While it's simple to notice a lack of quality teaching from most pulpits, it's also too easy to place blame on any particular pastor or leader in a local church when the fact is the entire Body must bare the guilt as well. Seriously, we (the people of Christ) are the Church. The Church is not a place or building; it is fluid and living according to the Bible. Every person in the Body of Christ is supposed to study the Scriptures to be able to rightly divide the Word of Truth (2Timothy 2:15). We are also to be able to give a reason for our faith at any time (1Peter 3:15) to anyone. Not only should pastors leading the congregations be able to explain the validity of God's word and the teachings within it, but every mature Christian should be able to do the same... which brings us back to Joe.
Joe has been surrounded by Christians in the church over the past 10 years. Many of those Christians I know personally, and several are considered leaders and mature Christians within that particular local church. I truly wonder why they would feel it was wise to not speak to Joe about God in order to help make him feel comfortable. I understand the concept of "relationship evangelism," but after 10 years, enough opportunity for relationship had been given. What was lacking greatly was the actual sharing of the Gospel message with Joe from those he considered his brothers in the Church.
The Holy Spirit inside a Christian is an enemy of the Spirit of the flesh inside a nonbeliever. The two are at war spiritually, and the conflict is felt in the physical plane. Most people are either repulsed or attracted to the Spirit of God after spending time in the presence of God's people. I'd never met anyone like Joe, who had spent 10 years around the family of God as a nonbeliever and came away believing he was part of the family. Obviously, the Church has failed Joe!
The Truth of Scripture was never been spoken clearly, because Joe had never been told Light has no fellowship with darkness. Joe cannot be in darkness retaining a hostile spirit of anti-Christ and think for a moment he is our brother, an equal heir in Christ. Why we would even allow him to do so is absurd! Unfortunately, Joe was deceived by the Church as a whole in a most grievous way. We allowed Joe to believe the delusion that another commonality in life was a foundation for fellowship with us and God. Each Sunday, we encouraged him to believe he was safe with God, welcomed to be one with us through our ideal social chit-cat and talk of subjects that had nothing to do with God. It was only natural Joe would think he had a "home church," even though Joe never was part of THE Church and never a member of the Body of Christ.
Joe's rational was logical. He should not be blamed for coming to his conclusions about the Church or his position in it. After all, we treated him as a brother, as an equal, and had no real relationship or deep conversation with him to understand his spiritual deprivation and need. We gave Joe the appearance of fellowship and the lingo of Jesus without ever truly knowing Joe or trying to help Joe grow in Christ. We expected if Joe was interested, he would save himself, feed himself milk from the Word, and grow up.... all without a mentor, without a guide to help him.
So the next time you greet someone at the church door, in the foyer, or are directed to greet your neighbor in the pew beside you, don't be satisfied to simply shake their hands or say hello. Ask yourself these questions:
The Church is called for more than silent witnesses to those on the Highway to Hell. We are called to boldly proclaim from every aspect of our lives the Love of God, the Truth of God's Word, and salvation from sin. Never be content to withhold the gospel, because you don't want to make someone uncomfortable. I guarantee you, there is no comfort in Hell!
While ultimately the decision of whether to reject God in Jesus rests squarely upon Joe's shoulders, the Church as a whole plays a big part in how Joe experiences God. The bible is clear... "How then can they call on Him (God) in whom they have not believed, and how can they believe in Him (God) whom they have not heard, and how will they hear without a preacher?" (Romans 10:14) I challenge Believers everywhere to understand that "preaching" is more than a Sunday sermon, falling solely on the shoulders of one man in a congregation. Preaching the Gospel includes your living example. It includes your discipleship of unbelievers into the family of God and mentoring of new Believers. It's your life: your actions as well as the words you speak from the Bible. We are the living love letters of God (2Cor 3:2) for Joe and the world to read as a witness. What's your letter really saying?
Wondering how to improve your witness?
Here's a good book to learning how to witness.
An Alaskan Author, Prospector, Homeschool Teacher, Ordained Minister,
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