While on vacation this summer I was visiting a church and the pastor’s sermon was from Luke 5:17-26 where the paralytic is lowered by four of his friends through a hole in the roof (because the crowd is so great they can’t find another way to get him to Jesus) and in making this extraordinary effort he is lowered in front of Jesus so that he could heal him.
In the spring as we went through the Rise Campaign we talked a lot about multiplying the Movement of the Gospel that God has been growing in NYC. And this story of the paralytic made me think about our calling to help grow this movement in three new ways.
1) We have to actively pursue the opportunities God presents to us. In the story of the paralytic the friends had obviously heard about Jesus being able to heal people and so they took an active role in helping their friend. By making the time to take the paralytic there and then lifting him on the roof they brought him to a place where he could meet Jesus face to face. They engaged in personal ministry where they lived in a relationship they had with their friend.
2) God has a role for each of us that is essential. The pastor spent several minutes in his sermon to stress how critical it is that each of us take inventory of our lives to make sure we are prepared and have allocated time to serve where God leads us. There were four friends. Imagine how much more difficult the task would have been for three of them (and close to impossible for one or two of them!) There was a specific purpose and necessary participation needed from each of the paralytics’ four friends.
Many times it can seem like there are enough people already serving in a ministry or it can feel like it’s just too hard to make a commitment to do something. But when we open our hearts to God’s call we get to be part of something amazing—gospel renewal. We talk about it a lot, but sometimes it can seem like it happens outside of our everyday lives. The fact is, God is doing amazing things all around us and you have a role to play in ministering the gospel. Which is the last point from the story of the paralytic:
3) When the gospel is presented, life changing renewal happens. When the paralytics’ four friends opened a hole in the roof and lowered him in front of Jesus they were simply doing manual labor as friends, but their faith was in the restorative power that only Jesus could offer. They knew if they could help get their friend to Jesus, he could bring amazing life altering renewal.
We are being called as a church to multiply gospel renewal all over the city, by rising and giving ourselves to personal ministry. As a new ministry year begins, our prayer is that all of us would invest ourselves in new ways to minister to neighbors, coworkers and friends all across New York City.
It’s the perfect time to consider how you can minister the gospel. Maybe it’s time to give a community group a chance by being part of a 7 week beta group. Perhaps it’s time to sign up to serve with a Hope for New York affiliate near your neighborhood. Or this fall may be the perfect time to bring a friend to a worship service or church event. Whatever God is calling you to do, your role is essential in bringing gospel renewal to the city. When his friends helped the paralytic meet Jesus, he was restored spiritually and physically changing his life forever and when you help people encounter the gospel, God uses your personal ministry to bring his renewing grace and love to more of the city.