Happy Thanksgiving! I am sure that for you it is one of those crazy weeks of working half a week while preparing for the Thanksgiving celebration. I was reminded recently that Thanksgiving is, in many ways, like the Gospel in that we can make it as complicated or as simple as we choose. Let me share one way to make the Gospel simple this Thanksgiving season.
If you have been a follower of Jesus for any length of time, you will know that there are many approaches to sharing the life changing message of Jesus. I can think of my favorite Romans Road, but there are also others like the Four Spiritual Laws, the Bridge Illustration and many others. I believe that it is enormously profitable for a disciple to learn at least one of the methods. But I wonder how often we don’t share because of fear, or not knowing a method or not being able to answer Bible questions. This is where we make it complicated. I was reminded of Jesus instructions to a man who just had his life transformed through meeting Jesus!
So how does this relate to Thanksgiving. Let me explain. Reading in Mark’s Gospel, I was reminded of the wonderful story of Jesus healing a man that had been in bondage to demon’s known as Legion. This man’s life was a train wreck, to put it bluntly, and no one could help him. It was through an encounter with Jesus that his life was transformed. Any one who has come to know Christ can relate to this man and his desire to be with Jesus. The locals were in fear because of what happened as Jesus was about to leave the area. We read, “As he was getting into the boat, the man who had been possessed with demons begged him that he might be with him.” (Mark 5:18) I am positive that would have been my response also. But it is was what Jesus says next that we need to hear. “And he [Jesus] did not permit him but said to him, “Go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.”” (Mark 5:19)
Let that sink in for a moment. Jesus has a job for him to do. And all the preparation was to tell others how Jesus worked in his life. What is amazing about this approach to sharing Jesus is that we tell others what He has done in our lives. This is something that every follower of Jesus can do without any additional training. The word Gospel means “good news.” It is sharing a testimony of your situation before Jesus. It continues with how you came to be His follower. The follow-up is then what He has done in your life since. But it even gets simpler than that, by us sharing how Jesus has been working in us or on our behalf in a current situation. It could be as simple sharing an answered prayer. This is something each of us can do!
How does this relate to Thanksgiving. Well, it is common at the Thanksgiving meal or other gatherings to share something that you are thankful for in the last year. This is an excellent opportunity to give focus to that one that has changed your life!
-Pastor Joe Parkinson