No Man (or Woman) is an Island (Sea Change part 5)

The Hebrides are a group of islands off the north coast of Scotland. The name has nothing to do with “Hebrew”, though you never know. Really, it’s Celtic in origin, from Norse too.

The Old Testament mentions “the isles” many times. It’s referring to Cyprus and the other Mediterranean islands. Symbolically it could mean any group of people who may not have heard the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This is why Jesus gave the great commission: “Go ye into all the world…” (Mark 16:15). This is our responsibility. This is why we have mission trips and missionaries and seminaries. Let’s refocus, however, and think about the stateside mission field for a moment.

One common misconception I often encounter says that people are unapproachable. If I look at someone who seems aloof and focused on something else, then I’m likely to judge them along those lines. What I must be careful of, however, is that my judgment is not “my own insight” as it says in Proverbs (3:5-6). I have thoughts and perceptions and observations just like everybody. And as it says in Hebrews (5:14) my “senses are exercised to discern good and evil”. At least, this is my mission statement. But this doesn’t mean that I’m infallible or perfect in my outlook. Far from it. The moment I “think [I] know any thing” (1 Corinthians 8:2) and don’t “acknowledge God in all my ways” (Proverbs 3:6) is when I’m in pride and left high and dry. Kind of like an island in the sea, hmm? I need God’s “grace and glory” (Psalm 84:11) to interact with people whom the world may have written off as a lost cause, but are inwardly crying out for God knows what. “For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him?” (1 Corinthians 2:11). The Holy Spirit, too, knows what’s on a person’s heart and mind. And even if you’re not the one who leads someone to Jesus, you will have done your part in helping the Holy Spirit. Do for them whatever he puts on your heart. At least pray for them and lift them up to God. Help to shore up their insecurities and inconsistencies by being kind, direct and genuine. Look in their eyes and touch them if need be. This will do more for someone’s eventual salvation than harshly hitting them over the head with a Gospel message bereft of love.

In closing, I will refer to a prophecy in Isaiah. It says that the “earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea” (11:9). There’s no reason (to my knowledge) that this prophecy can’t come to pass in our time. No more islands after that!

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