If you were around in the 1970s, and even if you came much later, you've probably heard Billy Joel's famous song, Only The Good Die Young. A rebellious guy strings together some thoughts about how bad people have more fun...all in an attempt to get a good Catholic girl to sleep with him.
As he sings, "sooner or later it comes down to fate, I might as well be the one," it doesn't sound like a song with a lot of depth but then there's one part...
A few lines of the song are pretty insightful and we need to ask ourselves, "Is he right?" Do you know the part I'm referring to? I'll tell you in a minute...
The other night in Bible study we were looking at how the church of Philippi started. Paul was going around telling people the Good News and the people who listened weren't those you would probably ever believe would believe:
The Super Rich. Lydia had lots of money, prestige, and success. She had a nice home and servants. She was a businesswoman. Imagine Lady Gaga or Oprah.
The Very Troubled. When Paul is witnessing in Philippi, there's a girl following him around. A really annoying, loud, crazy girl. She's actually possessed.Think drug addicts and that one uncle of yours.
The Just Doing My Job-ers. Paul ends up getting thrown in jail - after the crazy girl incident. The jailer who is assigned to watch him has one job - keep the prisoner in prison. When there's an earthquake and the confines are broken, the jailer knows he's a dead man. He doesn't like his work or his employer. He just wants to do his job and go home. Think perpetually crabby co-workers or unpleasant public service people.
Isn't it true that we sometimes write people off from heaven? Even if it's subconsciously?
The line in Billy's song is, "You say your mother told you all that I could give you was a reputation. She never cared for me...But did she ever say a prayer for me?"
We quickly agree that children in third world countries should have loving people show them kindness and share the gospel with them. But what about your boss who just yelled at you? Your land-lord who swears and chain smokes? The girl you're pretty sure is huffing canned air in the storeroom at work? The sleazy guy who wants to date your daughter? Do we say a prayer for them?
Paul shared the gospel with each one of the people he encountered. Each one's life was changed. Saved.They were the beginnings of the church in Philippi. These were people that became a great church and people Paul came to love greatly.
So how did he share the gospel? It was different with each one - you can read about it in Acts 16 starting at verse 11. The true how is that he thought of others as more important than himself. He knew that he was good with God...forever, so his whole life was focused on others. He simply trusted God to put him in the right place, at the right time, and to give him the right words.
Make sure you aren't shutting the door to heaven for others. Pray for those who aren't like you, for those who offend you, and think of ways to reach them with the gospel. Then when the accusation comes, "Did you ever say a prayer for me?" you can say,"Absolutely!"