This weekend our church was privileged to host Dr. John Piper in our services. As you would expect, he had some profoundly biblical things to say during the course of his message. Shoot, I’ll be he says profoundly biblical things when he orders off of McDonald’s Dollar Menu. That’s the way John Piper rolls.
But there was one statement that he made within the first five minutes of his sermon that I never really got past. As a matter of fact, it’s the only thing I wrote down in my notes during an entire 30 minute message.
Piper was talking about the Summit’s mission to plant 1,000 churches in 40 years. He was encouraging, challenging, and in a way, fatherly as he joined that vision and pushed it forward. But it was this statement that stuck:
The places that need you the most are the places that do not want you there.
He was referring, of course, to cities and countries in America and around the globe who are hostile towards the gospel. We know those cities. We have church planters in some of those cities. And some of those planters have experienced real persecution because of their calling to carry light into dark places.
But before we believe that this is just a phenomenon for church planters, let’s remember that this holds true in our everyday American lives as well. Every single day, we face people and places that need the gospel, but do not want the gospel. Every day, Jesus calls us to carry light into dark places. Every day, we have to walk boldly into uncomfortable relationships so people can know the only relationship that matters.
That roommate who is hostile towards your beliefs and makes fun of you for going to church? She doesn’t want the gospel, but she needs the gospel.
The coworker who declares himself an atheist and challenges every conversation you’ve ever initiated? He needs you to press on.
The neighbor who has turned down dozens of your invitations to come to church? They need you to ask again.
The professor who takes every opportunity to belittle matters of faith and argue against the teachings of Jesus? He needs you to pray for him, not against him.
The people who need you the most are the people who do not want you there. But time is short. The mission is critical. And the challenge starts today.