April 26, 2023
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Our ministry was being honored with a gracious award from a Christian foundation, and it was named in honor of a visionary pastor in a major American city. Before his death some years ago, he'd been a powerful spiritual force in that city. But he didn't start out as a pastor. First, he was known and loved as a news anchorman for a major network station. On the night that changed his life forever, he went to cover a gang shooting. He reported at the spot where the killing had taken place. The chalk outline of the victim on the street was still behind him. He interviewed a gang member from the neighborhood and he asked him, "Have you ever thought about living another way; getting out of this cycle of violence?" It was this young man's answer that rocked him: "How can you think about another way to live when you've never seen another way to live?" It was a question that ultimately caused that anchorman to change the whole direction of his life.
I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Hope With Skin On."
I wonder how many people are living the way they are because they've never seen another way to live. Everyone they know is living the same way, so how could they think about another way?
That's where you come in if you belong to Jesus Christ. He put you where you are to be a living alternative; a flesh-and-blood demonstration of another way to treat people, another way to handle stress, a way to be happy without having scars and regrets. Our word for today from the Word of God explains how important you are (or you could be) to people you work with, or play with, or live near. Philippians 2:15 - "Become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe, as you hold out the word of life."
For centuries, men have charted their course through the darkness by the light of the stars. The stars have shown them the way to go. Well, you're God's guiding star for some people in your personal world. Our children all went to public school in an area where they were often the only Jesus-follower in their class. But we didn't send them to school every day playing defense, just trying to "survive." We wanted them to understand that God wanted them playing offense - aggressively showing others a different way to be.
It started when our daughter came home from an early grade talking about all the bad things the kids at school said and did. That's when I began to give our kids two send-off words every day as they left for school, "Go mad!" Now hold on! That meant "Go Make a Difference!" I told our kids that in a class where everyone lies, you need to show them that not "everyone" does, because you always tell the truth. In a class where everyone talks dirty, show them not "everyone" does because you keep it clean. Show them someone who thinks sex is too special to ruin, that your body's too important to trash, and that other people are too important to cut down. In a world where it's "all about me," you live as if it's all about them. If you become like the people around you, the light goes out and then everyone really is living in total darkness.
So don't let the darkness around you dim your light; don't let it extinguish your light. They may try to put it out sometimes or they may attack you because you're not like them, but believe me, they desperately need for you to be different. Because you're the only Jesus they can see; you're their only hope of another way to live.
And either your life is a reason to come to Jesus or a reason to reject Him. Don't condemn them - love them. Show them the better life you can live with Jesus in your heart. Without you, they can't see any hope of a better way. But you are their hope with skin on!