Let Us Love In Deed & Truth (Part 1)
Recently, I ran across an article entitled “Thirteen Things Churches Need to Know.” The content aptly fits the topic of evangelism. Here are three of the things mentioned:
There is a 0% growth rate in churches that tell their kids to sit down and shut up.
I wonder how often parents have taught their children in the home in this manner? The teaching from Ephesians 6.4 is: “Fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but nurture them in the chastening and admonition of the Lord.” Is there any clearer example of provoking a child to wrath than “sit down and shut up?” Do we as parents fully understand (and practice) “nurture?” the Lord chastens and admonishes with compassion (Psalm 103.13). Jehovah’s goal was restoration of fellowship between himself and the outcasts of Israel in building up Jerusalem (Psalm 147.2). Jesus described his compassion as a hen gathering her chicks under her wings (Matthew 23.37). Does the “sit down and shut up” approach fit with nurturing, or provoking?
A fitting reminder: A child’s view of God’s chastening will be as the parents’ chastening was. If it is done in the home, it will certainly have a long-lasting effect upon the child’s behavior in the assembly. Will the “sit down and shut up” approach have a positive effect upon evangelism? Acknowledging failure is not enough. Parents’ nurturing of children must exemplify the chastening and admonition of the Lord.
Spend 100% more time talking about Jesus than you do about issues.
If preaching reflects this, the congregation will, in time, view “issues” as a part of the gospel. Issues can vary in nature, however. Think of what you hear discussed among your acquaintances, friends, and family. These conversations constitute your “current issues.” Address those issues discussed by those with whom you interact on a regular basis. Don’t allow yourself to become obsessed with the issues that occupy the attention of your friends and acquaintances. Rather, interject Jesus into the conversation. A simple change of subject will often present an opening for evangelism. Is Jesus your obsession? Is his word your meditation? The words the psalmist need to be etched on the forefront of our minds: “Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the wicked, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of scoffers: But his delight s in the law of Jehovah; and on his law doth he meditate day and night” (Psalm 1.1-2). If you are honest with yourself, what do you talk about more: current issues, or the Bible?
As with idolatry, wherein we become what we worship, we likewise become the person we talk about. If we gossip, we become gossips. If we slander, murmur, whisper, backbite, etc., we become the very person we talk so much about. What’s more, we sow seeds of prejudice in the ears of all who hear us! As parents, we do the greatest injustice and abuse to our children by implanting prejudice into their hearts with unwholesome words. It will forever plague them as much as the behavior of the Israelite parents plagued the lives of their descendants. A perverted gospel will plague future generations, just as Jeroboam’s calves in Dan and Bethel plagued. Israel.
Let us, as disciples, remember the admonition of Jesus: “Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves” (Matthew 10.16).
If the only thing your community knows about your church is its location, then you are failing.
Consider this: Are you ashamed for anyone to know where you attend? Are you ashamed for certain people to know where you attend? There is a difference. Could it be that you don’t want anyone to know about “your church” because you are ashamed of yourself? If you were to address sin among your peers or acquaintances, would it be out of character for you (cf. James 3.10)? One who practices sin yet condemns it in others is condemned (Matthew 7.1-5). One who practices righteousness before others is blessed and glorifies his heavenly Father (Matthew 5.1-16).
What the young preacher Timothy was told by the aged Paul needs to be taken to heart: “Be not ashamed therefore of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner; but suffer hardship with the gospel according to the power of God” (1 Timothy 1.8). Are you ashamed of Jesus? Are you ashamed of his body? The church is the pillar and ground of the truth (1 Timothy 3.15). Are you ashamed of the truth? These questions are related to the first two points. No one who meditates on the law of the Lord is ashamed of Christ’s church. No one who hates his brother has eternal life abiding in him (1 John 3.15). But he who has hate in his heart will speak evil of his brother in the hearing of his children (Luke 6.45). In doing so, he provokes his child to wrath.
Let us not love in word, neither with the tongue;but in deed and truth.
1 John 3.18