2021 July 25 “Reach Out!”

Ephesians 3:14-21   Christ will live in you as you open the door and invite him in. And I ask him that with both feet planted firmly on love, you’ll be able to take in with all followers of Jesus the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God.  God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us.

 

Message    ”Reach Out!”    Rev. James R. Renfrew
I’m titling my message “Reach Out”.  Maybe you are already feeling challenged by that title.  The message could be all about you reaching out to the people around you. Reaching out with Gospel love of Jesus. Yes, that would be a great message. And we all need to be challenged in just this way. I often feel like I miss many opportunities to reach out with that Gospel.  Why is it that I miss the opportunities?  How is it that you miss those opportunities?  If I was going to preach in that direction that’s what I would explore with you this morning. That we need to work harder to reach out to extend the Gospel in all directions  – east, west, north, south, up, down, ahead, behind, left, right, above, below, inside and outside.

If I was going to preach like that I could talk a lot about taking the Gospel outside, because that is where we are, outside of our four walls, on the church lawn, so that we can look more clearly in every direction to see opportunities for the Gospel.  Yes, there are a lot of directions we could look, 360 degrees, 90, 180, 270, 360.  360 different directions.  If I went with that kind of message I would probably leave you feeling overwhelmed.

But you can feel some relief because that’s not where I am taking this message today. Not overwhelming, I want to keep the Gospel simple today. Can I hear an “Amen!”

Reach Out! So I’m not going to talk about how you need to reach out.  I want to talk about who reached out to you.  Yes, you got it, not you needing to reach out more, but asking who reached out to you?  Whoever it was, it must have worked, because here you are.  You could be anywhere else right now, swimming in the pool, mowing the lawn, enjoying a picnic, hiking in the woods, but you’re here, and I think it’s because someone reached out to you, someone made an impression, someone opened your eyes, opened your mind.  And here you are.  It’s a miracle. In a world with so many stresses and distractions, here you are.  This is important.

Who was it?  Who was it that reached out to you so successfully?  Who went the distance, who climbed the heights, and who dug down deep to find someone like you?

I hope you are thinking of someone who reached out to you, not only reached out, but connected with your heart, your mind, your soul and your strength.  Who was it that not only reached out but also connected with you?  Parents, friends, brothers or sisters, acquaintances, co-workers, maybe even complete strangers.  I don’t know who it was, but you know. I don’t know who it was, but the proof is all around us that somebody did because here we are!  I don’t know how they did it – a story, a song, a smile – but I know that it worked because you are here.  If someone had not reached out, you would not be here.  If someone had not reached out, none of us would be here.   But here we are because someone reached out.

I know that some of you, most of you, maybe all of you, are already way ahead of me on this. You can probably name at least a few people who reached out to you, maybe dozens of people, but at the heart of the reaching out is Jesus.  Through them Jesus reached out to you. Maybe a long time ago, maybe 5 minutes ago, but whether the initial credit goes to parents or friends or someone else, the one behind it all is Jesus.

Jesus reached out to you.  It might have been yesterday, it might be right now today, and it might be tomorrow.  Maybe you’ve had a solid connection for a long time, maybe there’s only a brief touch right now, maybe it’s yet to happen, but when he reaches out to you the world changes.  That’s how powerful Jesus’ love is.  How do you know it when it happens?  When there’s more love than there was before, and less judgment, less anger, less hatred, less distrust, less sadness, and less fear.  I think that fear is our greatest limitation, so much of what we see and understand about the world is based on fear.  So, of course, Jesus takes that head-on with love.  And he’s got a lot to give.

Here’s a mystery, Jesus reaches out and now there’s more love in you.  But we don’t know how to measure it.  Yardstick, ruler, tape measure, scale, thermometer – you can try – but there’s no way to measure God’s love in you.  The only way we can tell is that you have a new story to tell about yourself.  At the heart of our church family is that we have so many stories to tell about the difference Jesus has made by reaching out to us.

Jesus reaches out in all directions, that’s how he found you.  I have to say that you probably weren’t easy to find. Sometimes we find deep places to hide, sometimes behind a tree, sometimes up a tree, sometimes we go far away, but Jesus know how to find us.  That’s Jesus in a simple phrase, he knows where to look … over there, behind that, down there and up there, even if we fly away.

These are the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love.  Can I hear an “Amen!”

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