Tuesday, December 15, 2009

What kind of witness are we?

Good morning my friends.

I do not know if you have noticed recently but the places in which we live are becoming more and more like mission fields. Now I write this living on an actual mission field where over 90% of the population does not know Jesus and thus have never accepted Jesus. That number is growing in your town and city as well. No longer do we have to go out to find the mission field; it has found us. So what are we doing about it because being part of the reconciliation of man to God is the reason we have been left here?

Witnessing for Jesus Christ is not the easiest thing for many people but part of the reason is because we do not find that our actions match our words. When they do match it is much more effective and a lot easier to share with people why we are always joyful and possess such an inexplicable peace. How we live, the way we treat people, what kind of words we speak all testify to what kind of relationship we have with Jesus. Imagine if it could be said of us what Paul said about the Thessalonians:

The Lord's message rang out from you not only in Macedonia and Achaia—your faith in God has become known everywhere. (1 Thessalonians 1:8)

Would we not love to have that said of us, that by the way we live the Lord's message rings out from us? Of course we would. So often people are won over by our actions long before they are convinced by words. The words must still be spoken because the Scriptures tell us:

Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ. (Romans 10:17)

But people "hear" our actions long before they hear our words. This is why the Thessalonian's testimony was so effective and they learned this from the ones who modeled it for them:

For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not simply with words, but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction. You know how we lived among you for your sake. You became imitators of us and of the Lord; in spite of severe suffering, you welcomed the message with the joy given by the Holy Spirit. (1 Thessalonians 1:4-6)

"You know how we lived among you for your sake," writes Paul. "You became imitators of us and of the Lord." They had a good example to follow and they followed it, living their witness as modeled by Jesus Christ and his followers. So they became models to the people of Macedonia and Achia and beyond. So what is our problems?

Our problem is that we do not understand our mission and our purpose. For us salvation is a personal and private matter. Salvation has become about an individual and his God. We have turned it into a self-centered and selfish relationship where we just want to feel good and be tickled by the Spirit once a week. So because salvation is a selfish thing for us we have not allowed the transformation to happen. Our life is still centered on us. All the things that exist in the world also exist in the Church. Sin prevails and our witness is weakened. We have failed to recognize that we have been saved for more then the sake of us. We have been saved for the sake of everyone else; that our actions and words would match so that hundreds of other lost people would come to accept the Light of God. The very act of our salvation has transformed us from a pleasure seeker to a self-denying servant. We serve our Lord by obeying his Word which is to go and make disciples. I want to put the emphasis on the word "go".

We are foolish to think that we can sit in our congregations and in our homes, doing whatever makes us feel good, and the Lord will simply bring people in. Salvation is a market place thing. We have to go out into the field and take part in the harvest. There are millions of people who have been prepared to hear the message of Jesus. The effort is not found in convincing people; the effort is in the shear numbers of people who are waiting to hear. However, the workers of the Lord are far from ordinary people. They are a people who imitate the actions and the heart of Jesus Christ. This is important to understand because those who have been prepared want to see the gospel in action in us and they want to hear the words that will bring them life. The Spirit has already prepared them but they need to see it modeled by us. Jesus needs people who will be obedient to his command to go, to be his witnesses, to share the good news and to live the life he saved us to live. The question is, are we his people and are we willing to live the life he called us to live as his messengers in a dying world? That world is knocking at our door.

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