Leading People Closer to Jesus
Imagine you are walking down the street and someone stops you and says they are a Louisville Cardinal fan and urges you to become one too. You are clearly a Kentucky Wildcat fan because of the 2012 National Championship t-shirt you are wearing. Would that not strike you as just a bit odd? Would their enthusiasm and sincerity in reminding you that Louisville is this year’s National Champion impress you? Is it likely that their wearing a t-shirt with the team logo on it would make you want to embrace that particular team as your own? Of course it wouldn’t. Most of us would quickly become annoyed by such behavior. But often times, this is how we try to witness for Christ. We are human billboards with our clothes and cars covered with cute sayings, pictures and slogans advertising how much we love Jesus. Jesus tells us in Acts 1:8 that “we will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere.” If left to our own power, we could not share the love of Jesus in a way that people would understand. The power of the Holy Spirit shares the love of Jesus through us. We are simply the tool the Spirit uses. Leading people closer to Jesus involves a daily life of obedience to Him and is not defined by bumper stickers, Gospel tracts, or pestering people. Through our obedience and loving people as Jesus did, the Holy Spirit will work through us and bring those who are lost, closer to Him.
Even if you don’t know a lot about stars, you can probably look into the sky on a clear night and find the Big Dipper. Regardless of how or where it is positioned, there is a curved handle on one end and three stars aligned on the other end. It’s like that night after night, year after year, century after century. Moving at speeds and distances we can only imagine, the Big Dipper stays together—completely out of our control, completely under God’s control. Even when clouds keep us from seeing it, we know it’s there. So often in life, worship is our natural, almost reflexive response. We see mountain peaks, brilliant sunsets, ocean waves. We feel gentle breezes and touch the face of a newborn baby. We hear voices lifted in praise when the church gathers together on a Sunday morning. Worship. What else can you do? Love God. What else makes sense? Jesus gave us simple directions: “’Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence.’ This is the most important, the first on any list.” Matthew 22:37 (MSG) Love God. This morning we’ll express our love of God as a united body of believers. As we continue through our week, let’s remember the words of Jesus and love God passionately, prayerfully, and intelligently.
There is an image from the great outdoors, a legend of the woods, a symbol of the wild. You see it stated on the back windows of pickup trucks and bumper stickers on all sorts of vehicles. It even shows up on shirts or jackets, especially those worn by young men. This image is captured in a simple phrase – “the lone wolf”. Our young hero is bold, brave, and taking on the world by himself. Here’s the interesting thing – wolves aren’t loners. In fact, they are very social animals, living in packs with well developed and sophisticated community structures. As cold as it may sound, lone wolves usually don’t survive for very long. When cut out of their pack, they begin a quest to find another pack or another wolf to begin a new pack. They need each other. We can survive as a “lone wolf”, but likely not very well. And we’ll miss out on learning and growing with others. We simply do better in a circle of others than we do in sitting in rows that allow for us to hide, playing the role of the “lone wolf.” Jesus said that the second greatest commandment was “love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:39). Love others, join with others, and connect with others. A great place to eliminate that “lone” image and burden is in a Life Group. At First Christian Church, we believe in the value of Life Groups as a way to grow, learn and improve your witness of Christ to a lost and dying world. For more information on our Life Groups, go to fccetown.com/adults.php or contact Doug Mitchell at 765-4994 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Social activist and author Shane Claiborne had the opportunity to work ten weeks alongside Mother Teresa in Calcutta, India. During his time with Mother Teresa he often noticed that her feet were knobby, gnarled, deformed and pressed in the wrong direction. Shane wondered if the condition was a result of an accident, a disease or illness. One day, he finally asked one of the sisters at the mission about the good mother’s feet. The sister explained that every once in a while they would receive a donation of shoes to pass out to the needy. When a load of shoes would come in, Mother Teresa would dig through the pile and select the worst pair for herself regardless of whether they fit her feet or not. Over time, the condition of her feet deteriorated from wearing these substandard shoes that didn’t fit her. She crippled herself out of love and compassion for others who had nothing. Jesus tells us in Mark 10:45, “For the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” God doesn’t call us to maim ourselves for others. But he does call us to have genuine concern and love for other people. We are to share the resources (time, money, talents, etc.) that God has given us with those in need. The Bible tells us in Acts 2 that the members of the early church “gave to anyone as he had need.” Let us strive to be individuals and a church that willingly and lovingly serves others in this world.