Keys of the Kingdom
It is likely that few of you who recall the moniker, "Key 73", which was billed to be the largest, most comprehensive, multi-denominational (ecumenical) evangelism effort in modern times. The name "Key 73" was used because the outreach effort idea was born on the Francis Scott Key Bridge between Virginia and Washington DC, and it was supposed to be launched in 1973, resulting in reviving apathetic church members and producing new converts. Some of the most enthusiastic supporters of the movement envisioned a Third Great Awakening bringing Christ to the North American people.
But if you have never heard of Key 73, it may be because one observer very accurately described its true product: a giant yawn. The endeavor failed according to some organizers because the American Church was not willing to share the faith because of fear of rejection or embarrassment. Bring up the suggestion for evangelism and outreach efforts to most church goers, eyes will be cast down and fears will be raised.
Matthew 28 contains what many Christians call the Great Commission: "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. "(Verses 19-20) Sandwiched between those instructions of our Lord are the authority and promises of providence that accompany that call to share the Gospel. The first comes on Verse 18: "And Jesus came and said to them, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me." Those words should be comforting for believers, ending any justification for claims of "comfort zones". For unbelievers, Jesus' claim on authority is why they reject Him. They don't wish His authority because, like we believers, do not fully grasp what Jesus meant. His authority is over all creation, and His cross did away with the sins of believers and unbelievers as well. But unbelievers' see the believers' own sinful nature emerge in excuses such as "comfort zones", which are nothing more than our desire to hold on to claims of our own self. The public question arises: why do Christians not seem to care if others perish to eternal damnation?
Hear the last word of Jesus recorded in the Gospel of Matthew: "And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age." Knowing that no one can do eternal harm to us can help us drop our guard, face others in confidence--not in ourselves, but in our Lord. We can pair up, going door to door to collect canned food for the local food pantry, revisiting the same houses once a month, getting the know the people who see cross hanging from our necks and prayerful blessings of thanksgiving to God for their love for others. Or go on a prayer canvass in the neighborhood of your church, simply collecting prayer requests, not pew-filling exhortations.
There is a lot of hurting "out there". That hurt can be eased by entrance into the kingdom of God, and one key of that kingdom is loving others with God's Word. As one pastor proclaimed: "They will not seek/They must be sought/They will not come/They must be brought/They will not learn/They must be taught". And always for Gloria Deo--Glory to God.