That’s how Jesus responded to the man He had freed from a host of evil spirits that had taken up residence inside him and held him captive in the cemetery. The grateful man wanted to go with Jesus immediately. He begged Jesus that he might do so. But Jesus wouldn’t permit him. Instead, He told him to return home to his own family and friends and share with them the great mercy of God and the great things God had done for him. (See Mark, chapter five.)
This story rebukes me. Having become a Christian when I was thirteen years old, I was inspired by the dream shared with me by preachers and other older Christians…the dream to do great things for God…to go on door-knocking campaigns and try to save lost people. I did plug in at church and participated in every program they had that was appropriate for me. BUT, I failed, almost completely in my first and most basic mission field…my own home.
Ask yourself where the former demoniac’s story would have had, at least potentially, the greatest impact. Would it have been among strangers who hadn’t known him before or among family and friends who could now see clearly the amazing change in him? And so, Jesus said, “Go home. Share your story. Live your new life in the presence of those who know you best. Give all the glory to God.”
The truth is that if we don’t live for Jesus in our own homes then whatever influence we hope to have for Jesus on others is lessened. The truth is that if we don’t treat our own family and friends as Jesus has treated us, we are missing the best preparation we could ever have to serve others. The truth is that every single Christian has a commission from Christ which is inspired by His life, teaching, suffering, dying and resurrection. And this commission is not complicated. We obsess on all kinds of mitigating factors…what if I am rejected by someone I try to reach…what if I don’t have all the answers to their questions…what if I just don’t know enough Bible, or if I say it wrong. When, all the while, Jesus simply asks of us to first take Him home with us. Live out the difference Jesus makes in a person’s life. Live it out before your family and friends. Those are the people who have loved you. They know you. They will be able to see the wonderful change in you. Neither they nor Christ expect sinless perfection of you. But they do expect you to be for real!
Maybe we need to begin in prayer, confessing to God our failure to show and tell His glory and grace to those closest to us in life. Maybe we then need to apologize to them. Maybe…just maybe…we need to go home to our families and friends and love, serve and show them the glory and grace Jesus offered us…and them also.