Posted by: mikenicholsblog | February 24, 2016

the value of a soul

Airline encounters have often been interesting experiences for me. Now my journey is a pattern of one discount airline after another. Life on a discount has brought me a little humor, caused some frustration, and saved me a few dollars. Today’s flight is telling me a lot about the value placed on services. Consider this brief breakdown of my charges for a flight (non-stop) from Tampa to Cleveland …. The ticket was $34.06 (yay!) for my flight. However, when you throw in my exit row seat (long legs) at $28, and my carry-on (small) $45, it seems the value of my comfort and stuff has out priced my soul. Obviously, my “disgust” is a bit tongue-in-cheek, but reality tells us that it is easy to place greater value on our comfort and stuff, than on the souls of mankind.

To keep going with the airline theme, let me share a great experience from over 30 years ago on an evening flight with my wife. Upon arriving at the gate, I noticed an elderly lady who had flown on a flight with us the year before! I was concerned that it wasn’t a coincidence, and decided that I needed to share Christ with her. Amazingly enough she sat in the row behind us, with an empty seat next to her. I slipped back to her, shared the gospel and she accepted Christ! That was a rare occurrence, but one I will never forget. I am often dismayed that my youthful boldness has drifted to and elder temperance.

That truth revealed itself a few weeks ago in teaching on the calling of one of the apostles. My Bible reading in Mark chapter two this week referenced the event. Levi, the son of Alphaeus, the tax collector, was called by Jesus. You probably know him better as Matthew. What happened after the calling is what challenged me anew. Look at the words from Mark 2:15-17 as Jesus reclined at the table.

 And as he reclined at table in his house, many tax collectors and sinners were reclining with Jesus and his disciples, for there were many who followed him.  And the scribes of the Pharisees, when they saw that he was eating with sinners and tax collectors, said to his disciples, “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?”  And when Jesus heard it, he said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”

My youthful enthusiasm relates well to the lesson in love noted in the above passage. My elder temperance seems to equate well with my laughable airline illustration of undervaluing souls. You see, I love people, but spend most of my discretionary time with Christ-followers. Jesus came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. Shouldn’t I intentionally model spending time with those yet outside the family of faith, as an ambassador of the Savior? You and I both know the answer.

While teaching the lesson on Matthew, I thought about some great neighbors who my wife and I have become friendly with, but never really engaged. I choose now to believe that we should, and we have decided to extend the friendship. Isn’t that what Christ would want us to do?  Our relationship needs to be natural, and God will lead us as we explore it.

In some ways it is easier to speak with a stranger at 30,000 feet than a friend from the neighborhood.  However, both are important. The value of a soul is worth stepping out … even as I get older!

Today as you step outside … look around and engage. Souls are at stake!

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