What direction will you run?

A good friend of mine, Matt Lincoln, serves Jesus in a community most people try to avoid.

Matt challenged me like he does many others by saying that tragedy, crime, and brokenness should not be reasons to run away. Instead, those should be heard as cries for help.

Gospel opportunities.

When we consider our own lives, we do not have to travel very far to see that Gospel opportunities in the midst of bad situations are all around us.

Broken dreams, broken relationships, pain, drug addiction, alcoholism, broken marriages, broken lives, hurt feelings, hedonism, sexual perversion, sexual immorality, hatred, racism, division and the list can go on and on. But you get it... there is a lot of brokenness around us.

We naturally gravitate to what is comfortable and try to avoid broken situations. For most people, it is not easy to voluntarily and joyfully get involved with someone else's brokenness.

When we ignore God's call to bring hope through the Gospel in these situations, we forfeit the chance to grow in Christ, experience God more deeply, and see God work in powerful ways. We forfeit the opportunity to see the Gospel at work.

Take Nehemiah for example. He engaged in the brokenness of others when he did not have to. His job as King Artexerxes' cupbearer afforded him a good life and the privilege of living in the King's palace, located in Susa which was 800 miles east of Jerusalem.

Nehemiah, who was Jewish by descent, became aware of the brokenness among the people of Jerusalem after a group that visited the area reported to him that the walls of  Jerusalem were in disrepair.

Hanani (Nehemiah's brother who led this group) reported that "those who survived the exile and are back in the province are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire." (Nehemiah 1:3) This represented the spiritual brokenness of God's people.

During Nehemiah's time, city walls represented strength, protection and security. It was a symbol of national pride, unity and identity.

Jerusalem’s broken walls indicated that Jerusalem was weak and without protection from its enemies. The broken walls also reflected low morale and spiritual decay.

Nehemiah said, "When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven." (Nehemiah 1:4)

Nehemiah wept because he knew Jerusalem was not where God wanted it to be—people lived through the consequences of their sin and rebelliousness toward God.

Nehemiah could have stayed in Persia, lived a comfortable life, and not worry about the broken walls.

Instead, Nehemiah traveled 800 miles westward to lead the rebuilding of the walls in Jerusalem. Nehemiah did this because God called him.

Choosing God's call required Nehemiah to risk everything. He chose hardship, faced darkness and lived among the broken.

In 52 days, the walls of Jerusalem were rebuilt, the people turned back to God, and the people experienced God in the midst of darkness. The result of this was a great national reform, revival, spiritual awakening and turning back to God.

Nehemiah experienced all this because he was obedient to God's call.

Imagine what Nehemiah would have missed had he stayed in Susa. I wonder how many 0f us miss seeing God do great work in and through us because we choose to remain comfortable when God is calling us toward challenging Gospel opportunities.

What do the broken walls around us look like?

What does the brokenness around us cause us to do? Weep, reach out, show compassion, share the Gospel?

How do we react to the "broken walls" around us? Do we run toward or run away? What does running toward it look like?

Do we see Gospel opportunities? A Chance to point people toward God in the midst of their brokenness....

Can you think of situations where brokenness and darkness cried out like sirens saying, "help us."

Family, neighbors, classmates, co-workers, strangers, teammates, people overseas, the oppressed, the poor, the hungry, those shunned, the rich, immigrants, people from all nations are crying out for help.

The list can go on and on but you get the point.

We can enter people's darkness in many ways--friendship, lunch, coffee, conversation, listening, encouragement, ministry, mission trip, missions, etc. Whatever God is calling you to do, be faithful. Go toward and do not run away or avoid.

You could be the one God uses to let others see the Gospel lived out. More importantly, you could be the one to share the Gospel.

Be obedient to God in all circumstances good or bad. Do not just run into hard circumstances because they are hard. Likewise, do not only seek good circumstances because you see that as God's blessing.

Seek God in all circumstances and follow Him. Be willing to go anywhere God calls and do whatever He calls you to do.

Earnestly seek God for ways God could be leading you to be part of Gospel opportunities in the midst of brokenness. Pray for the strength to be obedient. Follow the Holy Spirit so that your obedience will be a reflection of what Jesus is doing in you.

You see, the key to entering someone else's darkness and brokenness is not you trying on your own strength and power. It is a response to what God is already doing in our lives through Jesus.

It's about the Gospel.

Only through Christ are we able to see what God wants us to see. Only through Christ are we able to overcome our own human propensities and choose to do God's will. Only through Christ do we find the motivation and true reason to do all this.