Posts Tagged ‘the lost’

Series on Witness

I’ve set three goals to challenge us this year. The first is to work at simplifying our lives from so much busyness, so that God and the church aren’t crowded out. The second is to work at our relationships so that we become a more loving, caring and connected community. The third is to be more outwardly focused as a congregation so that we move from being comfortable, to where we are willing to take risks to reach out; to move from a focus on what we get out of church, to a focus on what we can give to others as we reach out.

We are working at this third goal today as we begin a sermon series on witness, that will continue to challenge us along these lines for several weeks.

We have been talking in Sunday school about reaching out and I want to be clear about two things, First, each of us already have areas where we can share our faith, whether it’s family, job, school, social gathering places, our neighborhoods, and so forth. These are places that God has put us providentially, so that we can do his work. So when I encourage us to reach out I mean all of these.

Now, as a congregation, that is, as a whole, we are placed providentially in the South West Chambersburg area also to do God’s work. And so this is a part of our corporate outreach focus. And we have worked at this a lot recently with VBS, follow up visits with the kids that came to VBS, and with more interaction to come, as we brainstormed in Sunday school last Sunday. And also our block party just yesterday.

But my second point is that you can engage in ministry in SW Chambersburg in many different ways, according the gifts and callings God has given you. So no, not everyone will be knocking on doors. But you can pray for, encourage and support those who do. You can help out with events that are geared toward this ministry. You can pray for this area of town.You can be involved in other ministries connected to the people in this area.

So when I talk about witness don’t think I mean if you’re not doing door to door evangelism in SW Chambersburg you aren’t a witness. Not at all! I want to affirm and bless how God has opened all kinds of opportunities for you in various areas of your life to share – as you gather at a gun-shop wood carving group to talk, as you work in a restaurant, as you volunteer in your neighborhood. All of these are what we’re focusing on. All of these are open doors to share your life and faith with others.

If we ask, why do we share? One reason is certainly that we love the Lord and want to do what he says. Right? Jesus told us, “You will be my witnesses” – Acts 1:8. He said, “You are the light of the world” – Matthew 5:14. And he also said, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations” – Matthew 28:19. All of these are Jesus’ instructions to us, and we want to do what he says.

But what I would have you focus on this morning is this –

Our motivation for reaching out is Christ’s love for people  

This comes out in two key passages. The first is Matthew 9:35-38. Here we see how Jesus’ love for people was his motivation.

35And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction.” So Jesus is out sharing the gospel.

 36When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” Jesus did what he did because he loved the lost. He came, he shared, he ministered and more – because of love. He saw the lost as harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Jesus felt for them and cared about them. You can see Jesus’ heart here.

In this immediate context, his compassion leads him to do two things. First, he asked for pray for more workers. 37Then he said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; 38therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.’” He called on his disciples to pray earnestly for people to go out on his behalf to share his love.

And then second, he sent those very disciples out into the harvest. Mathew 10:5 – “these twelve Jesus sent out.” They became the instruments of his love to others.

The second passage is 2 Corinthians 5:14-15. Here we see how Christ’s love for the lost is not just the reason for Jesus’ sharing, it is the reason that we share.

 Paul says, 14For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; 15and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.”

In this passage Paul talks about Christ’s love for people – Christ “has died for all”; and he died “for their sake.” In love, he laid down his life for all. We also see what Christ wants for everyone – new life; that they would “no longer live for themselves” but live a new resurrection life as he does.

Paul goes on to say how this love of Christ affects him. He said, it “controls us.” That is, it directs his actions to be in accordance with this love; Christ’s love leads him to minister to others like Jesus did. This word can also be translated as “compels” in the sense of Christ’s love for others urges him on to minister to them, even Christ did.

The point here is that each one of us is to be like Paul. We are to be controlled by the love of Christ so that we share the gospel with all people.

Why do we share?

Jesus’ love was why he reached out. And Jesus’ love was the reason the 12 shared. And Jesus’ love was the reason Paul ministered. And Jesus’ love is the reason we are to share our faith. 

Like the 12, like Paul, we are to be Jesus’ hands and feet that minister his love to the lost. But to be his hands and feet, we must first have his heart.

How do you view the lost?

Where is your heart? What about the young person listening to loud, profane music? Do you see them through the eyes of the flesh – this person is annoying and rude so that you avoid or rebuke them in disgust? Or do you see them through the eyes of Jesus’ love – this person is helpless and harassed and needs Jesus?

What about the person who is swearing up a storm? Do you see them through the eyes of the flesh – this person is vulgar and should shut up? Or do you see them through the eyes of Jesus’ love – this person is like a sheep without a shepherd; they don’t know Jesus and so they need to be touched by the love of Jesus? Of course they are doing wrong, they aren’t following the Shepherd and he is what they need.

What about the popular person who seems to have everything going their way? Do you see them through the eyes of the flesh – this person would make fun of me, or I don’t like popular people? Or do you see them through the eyes of Jesus – this person needs Jesus too; it may look like things are good, but who knows what’s going in in their hearts?

It’s Christ’s love that changes our perspective. It’s Christ’s love that changes our hearts to look at people in a new way – as helpless and harassed and like sheep without a shepherd.

It’s Christ’s love that is to control us, not our own likes and dislikes. It’s Christ’s love that compels us to share with all people so that they might know Jesus and no longer live for themselves, but for him who died for them and was raised to new life for them.

William Higgins 

Read Full Post »