they do. Like the two tools for preparing a pool cue to function properly, both in-church and outside-church efforts are needed. The sanding tool prepares the stick for the chalk. Outside-church and para-church ministries often prepare people for church.
Support and participate with God honoring para-church organizations. Get out of the church walls and meet people where they are. The point is not to bring them to your church, but to introduce them to your savior. That introduction alone will get the vast majority into a church body. Church work and the work done outside of the walls go hand in hand. Forsake neither…support and participate in both.