Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age" (Matthew 28:18-20).

Years ago, four loving young women from a Christian university uncovered a deep need. A local woman had no family and had a severe case of diabetes. She could barely see, she had lost most of her feet and was confined to a wheelchair, and had no family in the area. Seeing this need, they took turns coming and cleaning her house, visiting with her, and preparing meals for her. After two years, this woman died and the four young ladies went to their preacher to get him to do the service. In the course of their discussion, all of them realized that none of them had talked with this woman about her relationship with Jesus.

Over the years, this story has nudged me at different times. The not-so-gentle reminder it gives me is important. In the middle of doing many good things, we must not forget the main thing!

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him (John 3:16-17).

Over the last several years, we have seen a renewed passion to issues of social justice and living out God's Kingdom values today. I believe this is a crucial and important dimension of being faithful to the Lord. Jesus' presentation of the Good News of the Kingdom included proclamation as well as demonstrated compassion (Matthew 4:23). Others have reacted negatively to this emphasis and strongly asserted that we must not forget the call for people to repent and take up the morals and values of Jesus (Matthew 7:13-27).

For some reason, we don't seem to be able to emphasize both sides of Jesus' call to the Kingdom — God's character and God's compassion. However, the Lord called us to take up our cross daily and follow Him and He also taught and demonstrated to us our need to remember the poor and the broken (Luke 9:23; Luke 11:41-42). We must not neglect the Lord's social concern or relegate it to some secondary place in our life as His followers and we must not forget the importance of moral integrity.

However, in doing and emphasizing many noble things, we must not forget the main thing!

Jesus Christ ... is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world (1 John 2:2).

Years ago, I've been told, back before railroad crossings had automatic gates and blinking lights, some areas of track in the cities had a lantern man. When the train was coming, the lantern man was to get out of his little house and warn approaching traffic that a train was coming. On one awful night, a family was crossing the track and perished in the ensuing collision. In the investigation that followed, the lantern man was asked if he had left his house, stepped into the road, and waved his lanterns to warn the approaching vehicle. His answer was a clear, but sorrowful, "Yes."

"But they never asked me!"
However, guilt haunted him all his days and in visiting with a minister friend years later, he confessed the source of his guilt. "I answered the investigator correctly. I did leave my guardhouse. I did stand in the road. I did wave the lanterns. But they never asked me if I had ever lit my lanterns!"

As God's people, as followers of Jesus, we must not forget to light the lanterns. In the middle of doing many good things — living with character and compassion — we must not forget the main thing!

Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners — of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life (1 Timothy 1:15-16).

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