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Hello everyone! What are some of your favorite things to do on Sabbath? I like to watch nature shows, listen to music, and read! :)

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Jesus spredding material?

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I am a youth looking forward to delivering God’s message to all the world about the second coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. I am asking for any spiritual material you can send me, and I will be very grateful if my request is accepted.


Steve Answers:


This is one of those questions that doesn’t need much searching in the Bible or reading about theology to come up with an answer. It’s a very practical question: Will you help me?
Why wouldn’t I help a young person who wants to share the news about the return of Jesus? After all, I’m a Seventh-day Adventist pastor! Why wouldn’t I send this youthful missionary spiritual materials? As I look on my bookshelf, I count more than 30 Bibles, and those are just inside my office (I have more, too). I just gave away to young people at the North American Division Youth Prayer Conference 3,000 copies of a book I wrote. But the question still remains: Will I help this person?
Actually, there are plenty of reasons to say no. First of all, I don’t even know this person. The name is an African name, and the letter is postmarked from Zambia. I’ve never heard of this person—I can’t even tell if this person is a male or female. Whoever it is wrote to Insight magazine probably because one of those old ladies at church collected the used or leftover materials and sent them to Africa. This stranger got my name and sent me a letter via Insight and is asking for a handout. What will happen if everyone who reads Insight starts asking me for free religious material? What if it never stops? Just think about that for a while!
Shipping material to Africa is expensive, and it takes a long time. There’s a good chance a package will never get to the person who requested it. I may as well just take the stuff to a garbage can and toss it in. There’s probably a higher probability that someone will get it out of the garbage can here than hoping somebody somewhere in Africa will ever receive it, right? Then I won’t be wasting good money on shipping that never gets things to their intended destination.
This stranger could be a crook. I’ve heard that sometimes people get free things like this and then sell the stuff for drugs or something. So if I send the stuff, I may actually be promoting a lifestyle that I don’t approve of. Wouldn’t that be horrible? And I would be responsible for it! No thank you!
And there’s always the matter of time. I’m a very busy guy. I have to carve out time to write this column for Insight magazine. Today I’m developing some presentations for a prayer conference on the other side of the country. I’m also working on my sermons for a youth rally next month. Tonight I’m leading a Bible study in my own home. I’m delivering a gift to a shut-in church member, I have a counseling appointment this afternoon, I have paperwork on my desk to clear up, and I still haven’t gotten to my e-mail or MySpace today. I’m way behind! I don’t have time to add something extra, like putting together some “spiritual materials” for a stranger, packaging them, taking them to the post office, filling out international forms, and paying for something when I get nothing in return.
These are just a few of the reasons why I shouldn’t even respond to this out-of-the-blue request. I actually have more reasons, too. I have more letters like this, two of them from people in prison who just want a Christian pen pal. Hey, if you or your youth group wants to follow up on any of these, just write to me (at Insight, like everyone else!). I get several of these each month!
Right now two stories of Jesus come to my mind. When Jesus comes “they [the wicked] will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and not help you?’ And he will answer, ‘I assure you, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.’ And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous will go into eternal life” (Matthew 25:44-46, NLT).*
Here’s an illustration Jesus told about His second coming: “A man prepared a great feast and sent out many invitations. When all was ready, he sent his servant around to notify the guests that it was time for them to come. But they all began making excuses. One said he had just bought a field and wanted to inspect it, so he asked to be excused. Another said he had just bought five pair of oxen and wanted to try them out. Another had just been married, so he said he couldn’t come. . . . So his master said. . . . “None of those I invited first will get even the smallest taste of what I had prepared for them” (Luke 14:16-24, NLT).
And the question remains: Will you help me?
I’d write more about this, but I think I need to get some things packaged up and head to the post office.
*Scripture quotations marked NLT are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.

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