Our Gospel this week is Mark 1:29-39, taken today from the New International Version (NIV).
As soon as they left the synagogue, they went with James and John to the home of Simon and Andrew. Simon’s mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they immediately told Jesus about her. So he went to her, took her hand and helped her up. The fever left her and she began to wait on them. That evening after sunset the people brought to Jesus all the sick and demon-possessed. The whole town gathered at the door, and Jesus healed many who had various diseases. He also drove out many demons, but he would not let the demons speak because they knew who he was. Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. Simon and his companions went to look for him, and when they found him, they exclaimed: “Everyone is looking for you!” Jesus replied, “Let us go somewhere else—to the nearby villages—so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.” So he traveled throughout Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and driving out demons.
In this passage Jesus begins His ministry around the countryside, preaching and healing and driving out demons. It is a much different pattern and connection than people were used to from their faith leaders. In that society people were required to come to the temple or synagogue to engage in religious activities.
Do we fall into this thinking, that we can only meet God and lead others to know Him in the confines of our churches? We usually try to invite people to whom we minister to attend services with us, which is part of our call, but we need to make sure that getting them in the door doesn’t outweigh getting them to know the Lord. Jesus teaches that it is necessary for those who accept God’s call to go to others to share the Good News. God meets them wherever they are, whether they ever see the inside of a church.
Don’t get me wrong, being in the fellowship of the body of Christ is vitally important, but it’s how we build faith, not always how it begins. Our work is out in the mission field of the whole world as well as in the comfortable confines of our places of worship.
Gracious God, thank You for the gifts You give to enable us to reach others in Your name. Help us to find those outside our churches who need Your love and go to them as Jesus did. Amen.