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So many gathered that there was no longer space, not even near the door. Jesus was speaking the word to them.  Some people arrived, and four of them were bringing to him a man who was paralyzed.  They couldn’t carry him through the crowd, so they tore off part of the roof above where Jesus was. When they had made an opening, they lowered the mat on which the paralyzed man was lying.  When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Child, your sins are forgiven!”—Mark 2:2-5 (CEB)


I suspect I’d seen this before, but I don’t remember it.  I don’t recall anyone preaching on it—maybe I just missed it.  But there’s an amazing phrase in this story, “When Jesus saw THEIR faith.”—Mark 2:5 (CEB)


Outreach is a team sport. 


Someone coming to Christ may depend not just on that person’s faith, but mine as well. 


When you think about this story it does make sense that someone besides the paralytic had to have faith that Jesus would come through.  Even if this poor paralytic really believed that this Jesus, who had turned his town upside down in Mark chapter 1, would save him, how was a paralytic supposed to get to the “healing service”?  He had to convince at least a few friends to go along with his belief.  First century paralytics didn’t have means.  He couldn’t have paid for the trip.  It’s not like he even had pizza and beer to offer his buddies as payments for the ride.  His friends had to believe too.


Outreach is a team sport.


It took four people to carry the man to Jesus, and it appears that there were more than four in the group. 


“Some men came, bringing to him a paralyzed man, carried by four of them.”—Mark 4:3 (NIV)


So who came up with the idea of cutting a hole in the building?    Someone in the group had to play the strategic role.  Someone had to have the tenacious, never-give-up ideation function that said, “Hey, how about we think outside the box—literally—and make the box bigger?”  Without that creative friend, the paralytic might never have walked.   I bet ripping a hole in a roof takes not only creativity, but faith as well.  Someone had to believe enough to offer such a seemingly outrageous solution.


Outreach is a team sport.


I wonder how many of them climbed up on the roof to start dismantling it?  Somebody had to do the dirty work.  Removing a roof isn’t an easy task, and it probably isn’t a one-person job either.


Outreach is a team sport.


And if it took four guys to carry the man, how many had to be involved in lifting the paralytic up on the roof?   There probably needed to be as many people on the roof to grab the mat with the man on it as there were on the ground to lift the mat up.


Outreach is a team sport.


And who was involved in lowering the man through the roof into the gathering with Jesus?   That would have been even trickier.  They didn’t want to spoil all the hard work by actually dropping the ball, I mean paralytic, in the final phase.  There had to be a group of strong, careful men to finish this task.  And these folks had to believe that God was up to something.


Outreach is a team sport. 


So who am I believing for?  Who am I willing to jump in there and grab an end of the mat and start the trek toward Jesus with?  Maybe my friend turning to Jesus doesn’t just depend on his or her faith, maybe my faith has to be part of it too.


And what am I willing to do?  The paralytic’s friends decided they weren’t going to let anything stop them from bringing their friend to Jesus.  The job might be heavy, it might be messy, it might look impossible and it might take strength and skill.  But they all did it, they all played a role, and I willing?


Finally, who am I reaching out with?   Can you imagine the after-party the paralytic and his entourage held.  The now-healed and now-forgiven friend was probably toasting his friends.  But more than that I’m sure he was praising Jesus, and they all must have been brainstorming and strategizing about who they would bring to Jesus next and how they’d accomplish the mission.


That is really what the church is supposed to be, right?  A team reaching out together--each one playing a role, with the real hero being Jesus and the mission clear:  bringing people to him.


And that’s what a network is supposed to be too.  We all work together, creatively, tenaciously, skillfully, and diligently with the mission of getting people closer to Jesus and watching him change their lives. 


Outreach is a team sport.