By Edwin Crayton/Opinion
In the previous article I used the example of a sports stadium to comment on the current state of Christianity (to read part one, type my name in the search bar). I contended that being a Christian is like being an athlete, competing in a contest. I compared the sacrifice great athletes make to the selfless service Jesus commanded his followers to make (Luke 9:23). I further compared spectators in the stands to people who are either lukewarm towards Jesus or who simply don’t believe in him, because those who don’t believe or who are lukewarm have the casual attitude of spectators. In contrast to those on the field they are not committed and are interested in being served rather than serving. I maintained that Satan, the enemy of all humankind wants all people to be damned, so he lures them away from serving God by enticing them with pleasures and an attitude that causes them to seek to be served rather than to serve God and humanity.
Admittedly, this may seem like an impossible task, but here are ideas inspired by Scripture:
The best place to start is to simply obey what we have already been told to do by Jesus in the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20). He told us to spread the gospel to the lost. In his book, Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire, Pastor Jim Cymbala of the respected Brooklyn Tabernacle said, “Consider how many gospel-preaching churches there are in the fifty states of America–200,000, if not more. If each of these churches, on average, brought only two converts to Christ a week–not robbing people from the First Baptist or First Nazarene down the road, but winning new people for the kingdom of God–that would mean 100 new baptized believers in each church in a year’s time, or 20,000,000, nationwide. The population of the entire United States is about 270,000,000. By merely bringing eight or nine people a month to Christ in each church, America would be dramatically changed within two or three years. Can any serious Bible-preaching church not take on this modest goal in the name of its King? God’s plan for the local church has always centered in evangelism. Those brought to Christ are thus born into the very place where they can be nurtured and discipled. This avoids the slippage we often see when parachurch ministries try to do the work mainly assigned to the local church.”
Next, attend Bible studies. There is nothing in the Bible that is fat, or fluff. When God teaches us something, it is always something we will need. Someone once said, “Prayer is us talking to God. The Bible is God talking to us”. If God has something to say, shouldn’t we listen? When we refuse to listen to God, we have already sinned. Remember the first sin was Adam and Eve’s decision not to listen to God, and obey a voice other than his. That simple refusal to be taught led to all the pain that exists in the world.
But let’s be honest: few church members attend anything other than Sunday morning services. Is it possible they do not believe the times we are living in are urgent? We need to understand, embrace and obey God’s word now more than ever. Only God’s word can give us the guidance and peace we will need to navigate the times ahead. No matter how great a Christian you are, you can always be better. Will you allow God to mold you into a better you? God himself said, “My people perish for lack of knowledge” (Hosea 4:6).
As God enlightens you with fresh insight, share that and also share what you know about Jesus with nonbelievers. Why? Well, let me ask you a question. If you had just been saved from a house that was on fire, and you knew there were others still trapped inside, would you just forget about trying to help rescue them? Well, isn’t that what we are doing when as saved people we neglect to tell others about how we were saved and how they too can be saved? And instead we decide to focus only on our own spiritual needs? Can it be that some of us who claim Christ forget that we were not once sinners, but are still sinners saved by grace? God reached down and used someone or something to save us. Now it’s our time. You don’t need to be T.D Jakes or Billy Graham. God has the words for every single one of us. He just needs you to surrender to be used. Ask God and he’ll show you how to share Jesus. You can begin with the simple act of inviting a friend to church. That one benign act may positively change a life.
Worship God and give him praise in his sanctuary and outside of it. I cannot tell you how many so-called “praise” worship services I have been in where almost no one actually sings or praises God. The Psalms commands us to sing praise to God (Psalm 92) Why? Simple: not to is to disobey Him and his teachings (Psalm 95, 1 John 5:3, Luke 6:46). Secondly, God deserves our worship and praise. James 1:17 says, “All good things come from God.” Therefore, every single thing that is good in your life and mine comes from God: love, health, wealth, laughter, joy, wisdom, you name it. In fact, if anything is good it comes from him. In fact, without God there is no goodness at all, because there are only two kingdoms in existence: God’s and Satan’s and if you are not with God, guess who gets you whether you want him or not? That alone should make us want to sing praises and give thanks! “Thank you, God, for at least keeping Satan away from me!” Also, when we praise God and tell of the good he has done for us, that encourages others who do not know him to be at least curious about him. It may inspire someone to try Jesus. Testify of what he has helped you overcome. What a gift to give someone (Psalm 103:2).
“In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did what was right in his own eyes.”
–The Book of Judges 21:25
“The fault dear Brutus, is not in our stars, But in ourselves.”
–Julius Caesar, Act 1, scene 2” By William Shakespeare
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