Friday, April 7, 2023

Hitchhikers, Floggings, and Captive Audiences

Suggested Reading: Matthew 10:11-20

When I was in college and living the single life, I noticed a pattern whenever I would make the three hour drive from college to my parents's house. Quite regularly, I would see someone on the side of the road who was asking for a ride. So I would stop, figure out where they were headed, get the best feel I could for how much danger I would be in, and give them a ride down the road. I discovered that these times gave me an excellent opportunity to share the Gospel with people. For one, they were something of a captive audience because they needed a ride and I had a car. But they were also willing to listen to what I had to say because they needed a ride and I had stopped for them.

Speaking about very different circumstances, Jesus told his disciples of some opportunities they would have to share the Gospel. But beware! For you will be handed over to the courts and will be flogged with whips in the synagogues. You will stand trial before governors and kings because you are my followers. But this will be your opportunity to tell the rulers and other unbelievers about me (Matthew 10:17-18, NLT).  In these circumstances, Jesus was telling his disciples that their trials and beatings would be opportunities to share the Gospel.

In both sets of circumstances, the Gospel would find fertile soil, and for much the same reason: people wanted to listen to what you said. In my case, people wanted to listen because I met a need they had. In the example Jesus gave, people wanted to listen in order to investigate charges and mete out justice. But in both cases, people would listen and ponder the Gospel as it was presented to them.

Hopefully, you won't have to go to jail, but you will experience circumstances where people, for one reason or another, will be very interested in what you have to say. Watch for those opportunities when people are willing to listen. Create those opportunities by giving people reason to listen to you. And, whatever your circumstances, remember that God will reach out to people through you if you allow God to do so. Don't let those moments when people are receptive to you slip away.

Whenever people are listening to you or watching you, use the opportunity to point them toward Jesus. Who knows? That hitchhiker or judge may be ready to hear exactly what you have to say

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