Luke 16:19-21, “There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table.”
One of the classes that i found interesting in college was statistics. i enjoyed the math, and at the time it was more interesting and understandable than calculus. The use and application was an important part of the class. The second deviation, SD2, of the curve includes 95% of the statistical “population.” i realize that this may sound rather foreign, so please bear with me as i look to apply this idea to sharing the Gospel.
If our statistical area of emphasis is time spent over the course of a year, i would like to suggest that, as we look to share the Gospel, we should look to opportunities that occur during 95% of our time (SD2), not opportunities that are rare (< 5% of the time)(SD3-4).
In the parable of the rich man, Lazarus lay at the rich man’s gate every day, in the 95% of the time. The everyday is, well, ordinary, easy to overlook, to ignore. It is easy to miss the opportunities to encourage, build-up, share Gospel nuggets when they are in the first two standard deviations of our time. To make matters worse, we are often focused on the opportunities that are in the 3rd and 4th SD. These opportunities often seem far more exciting: like mission trips and vacation Bible school opportunities. (i am not implying these opportunities are unimportant, merely that they fall into the 5%, and often distract us from the work we have during the 95%.) Our co-workers, peers, and family all fall into the 95% (SD1-2). They are the ones that God has placed us around for the majority of our time, and it is on this population God wants us to have the greatest impact (95% of our impact).
We need to be taught to have our eyes wide open to the opportunities that are at our doorstep so as not to miss the most obvious window to share a Gospel filled message. (It might just be “hello” with a smile.) I would like to call these opportunities in SD1&2 as being part of the Lazarus curve. We should chase Gospel sharing moments in the Lazarus curve. Moments in the “everyday,” in the 95%, in SD1-2, and not be distracted by the moments outside of the Lazarus curve. This is a point of emphasis in my teaching. I do not want the students missing the student in the locker next to them due to the distraction of an event that happens once in a blue moon. In fact 68% (SD1) of our time: teaching, learning, and practicing sharing the Gospel should be focused on family and our closest circle of friends. 27% (SD2) should be spent on the next circle: co-workers, extended family, and neighbors. Topics of how to relate the Gospel should also be considered under the Lazarus curve as well in order to maximize success. What are the topics that come up the most often (SD1-2) that are the most helpful in sharing the Gospel? Too often our emphasis is in SD3-4 discussing “how to save children in Darfur.” Not that that is unimportant. It is just not practical to our every day living in our immediate time and place – Acts 17:26. i realize this approach may be unique, but it does help us prioritize and evaluate the idea of how we can be the most effective in sharing the Gospel every day. Our Lutheran schools are concerned with this kind of Kingdom growth. We are putting the Lazarus curve into practice.
Join the movement!
Come Lord Jesus, Amen!
Paul Steinhaus, Principal