The Unmistakable Mandate – #6 in 7 Characteristics of a Perfect Church Series

dying man

It was a day like any other in Decatur, Georgia. That is, until an urgent knock on our apartment door brought me rushing to see who it was. Before I could greet my elderly neighbor, I knew something was very wrong.

My friend Ruth’s husband had been sick and didn’t seem to be getting any better. Her voice cracked with emotion. “It’s Virgil,” she said. “He’s worse and the ambulance is on its way. If you want to see him, you’d better come now.”

Without asking, I knew what she meant. Virgil was dying. What could I do? What could I say? More than likely, this would be the last time I saw him. I knew nothing about sharing Christ with a non-believer. So I did the only thing I knew to do. On the way to Ruth’s apartment, my heart cried out to God. “Lord, help me; I don’t know what to say.”

As I hurried into the bedroom, I could tell Virgil was alert but very weak. When I took his hand into mine, his eyes spoke volumes about fear and dying. The time was short and the need great. I had to help him find the peace he craved. But how?

I began to talk about God’s love and His gift of forgiveness of sins and eternal life. To this day, I don’t know specifically what I said. I remember stumbling over my words, grasping for the best way to explain the meaning of the cross.

When I realized Virgil was listening intently, I knew somehow God had made sense of my mess. So, when I asked if he would like to pray and ask Christ into his heart, he nodded. Again, I did the only thing I knew to do. I led him in a prayer somewhat like the one I had prayed not so long ago.

A short time later, Virgil died in the hospital. Over time, Ruth and I had numerous conversations about knowing Christ. That was many years ago, but it thrills my heart to know Ruth is in heaven with Virgil. No more suffering and no more pain. And a life of joy and peace with God. Forever.

sharing your faith

This experience taught me one thing for sure. I needed training on how to share with people how they could know God and experience His love. And then in 1968, my husband and I attended a Campus Crusade for Christ lay conference. Through teaching, training and practical application, we learned two concepts that changed our lives. *How to live the Spirit-filled life by faith and *How to share Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit and leave the results to God.

Since then, I’ve discovered there is no greater joy than to be able to usher someone into God’s kingdom. Sadly, many people are either fearful of doing so or ill-equipped for the task. I know I was.

This is why I’ve described what I believe to be the sixth characteristic of a (would be) perfect church. It is the responsibility of church leaders to train God’s people to witness for Christ as a way of life.

Why do you suppose most church goers are not consistently sharing Christ? I can think of at least four reasons that I’ve learned from experience. To refute these reasons, you may want to take the time to read the accompanying scriptures.

  1. We assume it is the job of the pastor and leaders of the church. (Ephesians 4:11-13)
  2. We don’t know how to share the good news of God’s love in a way that encourages the person to receive Christ. (Colossians 4:2-6)
  3. We are fearful of rejection. (I John 4:18)
  4. We are reticent because we believe people aren’t really interested. (Romans 10:14-15)

The truth is many people are hungry to know God. Blaise Pascal, physicist and philosopher said it well. “There is a God shaped vacuum in the heart of every man which cannot be filled by any created thing, but only by God, the Creator, made known through Jesus Christ.”

I Peter 3:14b-15 gives us the formula to help us become faithful witnesses.

  • “Do not be frightened.”
  • “But in  your hearts set apart Christ as Lord.”
  • “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.”
  • “But do this with gentleness and respect.”

Jesus has given the church an unmistakable mandate to make disciples in all the nations and to teach them to obey all God’s commands. (Matthew 28:18-20) The first step of discipleship is to help people know how to become a disciple/follower of Christ. The good news is God has also given us the Holy Spirit to empower us to tell people about Him everywhere. (Acts 1:8 NLT)

 

Let your faith be bigger than  your fears.

Why do you think we hesitate to share with people the greatest news we could ever give them?

woman on computer

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: