A Method to Reach the Lost
“Through the heartfelt mercies of our God, God’s Sunrise will break in upon us, shining on those in the darkness, those sitting in the shadow of death, then showing us the way one foot at a time, down the path of peace” (Luke 1:78–79 The Message).
Look around your class. Which students are sitting in darkness? Who sits in the shadow of death? Not that you want that news to travel. Can you imagine how parents would react if their kids had to learn in dimly lit classrooms. And they would never send their children if they heard this “shadow of death” talk!
Whether your role involves the Lutheran school classroom, confirmation classes, Sunday school, VBS, or other educational ministries, you’re likely to have the lost right in plain sight. How do you go about reaching them with the Gospel? And can you do it without neglecting the young believers who continue to need Christian nurture?
Jesus, of course, provides a bright shining example. He rarely had the luxury of teaching and ministering to believers alone. Oh, sure, He taught His disciples, but they often were, uh …, shall we say a little dim? It’s probably safe to conclude that Jesus’ mix of students was similar to what we find in Christian classrooms today.
Jesus’ method was, well, methodical. He used His stories and miracles to lead students in steps toward conversion and understanding. If you remember how Jesus dealt with the Pharisees who pestered and baited Him about His real identity (John 10), you can see how His answers gradually led the onlookers and those with fragile faith along the path to recognizing the Gospel Light!
Your role, empowered by the Holy Spirit, is to reach both disciples and the lost. Today’s Bible passage speaks to you. Okay, so you’re not the subject of the original writing, but to paraphrase verses 76–79 of Luke 1, we might say this:
And you, my child, teacher sent by God, will go ahead of Jesus to prepare His way. Tell students what Jesus did for them, how He took away their sins. Through God’s judgment and mercy, Jesus will come again. His love and sacrifice already shines on those who don’t know Him, those who will go to hell. Show them Jesus. Be patient but persistent. Lead them gently down the path of peace with God.
Teaching religion is the greatest privilege in pedagogy. Teaching religion involves words and deeds. It involves your heart and your head. Like John the Baptist, you are preparing the way for Jesus. You don’t want anyone still living in the shadow of death when He comes again.
Adapted from a 2006 devotion by the author.