During my television career I had the opportunity to pass on some of the things that I had learned “in the business” to a number of interns and young co-workers. This not only included knowledge about the weather and how the atmosphere behaves but also the ins and outs of presenting that information while standing before a blank green (sometimes blue) wall with a camera pointed at you and no written script. Believe it or not, speaking continuously, and coherently, for a period of 3 minutes is not all that easy to do.
I very fondly remember one such “newbie” who while practicing would constantly lose his train of thought after about a minute or so, get frustrated, and then stop speaking and walk out of the camera’s view. My immediate response would always be, “Get back out there!” Once you’re actually live on the air you just can’t stop and walk away, you have to keep on going, no matter how painful (embarrassing) you might think it can be. I am happy to report that the lad finally got it, and has gone on to a successful career in the television weather business. To this day he will tell me that the best advice that I ever gave him was to “Get back out there!”
On the evening of the first Easter 10 disciples of Jesus, Judas had taken his own life and Thomas was for some reason not present, were together in a locked room in the city of Jerusalem. They were cowering in fear that the Jewish religious leaders would come for them, and have them put to death just like their Master had been. Even with the reports from Peter and John, who had seen the inside of the empty tomb, and from Mary Magdalene who said to them “I have seen the Lord!” they couldn’t find it within themselves to believe that Jesus had been raised from the dead. Then the two Emmaus disciples arrived reiterating the cry of Mary; “We have seen the Lord!” Still, it was too hard to believe. Then Jesus himself appeared in the midst of them and said; “Peace be with you.” He repeated that same statement but the second time added, “As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” Then He breathed on them and said “Receive the Holy Spirit.” (John 20:22)
Jesus was sending his disciples on a mission, his mission, to continue the work of saving the world. He had done for us all that we could not do; live a perfect life according God’s Law, die the sacrificial death to satisfy the wrath of God against all sin and sinners and then rise again from death and the grave to justify, make us right, before God. The work of salvation was now complete in Christ Jesus, but the task of telling the world that the gift of God’s grace, eternal peace, contentment and joy in heaven through faith in that same Jesus, lie ahead. That was to be the job of his followers, those terrified disciples in that locked room in Jerusalem. That is also our job, the all too often terrified disciples of the 21st century.
We should know very well what is expected of us as Christians. Just as Jesus sent his first followers as his witnesses He is sending us as well. He has given us the same message that they had, that He lived for us, died for us, and rose again for us, so that we could be brought back into the family of God and made heirs to everything that God has in Christ Jesus. God has placed us all in strategic positions, amongst family members, friends, neighbors, co-workers and acquaintances. We all know people in those groups who need to hear the message, who are still living in sin and darkness, bound for the eternal punishment of hell, yes hell!
Have we been faithful to that calling? If you’re like me, and I think you are, you have to answer “No! At least not nearly enough.” But even when we fail that same mercy and grace extends to us, forgiving us for our shortcomings, our sin, and encouraging us to “Get back out there!” Try again, and again, and again. As we do the task becomes easier, it becomes part of who we are and what we do. Comfort zones expand with you when you step out of them. We have the words of eternal life, and those who need them are all around us. In this Easter season I encourage all of us to “Get back out there” and tell everyone what God has done, because the people that are around us are worth the effort. They too are God’s creation and his heart is for them to be saved.