Good News or Big Secret
I am attempting to clean things up and streamline the paper in my house. Yes, I am attempting to go digital, (God be with me on this.) Part of this process is typing my sermon notes and putting them into Evernote or the diary portion of Jorte, still working out the kinks. It is amazing how much paper I have accumulated in this last year. So the process begins.
The great thing about this little (ok not so little) project of mine is that I am reviewing my notes. Some of them make no sense whatsoever. (obviously those are not much use to me) Most of them I have labeled so I can refer back to the sermon title or date on LiveStream. I came across a few notes from one of our Aspire Youth Services. The title of the sermon was Foreign Fields.
Missionary or the Mission Field
This was a series where Pastor Jon introduced the idea you are either the missionary or the mission field. He also mentioned a quote that I tried to track down. It appears the quote came from an interview with Penn, an atheist, of Penn and Teller Fame. This is the quote, “How much do you have to hate somebody to believe everlasting life is possible and not tell them that?” (Find the article here.)
For some, witnessing and evangelism is like breathing. Sometimes the air may be a little thin making them uncomfortable, but it is like breathing so they do it almost involuntarily. However, that is not most of us. Most of us are awkward, nervous and timid to witness to others. I think it is because we have this picture in our heads of aggressively winning people to Christ or we think we have to be Billy Graham to make an impact.
Witnessing is as easy as being tuned into the Holy Spirit. When you get the urge in your gut to comfort someone or stand up for your beliefs…LISTEN. (Because you are human, you are going to miss some of the nudges…so listen close) I talk about church all the time. I have realized that I sometimes am witnessing just through my faith, my excitement about the fellowship in my church, and my actions. There it is folks. Actions speak louder than words. A gentleman from my childhood used to say, “I can’t hear a word you are saying but I can read your life like a book.” Our actions toward others, our actions in our daily lives are going to make a significant impact on people. If I cuss out my co-worker for a slight and then try to invite them to church and share my testimony…they are going to see a big fat phony. On the other hand, if they see me living out my convictions and faith, they are going to more receptive to both my invitation and my testimony.
Another point in this particular message was “What do you want to be remembered for?”. Truthfully, this is an answer still under development in my case. I want to be known as someone people can depend on. I want to be remembered for having a heart for people and a willingness to serve others. I believe I am well on my way. Most of all I want people to know I love God.
When my Granny Wheeler went to heaven, she was remembered in such tenderness. She was not successful by worldly standards. She lived on a fixed income, in a public housing development and never drove in her life. It was common to walk in her little apartment and find her in her recliner or at the kitchen table with her bible open, usually with some southern gospel playing on her radio. God and her faith were a regular part of her life. It was evident in her conversation, her actions and how she treated others. I want my family and friends to remember me the way I remember my Granny.
Greatest Story, Biggest Secret – the Message is Love
The greatest story ever told will not be a secret if we live our faith. All we have to do is TELL people about God and what he has done for us. No seriously, we are called to share the Gospel…not drag people against their will to the nearest altar. This realization took a lot of pressure off me. I am responsible to take the Good News into the world. Just like I had to decide to accept it, so does the next person. I may only plant a seed. That seed may not grow for years. I may never see the fruit of that seed till I get to heaven.
So if you are like I was and terrified of witnessing to others, remember to just tell your story. (I can tell a story.) We have all sinned. We all found God because we were loved by God and someone pointed the way. It may have been an evangelist, a church Pastor or a praying family; but someone pointed you in the right direction.
Today, I read some pretty aggressive comments on Facebook. Christians were being declared bigots who bully and hurt others because we state that homosexuality is wrong. We believe in the Bible as Christians. The Bible lists many, many things as sins. (Including adultery and lust for heterosexuals as well.) That being said, I am not okay with mistreating people for any reason. I have a handful of people in my life who identify as part of the LGBT community and I care very much about them. I value them and the contributions they have made in my life. I love them. As to their sin, as identified by the Bible, that is between them and God. I can discuss the scripture with them and share my testimony. I do not have to degrade people to practice my faith. (Trust me it is practice, I have no where near perfected this.)
A great deal is said about tolerance in our society. Tolerance is the “ability or willingness to tolerate something, in particular the existence of opinions or behavior that one does not necessarily agree with.” I could write for days, weeks, possibly months about the things I do not agree with. I could treat people disparagingly based on those things I disagree with; whether based on faith or personal opinion. I am fine with expressing my beliefs, convictions and opinions. (I have a blog, obviously I have lots of opinions.) I am not fine with being cruel. God is love. Love is patient, kind, not self-seeking, proud, it does not dishonor others or delight in evil. I can address the evil/sin without being callous. I believe too often we speak our mind in lieu of letting God stir our heart so we can speak HIS heart.
I am not writing this to slam or correct anyone. Trust me, I have plenty of areas I need to work on. Asking for forgiveness is still something I must do and often. Seeing God’s love reflected in others is what pulled me to return to church and rededicate my life. In our efforts to reach those in sin, let us not make ourselves stumbling blocks. When sharing your faith…make sure God’s love is shining though before you ever open your mouth.
Tell the Greatest Story, just don’t forget that the message is LOVE!