“And when Jesus returned to Capernaum after some days, it was reported that He was at home.And many were gathered together, so that there was no more room, not even at the door. And He was preaching the word to them. And they came, bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men. And when they could not get near Him because of the crowd,they removed the roof above him, and when they had made an opening, they let down the bed on which the paralytic lay. When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, ‘Son, your sins are forgiven.'” Mark 2:1-5
The mission: to get this paralytic man to Jesus.
The method: through the roof.
Granted, not a traditional way of going about things, but with the crowds pressing in, traditional means of walking through the door would not work in their goal to carry their friend through, so they had to adapt to the situation. These four men with their love for their friend, because of their faith in what Jesus could do, became innovative. They stuck to their mission, yet were willing to do whatever it took to get this man to Jesus.
When addressing this account, C.H. Spurgeon said that “Faith is full of inventions” and considered Luke 5:19 to say that since even the tiling had been removed, it would have most likely resulted in dust and caused a measure of danger to those below, “but where the cause is very urgent we must not mind running some risks and shocking some proprieties.”
What keeps us from being creative in our mission (and when I say our mission, I mean God’s mission that He’s called us to) when there are souls perishing?
This may be an overgeneralization, but speaking from personal experience, I like the way I do things and don’t want to change it up, sometimes to the point of saying any other way of doing it is simply wrong.
Have our preferences caused us to lose focus of the mission? Have we elevated the importance of nonessentials at the cost of the gospel?
We need to take a lesson from these four men. We need to adopt their sense of urgency and their innovation. We need to now because this world needs Jesus.
It would be unwise to stop here and imply that the end justifies the means. After all, God is not looking for us to become drug dealers to reach druggies (“hey, you want some crack? sweet, I’ll hook you up. Oh and while you’re at it, just give your life to Jesus. By the way, drugs are bad”).
Many misquote the apostle Paul when he said “I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some.” Here are a few surrounding verses of the text:
“To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law...I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel…” I Corinthians 9:21-23a
“Not being outside the law of God, but under the law of Christ” provides some right limitations: we are to remain on mission, being culturally relevant and theologically sound (to paraphrase Mark Driscoll), and yet, whatever the strategy developed and executed is, it should never violate scripture. But we need to be willing to exhaust all possibilities and resources for the sake of Christ and His mission.
Most importantly, we need to listen to the voice of Jesus.
“Jesus said to Simon, ‘Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.’ And Simon answered, ‘Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at Your word I will let down the nets.’ And when they had done this, they enclosed such a large number of fish that their nets were breaking. They signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. They came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink. But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, ‘Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.’ For he and all who were with him were astonished at the catch of fish that they had taken, and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, ‘Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.’ And when they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed Him.” Luke 5:4-11
Three things happened as a result to listening to the Lord:
1. Innumerable amounts were caught, so much that it could not be easily contained
2. There was a realization of their own insufficiency and that God deserves the fullest glory by this and not them.
3. They left everything and followed Him.
I’m reminded of the first and last thing Jesus ever said to Simon Peter: “follow me” – what’s a result of following Christ? We become fishers of men. We accomplish the mission… to make disciples.
The point is not how you go about it, but that you do, and if you are following Jesus, then you will be.
So then the real question is this: are you following Jesus?