Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Take the message of salvation “off the map.”

            More than 300 years before the Savior was born, Alexander the Great was marching across Asia Minor. His army, under his leadership, was certainly the greatest army ever assembled up until that time. They conquered every foe. No one could stand up against them. When they reached the Himalayan Mountains, the leaders on the front line came back to Alexander and said, “We have marched off the map. We should go back to where we know.” They had literally come to the end of the known map of that day. Alexander listened to them and then said, “Mediocre armies always stay within the known areas. The great armies always march off the map.”
            Alexander the Great wasn’t the only conqueror to give the orders, “March off the map!” Jesus, the One who conquered death, gave those same orders to his army. We find them recorded in Acts 1, verse 8.
            “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes to you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
            The first step in this mission was the fulfillment of Jesus’ promise to send the Holy Spirit to his disciples. The gifts that the Holy Spirit would give would turn cowards into bold confessors; those who abandoned their Savior and hid in fear into ones ready to lay down their life as martyrs. Peter who denied his Lord three times when faced by the questions of a servant girl later challenged those who had crucified the Lord and called them to repentance.
            In time these same leaders of the early church took the good news of the risen Christ from Judea, to Samaria and to the ends of the earth. They took it “off the map.”
            Jesus’ marching orders are still in effect. He calls on you and me to be his witnesses today. He wants us to share that message of salvation with everyone we meet. It begins at home when a mother sings “Jesus loves me this I know” to her young children. It is carried out when we take time to talk to our neighbor or co-worker about the  most important thing in our life. It’s done when a grandfather, lying on his death bed, tells his family that soon he will be in heaven.
            Jesus’ marching orders also include taking the joyous message of salvation even farther. He wants us to take it to “the ends of the earth” or “off the map.” This is done when a missionary takes the Gospel to foreign nations. It’s done when a Spanish speaking worship service can be accessed from around the world via the intranet. It’s done when Bible studies are sent to inmates behind the bars of their jail cell.
            “You will be my witnesses.” This is Jesus’ marching orders. You are part of his army. Take the good news to the ends of the earth. Take it “off the map.”