Monday, July 23, 2012

Sharing the Love of Christ

Imagine this:

You're watching TV. Your favorite show is a repeat but it's a really good episode you always enjoy re-watching. You're on the couch chatting with your loved ones about what is happening in the show and what's coming up next. Everything you enjoy about the show from drama to character development to how you secretly identify with the lead character is happening right now. You're having a very good time.

The first commercial break comes and an attractive actress who you haven't seen in a few years is sitting with a group of children who are obviously suffering from extreme malnutrition.  She's looking you in the eye and speaking just a little too quietly. Her smooth steady voice seems almost tired. You notice her hair is tied up and she looks just dirty enough to fit into the scene but not so dirty and messy that you don't recognize how naturally attractive she is. And it's an ugly scene. As you get past her different appearance and tone you start to take in the state of the children. As the seconds pass the commercial gets harder and harder to watch.

Just as you're about to try to escape by checking the weather channel or getting up for a snack, the music changes and she starts to sound inspired and you are presented with the solution to your growing discomfort. You can send in only $15 a month and not just turn the life of a child around, but impact and maybe save a whole village! For only $15 a month everything you saw in the commercial that filled you with fear and guilt can be fixed. For only $15 a month you don't have to feel guilty.

There's more however. For only $15 a month the problems you now know exist will all be fixed, so you don't have to worry about having to go and help.

OK, now Christians, remember these things:

It's a mid November Sunday and the Operation Christmas Child volunteer spokes person is giving a presentation about what a shoe box can do for a child over seas.

It's the first week of April, and your church is meeting to discuss potential Vacation Bible Study programs.

It's June 10th, and Sarah is going on a short term mission's trip to New York.

It's that one Sunday a few years ago when some guy whose name you can't remember visited your church to tell you about his prison ministries program.

It's a Friday at 8pm and you're on your way home from the store with munchies for a relaxing movie night after a long hard work week. You drive by your church and have a giggle at the clever play on words inviting people to come on by this Sunday.  Instead of taking the direct route home you avoid the  street with the late soup kitchen and hostile. It takes you only a few extra minutes to get home so you think it's worth it.

It's the Sunday after that Friday movie night and Joe is asking for money to help support that same soup kitchen. He says it is our duty as Christians to share the love of Christ with destitute people by feeding them. For only $15 a month you can actually feed a man and help him get back on his feet and back with his family. Your $15 a month won't just feed that man, it will turn his whole family around. You can reach this city for Christ, one family at a time, for only $15 a month.

There's more however! For only $15 a month you don't even need to drive down the street where these people are.

So what's the problem?

Romans 5:8
But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Romans 10:14-15

14 How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? 15 And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: 
“How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace,Who bring glad tidings of good things!”

1Cor 9:16 
16 For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for necessity is laid upon me; yes, woe is me if I do not preach the gospel!
Mark 16:14-16
14 Later He appeared to the eleven as they sat at the table; and He rebuked their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they did not believe those who had seen Him after He had risen. 15 And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. 16 He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.
1Cor 3:5-15
Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers through whom you believed, as the Lord gave to each one? I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase. Now he who plants and he who waters are one, and each one will receive his own reward according to his own labor. 
For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, you are God’s building. 10 According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it. 11 For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.  
12 Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, 13 each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. 14 If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. 15 If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.

1Cor 5:9-11
Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him. 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. 11 Knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are well known to God, and I also trust are well known in your consciences.
Each and every single one of us needs to be functionally, significantly, and personally invested and involved in the personal sharing of the GOSPEL of Jesus Christ. For the Gospel is how God demonstrates His love. For we will each stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ and be judged. Therefore since we know the terror of the Lord we must plead with men to be reconciled to God. We ought to support the preaching of the Gospel with our money, prayer and time. Yet, we are called to be personal instruments in the sharing of the Gospel.

Is there someone sharing the Gospel, personally and faithfully in your town or city? Go support them. Be with them. Learn from them. Pray with and for them. Pray for the people they witness to. Use your unique gifts to meaningfully assist the preaching of the Gospel.

It is absolutely clear that we can ease our conscience, and sense of duty, for only $15 a month. The problem is however that this is not how God told us to "share the love of Christ."

If you turn the other way and just send money to good or dubious ministries you'll never get your hands dirty. You'll never have to experience the sin of men that condemns them to Hell forever. You'll never have to be confronted to defend your faith.

However, you'll also never be used by God to convince a person to cry out to God for reconciliation. You'll never really see how the Scriptures are fully defensible. You'll never see how the Holy Spirit truly does fulfill His mission in this Dispensation. John 16:5-11

Do you want to take a different street or do you want to truly share the love of Christ? If you want to take a different street then perhaps you're just in this for the show, for the drama, for how you connect with the personality that is offering you a way out. Perhaps you don't really think sinners are going to hell. Perhaps the fact that Christ died for sinners isn't really all that important to you. Perhaps you don't know the terror of the Lord. Perhaps you don't love much because you don't think you've been forgiven of much.

Luke 7:47
47 Therefore I say to you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much. But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little.”

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