We have all heard stories of the of a person sacrificing themselves for another-some triumphant tale of how one person invested their all in another, ultimately to see their hard work shine brightly as that other person went on to some type of achievement in life. Many sports coaches do this very thing all the time. Parents also could be considered among those who deeply invest in their children, in spite of obstacles, to see them go on to great things in life-because of the parents’ sacrifice for them.
Yesterday I wrote a blog on ‘engaging’ others, with regards to the message of faith with which we have been entrusted. Today I want to go a little deeper on that same topic. I want to discuss what it means to ENGAGE others and in doing so, I want to reference the 2 chapter of 1 Thessalonians for our text.
The apostle Paul was known for his affinity towards the churches he often started. Paul was the ultimate proponent of ‘sowing into others’ in order to see a harvest in people’s lives.
“We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the Gospel of God, but our very lives as well.” (1 Thess 2 :8)
We see here, the apostle Paul making a statement that would rock the contemporary church to its core if actually acted upon. The church was not designed by Christ to be a ‘members only’ social club, where the spiritually elite gather and do religious activities unto themselves. Jesus encountered this very thing in His day-the Pharisees, Sadducees and teachers of the Law were the very embodiment of a religious ‘members only’ club. The church is referred to in Bible as the ‘body of Christ’. We ARE His body here on Earth. Now you think about your body for a second-does it ever go around doing what it wants apart from your head? I think not! (If it does, we have some serious issues to discuss!!) No, the body functions in line with what our brains have in mind for a particular situation. The body goes where our minds want to go! Well then the question we need to ask is this: Where does Christ want us to go?
Ahhh…the million dollar question. As mentioned in my previous blog, Jesus instructed us to ‘Go into all the world to preach the Gospel, making disciples of all nations, teaching them to obey everything He commanded us’. So the head wants to go into all the world. The head wants to preach the Gospel and make disciples. If we are the body, then what does that mean we do? Exactly. We GO into all the world. We PREACH and TEACH the Gospel MAKING disciples. In the above Scripture, Paul says two things regarding his engaging others. He is sharing the Gospel and even more importantly, He is sharing his life with others. Many can preach at others and say all the right things but, it’s when we engage other on a personal level, that the Gospel takes on much of its power. This is called discipleship. Discipleship is what every believer is called to do. Discipleship involved engaging deeply into another person’s life, to share the Gospel and walk alongside them, teaching them the principles of the Word of God, so that true and lasting change is enacted in that person’s life.
In the previous blog, I gave a definition for the word engage. The 2nd portion of that definition was to ‘participate or become involved in’. Sound a lot like what the Apostle Paul was saying? It absolutely does. We can’t ignore those people walking by us in the convenience store. We can’t just keep driving when we see someone broken down on the side of the road. We can no longer keep to ourselves and not want to get ‘involved’ when we hear a co-worker talking about some trial or hardship they are facing. Now the rest of the world may operate that way-but not the church. The world is devoid of power to change anyone. Yes, an encouraging word and a gentle touch can definitely help someone and ashamedly, there are many non-Christians doing more of this than actual Christians. But we have the life of God within us and we are supposed to let our light shine before the world. The very life of Jesus dwells within and we are to share it with others. If you saw someone drowning and you had a life preserver, would you not throw it in the water to save that person? If you knew of someone with a terminal illness and you had the very cure, sitting in your pocket, would you not do everything in your power to get it to that sick person? Of course you would!! If we respond with such urgency and conviction regarding things in the natural, why not the same or greater urgency in the spiritual? This natural life is temporary but the spiritual, well that is eternal. Get the picture…?
“With the help of our God, we dared to share with you His Gospel, in spite of strong opposition.” (1 Thess 2:2)
The apostle Paul consistently faced dangers in sharing the message of the Good News of Jesus. He was persecuted tremendously, as were all the apostles, and many throughout the centuries, who have stood up for Jesus and dared to share. What keeps many of us from sharing? From engaging others? Fear of rejection? Fear of persecution? Fear of ineptness in knowing what to say? Fear is NOT from God but from the enemy of our souls-the devil. Those who have been born again, are not to fear because the Holy Spirit lives within. The Bible tells us ‘God has not given us a spirit of fear’ (2 Tim 1:7).
Fear comes when we rely on our own ability or strength. But we don’t have to because we don’t stand alone. We are the body…of Christ. In Jesus is all authority over sin, death and the devil. We are connected to Him so all those things belong to us as well!
We are called to reach others. We can’t stay silent, holed up in our little corner of life. We are called to disciple people but in order to do so, we must be willing to get our hands dirty, to get in the trenches, and invest in others. We can only do this if we step out of our comfort zones. Ask the Holy Spirit daily, to bring others into your path. Ask Him who He would have you speak to each day? Tell Jesus you are willing. All He needs is a willing vessel to work through.
He has given us the tools. Use them! Walk in them! Trust in Jesus! Engage!
Will you dare to share?
“You are like light for the whole world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. 15 No one lights a lamp and puts it under a bowl; instead it is put on the lampstand, where it gives light for everyone in the house. 16 In the same way your light must shine before people, so that they will see the good things you do and praise your Father in heaven” (Matt 5:14-16/TEV)