I recently heard a podcast from Southland Christian Church by John Weece. It was a sermon on evangelism. This message was refreshingly different from many others I have heard over the years. Many such sermons are focused on how church members “have to” get out there and start inviting their friends to church. They “must” make every effort to convert their family and friends.
This sermon was different. This below isn’t the outline of message, but reflects the concepts of it.
1. Jesus doesn’t expect us to change the world single handedly.
While Jesus taught large crowds his main emphasis was on teaching 12 men how they love God and serve others. For most of us leading 12 people to Christ in a lifetime would be great. Too often we preachers make it seem like you in the pew are failing if you don’t win one a month or more. Let’s get real.
2. We have to have a message to tell
Too often those in the pew haven’t experienced a true life change. They are Christian, but not a disciple. They have not committed to really having Jesus set new standards for their lifestyle. Therefore, there is really no message to tell.
3. Making disciples happens in relationship.
The Tuesday night calling night may have brought a few into the church, but those who are truly won over to naming Jesus as their Lord are won as disciples make friends and live the “Jesus life” with and around them. This becomes an irresistible pull toward Jesus.
4. We don’t see people as projects or prospects – they are friends.
This is where evangelism moves away from something we have to do to something we get to do. Jesus saw those he met as potential friends whom he willingly ate and celebrated with. They weren’t notches on the gun to tallied up.
Do you have a message? Do you see those around you as potential friends to introduce to Jesus through our lifestyle?
Make a friend, be a friend, lead a friend to Christ.
All of us have asked that question from time to time. Andy Stanley notes that the only life worthwhile is the life that is given away. He especially notes that this is true in area of discipling others. We must give our life (experiences and gifts) away for the benefit if we are to make impact that goes beyond our own death.
Some objects that are raised:
1. My life is mess. Doesn’t matter. One of greatest lessons I learned in my own ministry came in midst of one of biggest screw ups. What lessons can you pass on? What warnings can you give to those you mentor?
2. I am insignificant. If God was willing to send his son for you – you are significant! Beyond this Sunday school answer remember that no matter who you are there are those you influence. You can either give value to those in your world or give grief. That choice is yours.
3. I have no gifts. If you are a disciple (watch – Sunday school answer coming) you have the gift of salvation and God’s own Spirit in your life. That means you have something to share. Once you start looking for ways to share your life you will be surprised at how God moves to “gift” you further.
In that same message Stanley notes that each person’s life is a treasure. A treasure to be shared or buried. Remember the parable of the talents? …….
Luke 18:9-14 records a brief, and seemingly fairly straight forward, parable told by Jesus.
A Pharisee comes to pray and is very quick to tell God how good he is and how much unlike the “sinner” he is.
A “sinner” (tax collector) comes to pray and with face down he beats his chest and makes no claims but simply asks for “mercy”.
And in that word we have the key. Most times in scripture when we see mercy it means have pity — compassion on me.
Original Word: ἔλεος, ους, τό
In this text it is a different word that it used. The word “mercy” or “have mercy” — be “merciful” is from a word meaning atonement — paying the price:
Original Word: ἱλάσκομαι
properly, to extend propitiation, showing mercy by satisfying (literally, propitiating) the wrath of God on sin; “to conciliate, appease, propitiate
So what is the point? Forget what we know about Pharisees and consider that this man was an honest, upright, family man who was faithful to his wife. The Sinner was a traitor and one who lived a drunken and partying lifestyle on the back of the taxpayers.
The Pharisee we would elect as an Elder in our church — the Sinner would be lucky to get through the door without being eyed suspiciously.
We come to God in prayer trying to impress God with our morality and all we have done.
God is looking for us to come recognizing that like the Sinner we have nothing to offer but a plea for complete mercy — for reconciliation — for salvation — for Jesus.
A radio ad in our area starts off with this somewhat curious piece of advice. Upon reflection there is some definite validity to the advice – since a three legged horse would most likely be at a disadvantage in just about any race.
The life of the disciple cannot stand unless each of the key elements is part of fabric of each day in the disciple’s life.
1. Piety: The state or quality of being pious, especially:a. Religious devotion and reverence to God. Piety is a recognition that God is over all. In the words of Christ — Love the Lord your God with all your heart…this is the greatest commandment. The disciple must learn that devotion to God means the answer will be “yes” — no matter what the command. Seek first the kingdom of God. Thy kingdom come, they will be done. Piety – loving devotion the Our Father in heaven whose name is Hallowed.
But piety — a loving devotion to God is not enough. If we are to obey we must know what God desires
2. Study: Delving into the word of God to discover what principles are found within its covers. Committing to our hearts and minds the law of God and the stories of God’s promise and faithfulness. It is vital that the teachings of Christ become so central to the disciple’s life that they are second nature. When Jesus called the disciples and said “follow me” it is a call to not merely wander about the hills of Galilee will Jesus, but to duplicate the very character of Christ in the disciple’s own life. This occurs as the Holy Spirit works through God’s Word in the life of the disciple.
But one who has all knowledge without any outlet is destined to frustration. Inspiration without Expression leads to Depression.
3. Action: Sometimes labeled as service — this where the disciple’s love for God and the willingness to obey the truths found in scripture finds an outlet. Jesus told us that the greatest command was to love the Lord — but He also linked with it the command to love your neighbor. This requires action on the part of the disciple. Piously sitting in church and reciting the words of the Holy text are still all but useless without the act of being the hands, feet, arms, and love of Christ in a tangible way.
Maybe betting of a horse named tripod isn’t such a bad bet — if the horse is the balanced life of a disciple who loves God, loves God’s Word, and loves the world they live in. It’s a good bet.
Yesterday was one of those days. You know the type. Long and tiring. Off to work early where the day was hectic and demanding. Came home and made a ministry coaching call that was very emotional and mentally challenging. Then worked on a project that was very intense as well as being completely outside my comfort zone and skill set. Going on 12 hours straight at this point it was time to go over to my daughter’s house to help hang curtain rods and art work in a remodeled bedroom.
Both physically and mentally done in — I dropped onto the couch with my feet up on the ottoman waiting for my wife to finish gathering her stuff to leave. From across the room the six year old grandson smiled and with a twinkle in his eye came running over to jump into my lap as he smothered me in what passes for a bear hug coming from one so small. For almost a full minute we hugged — no words — just sharing the closeness of each other.
As I began the day today I began to wonder if what I felt during that hug is anything like what God feels when we remember to stop and simply praise Him in gratitude for nothing more than His presence. After a long day of holding the universe together and answering countless prayers — after hours spent watching over the poor, the helpless, and the fatherless — after spending His time caring for several billion people (not all of whom really get it or appreciate it) — does God desire nothing more that to see us smile and run to Him with gratitude. Does He feel His heart swell with love on the rare occasions when we come to Him wanting nothing more than feel His presence and His arms around us? Does He take pleasure in returning the hug loving the fact we love Him?
I think He does. Maybe we should stop and enjoy Him more often?