For many months in 2000 this country was absorbed with the story of Elian Gonzalez. A citizen of Cuba, the young boy was taken by his mother as she tried to escape Cuba for the United States. When his mother died, Elian was placed by U.S. officials with relatives in Miami. Our Supreme Court finally ruled that the boy had to be returned to his father in Cuba. There are many spiritual parallels to this story.
Elian’s mother sacrificed her life so that her son could have freedom, as Christ did for us. There was a legal and governmental struggle over him as there is a great cosmic, spiritual war for you and me and our souls. The issue of whether he should live in freedom in this country or be returned to live in a land of bondage under communism created a conflict. Thank God that His plan for us, and freedom through His Son is eternally triumphant. You never need worry that there will be another claim on your soul if you have been purchased from spiritual slavery by Jesus Christ.
A major issue was whether the claim of Elian’s father would prevail. In our day, parental authority and even parental rights in raising, teaching and disciplining their children are very much in view.
However, there was another issue that grabbed at my heart. All of this conflict raged over one six year old boy. In some cases international and national crises and scandals took second billing to the story of one boy. Perhaps, without realizing it, world governments and news organizations revealed what God intended to be a built-in priority for the human soul. That priority is the deep down understanding that human beings and their freedom are more important than virtually anything else.
Evangelical and Bible believing Christians have been saying it for centuries. “People are the priority”. People are a priority for God, so much so that He sent His Son to seek and to save that which was lost, namely us. People are, therefore, to be a priority for us. Individuals, and their spiritual freedom, are to be a passion of our hearts and a focus of our ministry. If our planning and our programming are not aimed at setting people free, they are off target. If our resources are not being spent toward setting people free, we are being irresponsible and unfaithful toward God.
I challenge you, before reading the rest of this article, think through, one by one, the various ministries of this church which you know, and evaluate whether each of them has the goal and possibility of reaching and ministering to people……….
Now that you are reading again, did you think of anything we are doing as a church that is not centered on reaching and caring for people in some way? Perhaps the church should consider whether we need to continue that thing.
If the secular news and the world political community can get so agitated and passionate about one little boy and not even recognize the principle behind their passion, surely we, who know the mandate of the Great Commission and the focus of the Great Commandment, can get our priorities right. People matter to God and they should matter to us, regardless of their race, gender or nationality.
Stewart B. Simms, Jr.