Beach Reach 2015
If Jesus were in Panama City Beach over Spring Break, how might he spend his time?
In Jerusalem, looking over an unbelieving city, he wept (Luke 19:41).
He saw the crowds, he had compassion (Matthew 9:35-37).
Jesus didn't just feel stuff, he did stuff.
With Zaccheaus, a notorious sinner who lived large at the expense of others, Jesus joined his party (Luke 19:1-10).
Same with Matthew when he invited Jesus over for dinner (Matthew 9:9-13).
Jesus embodied the ancient words of the prophet Isaiah - his personal mission statement:
18 The Spirit of the Lord the Eternal One is on Me.
Why? Because the Eternal designated Me
to be His representative to the poor, to preach good news to them.
He sent Me to tell those who are held captive that they can now be set free,
and to tell the blind that they can now see.
He sent Me to liberate those held down by oppression.
19 In short, the Spirit is upon Me to proclaim that now is the time;
this is the jubilee season of the Eternal One’s grace.
(Luke 4:18-19, The Voice)
Jesus was the embodiment of this good news and shared this good news. We won't find him going around very much, just embodying. We also won't find him going around very much, just sharing.
Maybe if Jesus were in Panama City Beach, he'd give out pancakes to feed the multitudes. After all, you can't put maple syrup on fishes and loaves.
Maybe in Panama City Beach, he wouldn't just pout over the fact that college students are getting smashed, but instead he'd offer a free shuttle service to keep these drunk college students safe, and at the same time invite them to know what He's come to do: to bring life, the life that they're looking for.
He might even go to the bars with Spring Breakers. Jesus’ first recorded miracle has him turning a lot of water into wine for one epic wedding celebration. They're probably still talking about it somewhere in Galilee (John 4)!
We didn't go to the bars with the Spring Breakers, but we and 450 other Beach Reachers served over 4,600 plates of pancakes. We gave nearly 7,000 free shuttle rides. We had hundreds of conversations, and we saw nearly 30 people seek Jesus for the life that He offers. Also, as we prayed for God to work, we saw His activity right in front of our faces.
In fact, within the past month, our church has had someone who met us in Panama City Beach join us on Sunday, multiple times!
If you didn't go to Beach Reach this year, I don't mean to rub this in, but you missed out. Here's what you missed:
- a chance to be stretched way outside your comfort zone, and see God's faithfulness
- a chance for your heart to be sensitized to the things that burden God's heart
- a chance to see LIFE come out of DEATH
- a chance to be brave
- a chance to eat Whataburger twice
- a chance to sit on the beach while the rest of your family and friends suffer through another cold Minnesota March
- a chance to encounter Jesus, in surprising - but when you think about it, not very surprising - places.
I didn't come for the healthy, but for the sick (Mark 2:17).
Mother Teresa is quoted as saying, "The poor, the outcast, and the dying are Jesus in disguise." I would add "the drunk Spring Breaker" to her list.
What she meant was simply this: when we serve others without selfish incentive - without asking, "What's in it for us?" - we are, in a very real sense, serving Jesus. You can glean this straight out of Matthew 25.
When we serve others without selfish incentive - without asking "what's in it for us?" - we are, in a very real sense, serving Jesus.
Beach Reach is like a softball, lobbed in the air, with us standing at home plate. This pitch is the easiest pitch you'll ever get a chance to hit and Jesus is simply saying, "Here's a chance to serve Me."
Here's to the people within our community brave enough to swing at the pitch this year! And here's to the people within our community who will step up to home plate next year and give it a swing!