There is this thing in soccer called "chances created." It's a statistic that tracks how many times a soccer player has created chances for plays. I heard about it yesterday at church because our pastor's favorite soccer player is known for his "chances created" statistic. And this matters because the friends of the paralyzed man in Matthew 9:1-8 were about creating chances. They knew that carrying their friend to the door of the home where Jesus was preaching was not enough. The crowd craned their necks from all windows and doorways to see and hear the teaching; there was no way to get their friend to the front where Jesus stood.
Oh, sure, they could have turned back and no one would have asked why. But they were about creating chances - they were determined to get their friend to the feet of Jesus because they thought something unbelievable could happen.
There was no guarantee, just a chance to witness something beautiful.
And that belief was big enough to motivate their deconstructing a roof and their Macgyvering a lowering system to interrupt Jesus' teaching with the presence of a disabled man.
The presence of Jesus was that important.
They created a chance for their paralyzed friend to meet Jesus because they believed it could change his life forever. Even just the chance was worth the sweat and trouble and questioning stares. Worth it.
Do I think getting uncomfortable and awkward and tired is worth the chances it creates for others to meet Jesus?
Sometimes I waste time weighing out my options. I wonder if the invitations will be received well and if the conversation will be offensive. I wonder about future conversations and wonder if I will keep or lose friendships. I wonder about looking silly and feeling ashamed. I wonder about how much the other person even wants a chance to meet Jesus.
But these guys, they were relentless. And when their paralyzed friend finally got lowered down with the Bible times version of duct tape and WD 40, Jesus surprised everyone.
He looked past the paralyzed man's obvious and most debilitating physical need. He looked past the years of struggle and got inside his heart... and what He saw needed forgiving. Whatever it was, we can all relate. We are all the paralyzed man, inside. We all need to get to the foot of Jesus so He can expose what is dark apart from any physical anxieties that knot us up on the outside.
So, this was the man's chance at the feet of Jesus - his chance to experience something that would transform everything else about his mat-constrained life. And then Jesus healed this paralyzed man of sin. He forgave him for all the darkness hiding out in his heart. That was the magic and that was the mystery - the play that happened as a result of the chance created.
After the crowd backlashed and questioned, Jesus also healed the man's physical body so that "you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” He is Lord over the spiritual and the physical. All of it, everything.
"There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry, Mine!” - Abraham Kuyper
This is why we are chance creators.
Because God is the best at unearned surprises - the eternal and physical, the now and future, the simple and complex kinds. He is the best at surprises and we must be about creating chances for friends and neighbors and strangers to sit at His feet.
We don't know what will happen, but it will never be bad. God will always be glorified and it will always be worth it.
Definitely love your local church, but if you want to be encouraged by mine, listen to this sermon from Sunday by Vito!