Part Six - God for the darkness
Read Luke 5: 17-26
The friends saw an opportunity. The people in the house saw a man lowered through a hole in the roof. I love what we’re told Jesus saw. Verse 20 says that Jesus “saw their faith.” Whose faith did Jesus see? The friends. He saw it through the fact that they were willing to do whatever it took to get their friend to Jesus. The Bible says, in Galatians 5:6(b), “The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.” That’s what Jesus saw. Faith, expressing itself through love. Because if you love someone, you’re going to do whatever it takes to get that person to Jesus. And that’s exactly what these friends did.
But what about you and me? Most of us would say we have faith. But can Jesus see it? The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love. And if you love someone, you’ll do whatever it takes to get that person to Jesus. Is that you? Does that describe your life?
It should, because if you’re a follower of Jesus, you’re a missionary. You befriend people who are far from God, in hopes that they might become friends with God.
Read Luke 5: 27-28
Can you imagine how much the tax collectors were despised? They were considered traitors. And it’s not just that they had betrayed their own people. It was worse because their people were God’s people. The Jewish people were the one’s who believed in and worshiped God. And so the tax collectors had not only betrayed their own people, they had betrayed God. They were the worst sinners in town.
And it’s Levi, a tax collector, who Jesus calls and asks to be one of His disciples. Can you even begin to imagine how shocking that was? Levi was probably the last person in that town the people would have expected Jesus to call, and the last person who deserved to follow Him. But Levi is exactly who Jesus called.
Read Luke 5: 29-32
What about you and me? Jesus was called a friend of sinners. Could that be said of you? Jesus said he didn’t come to hang out with the righteous, but to be with sinners so they might come to repentance. Could that be said of you? Levi was creative in getting his friends to meet Jesus? How hard have you tried to come up with the best possible ways to introduce your friends to Jesus?
If you’re a follower of Jesus, you’re a missionary. You befriend people who are far from God, in hopes that they might become friends with God. You do whatever it takes – even if what it takes is throwing a party that offends religious people. You do it with whomever you can – even if it’s the person who’s considered the worst sinner in town.
You’re a missionary. You neighborhood, the office you work in or school you attend – that’s your front line. The place where you play sports, or watch your kids play sports – that’s your front line. The store where you do your grocery shopping – that’s your front line. God put you there because the people there need Jesus.
And let me just say, if you’re reading this today but you’re not yet a follower of Jesus, maybe you don’t even believe in God at all – you need to know that God loves you and wants a relationship with you. And we love you and want you to experience that relationship with him. That’s why our church exists. That’s why we do what we do. So you’ll know that God is for you.
WATCH THE VIDEO
The team at Verve felt called by God to serve the kids who go to school on a road people call “Crack Alley” because it’s a neighborhood with so much brokenness. A neighbourhood in darkness that needed some light.
Where are you being called? Who is the person who is far from God that you’re being called to share Jesus with? Who is the person living in brokenness who you could serve? Where in our community is there darkness, and you could be God’s light there?
Let me give you a couple of helpful hints for people trying to live out this missionary life.
First helpful hint: The best way to do this is to lead with love. The best way to help your friends get close to God is to lead with love. So you build a relationship first. You do friend kind of things first. You find ways to serve them first. Before you try to share your faith or talk to them about Jesus. Why? Because after they’ve seen God’s love in you, they will be far more open to hearing what you have to say about God.
A second helpful hint: One of the most powerful ways you can help your friends to become friends with God is by inviting them to church. That’s kind of nice, isn’t it? That it’s not all on you. Our church wants to partner with you in introducing your friends to Jesus and hopefully helping them come to faith.
So after you’ve led with love, look for opportunities to invite them to come here to church with you.
And you need to, because you are a missionary. And God has put you in this mission field, on your front line. And you can do this. You and God together, YOU CAN TOTALLY DO THIS.
Simon’s bit – So that's the end of this series on ‘God for the rest of us’. It was a bit extreme and maybe a little difficult to relate to but the principles are sound and totally relevant. Upper Edge Baptist Church is a church for anyone and everyone. We have talked so much about our front lines and my challenge to you is what are you doing about it? It is not enough to turn up every Sunday and ‘have a nice time’ and that's it for the week. Our church exists to show everyone God’s love and let them know He wants to have a relationship with them. Read through the questions posed in the text above and answer them truthfully. If your answers fall short then ask God to help you improve.
Remember – God put you on your front line because people there need Jesus. God loves everyone and He wants them to know and love Him. WHAT'S STOPPING YOU??