By Mark D. Proctor
Pastor, Highland Park Baptist Church, Columbia
“What is it you want, Mary? What do you want? You want the moon? Just say the word and I’ll throw a lasso around it and pull it down.” Nothing can stop a man in love. That’s the message from George Bailey, played by Jimmy Stewart, in the Christmas classic, “It’s a Wonderful Life.” And it’s the powerful message of Paul writing to the church in Corinth in I Corinthians 9. “I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them” (I Corinthians 9:19). No matter what, I’ll do it!
How many of us would give up all our rights to see a Billy Graham Crusade-like response in our church services? How about to see just one come to Christ? Once again we find in the gospel a compelling message for those who truly love Christ, we give our all — even our very freedom — to others who need to know Christ. Why? Because of the gospel (v. 23). Because nothing can stop a man in love, in love with Christ.
Earlier we studied in the Olivet Discourse (Matthew 25) that Jesus taught his disciples there was no “riff-raff” in the kingdom of God. As we’re willing to feed, clothe, and visit the “least of these,” we’re willing to do unto Christ himself. We are all brother and sisters — children of the King. Paul demonstrates this teaching of Christ in his willingness to become a servant to everyone, even the least of these, in order that “some” (v. 22) might be saved. Paul, the “blue blood,” raised in the tradition of the Jews with the finest education was willing to give it all up and serve the Jews, those under the law, those without the law, and the weak.
Often in Scripture we encounter passages that demand we pause and make application. Are we willing to do what the Scripture teaches? Often we aren’t willing to admit our unwillingness so we hurry on to the next passage. Note here, though, that Paul calls that behavior among Christians, “running aimlessly” or boxing “like one beating the air” (v. 26). Imagine a runner with no strategy, a boxer with no target — just wasted effort, energy, and enthusiasm. But Paul says he’s not willing to do that. Are we? Note the word, “instead.” (v. 27) There’s a better way, a way with a prize (v. 24) at the end and a blessing in the middle (v. 23).
Oh, to have more men and women willing to say to God, “What do you want, God? Just say the word!” His answer resonates throughout Scripture — I want my children back. I’ve prepared a place for them. I want them home, in my Kingdom. And that Kingdom is bigger than just the earth or the moon. It’s larger than life, as wonderful as this life is. It’s a wonderful eternity and God is looking for men and women willing to give up all they have to inherit it!