Saturday, July 30, 2011

Eleven Men

We just finished a week of special meetings at my church. Every night but one we had the pleasure of hearing from a missionary we support, updating us on the work being furthered in their field. Then, after they shared, our guest evangelist preached a message each night. He spoke every night from Matthew 28 - the Great Commission - and his sermons were some of the most practical mission messages I've ever heard. Nothing vague or cliche; he was right to the point, challenging and convicting.

I love mission conferences!

Last night, Friday, was our last meeting, and Dr. Bane did something unusual. He began his message by asking for eleven volunteers from among the men in the congregation.

Our church body is not huge, and not everyone was able to come to the meetings, and not everyone there was a man, and not every man was bold enough to volunteer, so - all in all - it took awhile to get 11 men up front.

Then Dr. Bane asked them to face him, and he spoke to us all.

"This is what Jesus had to work with. After his resurrection. He's down to just the eleven, now, since Judas isn't there. Twelve main leaders among his disciples. And at the top of the mount, he commands them to go into all the world and preach the gospel."

Here Dr. Bane began to pretend he was the Lord, walking back and forth in front of his group of 11, and looking them in the eyes.

"Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost; teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you..."

Dr. Bane looked out at the rest of us. "Can you imagine the conversation as the disciples walked back down that mount? 'We're supposed to reach the whole world? Just the eleven of us? You got any money, brother?' 'No - you?' 'Nope, silver and gold have I none.' 'Well, do you know anybody in high places?' 'I do, but they're all after my head!'"

As Dr. Bane spoke, I sat in my seat and looked at those eleven men.

Eleven men made a smaller group than I thought.

They were so different.

Four grey-haired men. One younger than me. Two bikers. Two very shy men. One very outspoken man. One politician. Two preachers. One builder. One from a medical profession. Some wearing suits. Some wearing polo shirts. Some wearing leather vests. None of them rich. None of them influential in a big way beyond our community.

It gave me a totally new way of looking at the eleven disciples. This is what Jesus had! A unlikely group. A group of very diverse men. A tax collector and a zealot. Fishermen. Farmers, perhaps. One outspoken. Two "sons of thunder." All of them were prone to doubting and bickering amongst themselves.

But when the Holy Spirit gave them boldness and love for God, they were unstoppable. These were the men who preach at Pentecost and 3,000 people were added to the church. These where the men who, as the Romans themselves said, "turned the world upside down."

Sometimes it's good to step back from the mindset of little Bible stories and scripts and tradition, and take a good healthy look at reality.

History wasn't dressed up. It wasn't laid out in neat little scripts for people to act out. It was real life, happening to real people, with a real God making things happen.

Somehow, looking at those eleven men last night, I got excited.


Deb said...

Amber ~ I loved this post because I love making scripture come to life. You captured it perfectly. Sounds like a good week! ~ Mrs G

Amanda said...

Wow ~ what a great way to make a lasting impression! It reminds me again that God can and will use anyone who will give themselves unreservedly to Him, regardless of their age, profession, social status, wealth, or other "qualifications." May we all be vessels READY for the Master's use!