As you know on Sunday mornings, I am preaching through the Book of Acts. My title for the overall series is: “Inside Out: How the Church Can Change the World.”
What I am learning in this series is that for us to effectively reach the world for the Gospel, it must begin with the local church. In our sermon last week in Acts 4:32 we talked about how the church “were of one heart and mind”. They may have had different customs, such as clothing and diet but that did not overshadow the Gospel. If we are God’s chosen people and know that He loves us, we in turn demonstrate our love for God by keeping His commandments. Part of our loving God is loving one another. The apostle John speaks a lot about this in his first epistle. In Chapter 4:7, 8 John says: “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.” What John is saying is that loving others is essential in our relationship with God. If I cannot love a member of Christ’s body, than how can I love anyone in the world?
It’s a shame if a secular organization would claim to have more unity than the church. What witness would we have to the community if we are beset by divisions and bickering? Our love for one another is not perfect but we do strive to do as Paul said in Romans 18 as far as it depends on you, live at peace with all men. The Corinthians had a very poor witness because of the divisions that hampered their worship. Jesus was talking to the disciples when He said in John 13:34-35: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this ALL WILL KNOW that you are my disciples, IF YOU HAVE LOVE FOR ONE ANOTHER.” (emphasis mine)
I am thankful that I do not know of any problem with which we are dealing in our church and I do believe that we strive to model the early church. We sing, we study, we break bread and we pray (we could do better here) and we love each other! Therefore, we have a united witness to present to our community. We want our friends and neighbors to see the love of Jesus Christ in us. We want to tell them of the joys of Christ. We want to invite them to worship with us and experience the love of God and the fellowship we enjoy in our corporate worship. I pray for greater boldness in my own life.
Let me say a word about friendship evangelism. It is great to get to know our unbelieving friends and show interest in them; however, there comes a point when we must verbally tell them about the Lord Jesus. We may simply invite them to church with us or to church events and pray for an opportunity to tell them about the Gospel.
As Iain Duguid says: “We are called to care deeply and passionately for our lost neighbors, to be personally devastated by the prospect that they may spend all eternity in hell. Compassion for their souls demands nothing less from us. The extent to which the lostness of the world around touches our hearts is the extent to which we will be motivated to bring our neighbors the good news of the Gospel—and to go on bringing it to them, even when they don’t want to hear it.”
I would hope that our study in Acts would excite all of us into learning not only about the church, the challenges of being a Christian in today’s world, but also the privilege of seeing others come to saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.
See you Sunday.