At the age of nine, I vividly recall mom’s dependency on welfare. She sold our couches, fans and lamps to the landlord in lieu of rent when times were extra lean. Eventually, after one lamp offer too many, the landlord declined, suggesting instead Mom attend his church in exchange for one month of free rent.
This sacrificial gesture changed the course of our lives forever.
It didn’t take long to realize aliens had abducted Mom … at least that’s what my young mind imagined when her random curse words disappeared and the smile across her face wasn’t from something she had ingested. With this new indescribable zeal for life, I knew that whatever changed Mom, I needed it too.
That’s Jesus. And that’s what the Great Commission is all about; stepping out of our comfort zone and inviting others to experience Christ.
The Demise of Society
The question is: How well are we doing our job? According to Dr. Thom Rainer’s book The Unchurched Next Door, he said, “Only 2% of church-going people invite someone to church each year.”
This statistic makes me wonder how many Christians are really open about their beliefs. We watch society omit God from school functions, the government and the traditions of Christmas. Key leaders of our country refrain from reciting “under God” during the pledge and the words “by their Creator” when quoting the Declaration of Independence. We even tune in each evening as Hollywood portrays us as fanatics who do more harm than good. I believe these subtle exclusions and poor representations are slowly muffling our voice–at least for 98% of us, that is.
Persecuted throughout history, Christians led a pilgrimage to America to begin a new way of living, where people were free to worship God. Our constitution was founded on faith in Christ–and the sole reason we are a blessed nation. As we remove God’s influence, the ethics and values of our system will continue their downward spiral. These strategic steps, however, are no coincidence. Jesus told us the world would hate us because of Him. With us inching closer to a Christ-rejecting nation, have we been driven to the point where we are too uncomfortable to mention God?
I’ll be honest, there are times I’ve been cautious when speaking about my faith. Even if I feel an internal prompting from the Spirit as I’m listening to a girlfriend share her struggles in life. I’ve thought, “I should pray right now for her,” but I suppress the feeling. For fear of being judged, I sit quiet, nodding–heartbroken for my friend because I know there is a better way. I’ve experienced the peace only Christ offers, but in this semi-hostile society towards Christianity, I allow myself to freeze up.
The Great Commission
Christ’s last instruction was for us to go and make disciples (Matthew 28:19,20). Go. He didn’t say hide and hold the glory which has been revealed to you. Or, be ashamed of your salvation now that you have the golden ticket. He said, “Hey, when you go to little Timmy’s baseball game, tell the mom with the downcast eyes about me. When you are at the farmer’s market, share how I have blessed you are , or the next time you see your elderly neighbor, stop and talk with them. Daily we are presented with opportunities.”
We have the hope the world needs to hear. Paul asked, “How can they hear about Him unless someone tells them?” (Romans 10:14b). When we talk about Jesus Christ, He draws people to Him…not us. We each have a gift. Some plant. Some water. Some teach. But, thankfully, God is the closer.
But first, we have to go and tell them.
How Do I Witness?
The power behind anything we do is found in prayer. In Luke 24:49, Jesus promised to provide dynamic power when we act as His witnesses. So when that paralyzing thought arises and we’re afraid to speak, we should follow Jeremiah 33:3 where God said, “Call to me (pray) and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.”
That’s the secret; asking God for the words to say. He has tools to guide us. There is no peace for the unsaved (Isaiah 48:22). There is temporary happiness from a purchase, a drink, a date, but eventually loneliness slips back in. What’s sad to imagine is that for Christians, this earthly life is the worst we will encounter; for the non-believer, this life is the best they’ll experience. All the more reason we need to pray for their salvation every time they enter our mind.
Isaiah 48:17b (NLT) says, “I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is good for you and leads you along the paths you should follow.” God directs us to that same somber waitress, distraught gym member or sarcastic coach. He orchestrates those intimate moments to share when we pray and act as an available vessel.
2. Study the Bible
His Word will light our path, which way we should go, what we should say. We simply have to invest time reading. He promises His Word will not return void, it will produce fruit and achieve His purpose (Isaiah 55:11).
In Pastor Jon Courson’s Application Commentary, he wrote, “The gospel pricks the conscience, grabs the mind, warms the heart and sanctifies the life. The gospel makes perverted men pure, drunken men sober, crooked men straight. The gospel is powerful because it is not good advice. It’s good News.”
Likewise, if God’s Word is not in our heart, and not in our mind, it can’t be on our tongue. When we are prepared, God promised, “I’ve put my words in your mouth and hidden you safely in my hand” (Isaiah 51:16 NLT). What an awesome comfort!
3. Be Available
If we take ourselves out of the equation and say, “Lord, use me,” I believe He patiently waits for us to tap into His power. Then we’ll hear the Holy Spirit whisper, “Hey…let me take over from here.” In our weak moments, He will be strong.
Our life is not about our comforts or discomforts, but who He places around us, giving us opportunities to share and grow spiritually. Why are we battling debt, divorce, disease? Because others will see Christ in us while we suffer; they know we pray, they see us model this behavior. We break down those negative stereotypes and open up a door when they see how “(We) can do everything through Christ, who gives (us) strength” (Philippians 4:13 NLT).
God accomplishes His mission when we set convenience aside. The question becomes, will we surrender to those internal nudges and invest time in our elderly neighbor, friend battling cancer or relative dependent on welfare? Society can sensor God out all they want to, but they can’t censor the light we shine.
Nonetheless, if we spend our free time in front of the TV, entangled on the internet or engrossed in work, we can’t be available. That’s the sacrifice He is seeking.
4. Extend the Invitation
Whether we ask nonbelievers to church, a fellowship group, Christmas pageant, or a group outing with another believer God has given the gift for evangelism, we all play a part in inviting people to Christ. Mom’s landlord didn’t do anything risky. He simply showed compassion and invited a hurting single parent who was tired of taking in everything this world had offered. When her thirst was quenched by living water, our family tree was changed for eternity. The church acts as the spiritual hospital lost souls visit, allowing the Great Physician to heal.
Need a little more confidence to reach out? Statistics show 82% of the non-churched said they are somewhat likely to attend if asked (Dr. Thom Rainer, The Unchurched Next Door). Knowing these facts, we have an important ministry opportunity if we just invite friends and family to the church we call home.
The jokes about Christians will worsen, portrayals across the big screen will continue to defile God’s name and as much as we dislike the direction our country is heading by deleting God out our pledge, government and the traditions of Christmas, one thing is for sure: His plan is going to be fulfilled.
The question becomes, will we conform to the Great Omission, or fulfill The Great Commission?
Oh. I almost forgot. Mr. Landlord, wherever you are…thanks.