Included in this service is a message on the importance of sharing our faith, “Ambassadors”, from 2 Corinthians 5.11-21. The message starts at 22:50. Apologies for the in-and-out sounds; this will be diagnosed and fixed.
I am grateful that I have the opportunity, quite often, that I can walk to work. It’s a privilege not everybody receives. I don’t have to fight traffic, losing hours from family time just trying to get to and from work. Being able to walk to work enriches my life, both for the physical activity and for the enhancement of family life.
But it has another side benefit, too, that I experienced recently.
I was walking to work, taking my usual route, and a young neighbour, to whom I would wave when I’d see him, called me over to where he was sitting outside his front door.
Perceiving that I worked “at that church over there”, he proceeded to start a most interesting conversation about the life of faith. We chatted for perhaps 10 minutes about similarities and differences between denominations, and he seemed genuinely intrigued with my subtle presentation of the good news of Jesus.
I invited him to our “Bring A Friend” Sunday at St. Paul’s Church, Nobleton on September 22, and he gladly accepted; I will pray for him, and hope that he comes! (If you’re in the area and don’t have a church family to call your own, please come as my guest – that Sunday, or any Sunday at 10:00 a.m.!)
Even if you don’t have the opportunity to walk to work, you do have the opportunity to take walks through your neighbourhood. Consider whether the Lord is inviting you to do so – for exercise, yes, but also for sowing seeds of new relationships with important conversations that can lead to spiritual discussions…and possibly spiritual transformation.
“We should help others do what is right and build them up in the Lord” (Romans 15.2, NLT).
One of the delights of being on a pilgrimage that includes some people you don’t know is that you have the opportunity to get to know them while travelling. So one day, when someone I didn’t know was sitting across the aisle on the bus from me, I said, “Tell me a story.”
Among the things this young woman told me was how she got involved in the congregation in which she participates. Much to my delight, it was through the gentle influence of a mutual friend.
This friend would care for her children, and would invite the kids to sing Bible songs and learn Bible stories while in her care. And as time went on, and it seemed appropriate, she would make soft invitations – to church events, to fill Operation Christmas Child shoe boxes, to come to Christmas services, then Easter services, and then, well, she got involved whole-hog!
A whole family came to know Jesus because of the kind words and simple invitations of a Christian who cared.
Think of the gentle influence you may have…and think of the people over whom you might have it!
“…if someone asks about your hope as a believer, always be ready to explain it. But do this in a gentle and respectful way” (1 Peter 3.15b-16a, NLT).
Because we get most of our bills sent electronically, and not many people share handwritten correspondence anymore, except on special occasions, we find that we don’t need to retrieve our mail from the post office more than once or twice a week.
Lately, though, our mailbox has been fuller than usual. My wife is getting a lot of unsolicited mail – asking for money, of course – from unusual sources.
Yesterday, there was a letter for her from an organization, and when she got home, she looked at it and said, “Someone is selling their mailing list.”
This happens to everybody who has a fixed address, though perhaps less often than usual, because direct mail campaigns seem to be less effective than they once were.
It got me thinking, though. Because of privacy laws, fewer and fewer organizations are free to sell their mailing lists, but when they do, other groups will buy them because they hope, and maybe even expect, that they will recoup their investment through new donors. In other words, the cost involved in gaining more names will be exceeded by the results they will get from sending a campaign to those names.
When we share our faith, there is no money exchanged – I don’t think, anyway! – but there is a ‘return on investment’ side to it. For many of us, talking about our relationship with God has a cost: uncomfortabliity. Many of us find ourselves outside our comfort zones when we talk about Jesus with others. That’s why we don’t do it.
But consider the return on that investment: if we share our faith with others, and even one person says ‘yes’ to Jesus, what is gained from that act far exceeds the uncomfortability we may have had in sharing.
Think about that the next time you have the opportunity to open a door of faith for another person. What you’re feeling is nothing when compared with the changed eternity for that person who may come to the Lord as a result.
“So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us” (2 Corinthians 5.20, NLT).
If you walked by someone’s home and saw flames shooting up through the roof, what would be the first thing you’d do? You’d call 911, and pound on the door until you made sure that people inside knew about the fire and could get out safely.
If you’re a follower of Jesus and you meet someone who is not, what’s your normal reaction? Most people’s response would be to be polite and say nothing.
Theologian Michael Green said, many years ago, that too often, Christians are like people going through customs at the airport: nothing to declare.
You and I have something to declare – something of eternal importance.
If you’re a follower of Jesus who believes the Bible is true, then every person you know who is not a follower of Jesus is the equivalent of a house on fire. We have a responsibility to find creative ways to encourage them to follow Jesus, because eternity rests in the balance. We’ve got the best news in the world to share.
If you don’t tell them, how will they know?
“For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him. There is no judgment against anyone who believes in him. But anyone who does not believe in him has already been judged for not believing in God’s one and only Son” (John 3.16-18, NLT).
Recently, I received a bunch of papers from one of my favourite subscribers to Encouragement From The Word: my mother. Slowly but surely, she is starting to get rid of unnecessary things. She has a difficult time throwing them away, so she gives to me things that she thinks might be of interest, because she knows that when I’m done with them, I can throw them away.
This bunch of papers came from my grandmother; they were notes in her handwriting.
There were some that cited Bible verses, some were prayers, some were notions.
One of them was some advice from my grandmother on how to pray, particularly for me. (Apparently, at that time, I wasn’t the easiest person in the world to deal with.)
I will throw out those papers, but having read them, the memory, which takes up no room in a box, will stay with me. My grandmother’s legacy of faith remains in some of these little notes, simple means by which she could impart the wisdom of years of faith and faithfulness to my mother, and to me.
If you are a seasoned follower of Jesus, how are you leaving your legacy of faith? And if you are a newer believer, are you inviting wiser Christians to build into your life? Many don’t want to inflict themselves on you, but they are just waiting to be asked.
After all, faith is as much caught as it is taught. Whose faith are you catching?
“I remember your genuine faith, for you share the faith that first filled your grandmother Lois and your mother, Eunice. And I know that same faith continues strong in you” (2 Timothy 1.5, NLT).