Always be ready to make your defense to anyone who demands from you an account of the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and reverence. – 1 Peter 3.15-16
My mentor recently was invited to talk with a class at the University of Minnesota. His daughter is in the class and the whole class has noticed she is different. I imagine her difference prompted the invitation of her father to share in the class. He described result of his sharing in this secular, university class the following way, “I was genuinely surprised by how many of the students described my talk as ‘healing,’ and how they wanted to give faith and church another chance.”
This is what joyful evangelism looks like. When we come into a space filled with people who have no connection or desire to be involved with Christ, share Christ, with the result of a group of people who want to learn more. This is the life of faith Christ to which Christ calls us. So often in the church we are content to simply do church better. To attract folks from other churches because our music is better or our children and youth ministries are better or our preaching is better. These have been the primary foci of church growth strategy for a few generations now. I posit this is why the church has been in decline for the past 100 years as a percentage of the population.
What Christ is calling us to is not simply being better than our brothers and sisters down the road and therefore stealing some of their sheep for our own. Christ is calling us to live, move, and have our being as witnesses to Christ’s transformational love in our lives. An acronym historically used in Reformed Faith is “TULIP”. The “I” in TULIP stands for “irresistible grace”. We as Reformed people firmed believe that Christ’s grace is irresistible.
Christ consistently fills our lives with his love. This love is abundant and overfills us. We are loved beyond what we can even receive and the excess is what spills over into the lives of our neighbors, friends and family. It is this overflowing love which draws others to desire Christ in their lives. Just as churches are content to pull new members from other other churches, we are content to receive just enough love to fill our cup. Once we are full, we hold up our hand and say, “No more for me please, I’m full.” We mistakenly think that Christianity is simply about making sure our cup is full. It can not be denied that Christ loves you, however Christ also loves your neighbor. In God’s sovereignty, God has made us the conduct of that love to our neighbor.
So the fundamental question remains. What kind of church do we want to be? Will we be a congregation trapped in the rat race of belief that if are better than other churches people will come to us? Will we be a congregation content with new members joining because they just moved to town and chose us or they are unhappy with the music of their previous church? Or will we be a congregation who embodies the real Christ? Will we be a congregation filled with individuals who are filled with Christ’s love yet ask for more because we know there is a definitive lack of love in this world? Will we be a church filled with people who live in such a way that when others who have never encountered Christ see us they say, “You’re different. Why is that?” As we celebrate Christ’s coming in Christmas, may we be a people who upon receiving Christ into our lives are one’s whose love from Christ overflows irresistibly. May we be the Church Christ has called us to be.
In Christ’s Service,
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