#371 - DO NOT JUDGE THOSE OUTSIDE (14/6/21)
On Sunday we continued with our series on discipleship from The Sermon on the Mount. This week at CCP it's our ‘SIV week’. This is when we focus on how we can ‘Serve, Invest and Invite’ our community. Therefore, our devotionals will pay particular attention to how we may apply this text in our evangelism.
I love to hear stories of how people became Christians. God can bring anyone to Himself. There is no one that is beyond His love and ability to change.
If we are going to be effective in helping those who don’t yet believe, it’s vital that we believe that God can and wants to forgive and bring people back into a relationship with Himself no matter how far they seem to be from Him. Jesus taught,
“‘Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way as you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” (Matthew 7:1-2)
This is a warning against judging wrongly. Christians are to make good judgments even as the next verse 7:6 will show us! However, It's wrong to judge someone as beyond God’s grace; it’s wrong to look at another’s sin and concludes that there’s no way that this person can become a Christian! Maybe someone’s views, lifestyle, intellect, religion... make us judge them as ‘un-saveable’.
Of course, a Christian ‘judges’ people as condemned, otherwise they would never seek to share the Good News of forgiveness in Christ (Rom. 1:16). But, this kind of biblical discerning desires and hopes for mercy. We are to see in our own journey of mercy a story that can be shared by anyone!
God challenges us,
“Surely the arm of the Lord is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear. But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear.” (Isaiah 59:1-2).
If we are not seeing new people come to faith, it’s because we are judgmental, prayer-less and in compromise. God’s arm is not too short to save!
Are you being faithful to pray for your community and specific people that God has put into your life? If we are failing to pray, it may be a sign of that we are judging them in an ungodly way; are we judging them as beyond God’s mercy to save? If we are not praying, It may even be a sign that we are judging God as not having the concern, mercy and power to save them. If we are not praying, it may be a sign that we just lack compassion.
COMMUNITY GROUP STUDY - SIV-WEEK - SALT AND LIGHT
It might be good to begin with notices. Please share from this week’s Church News.
This is the first SIV-Week study. SIV stands for Serve, Invest and Invite. This is a simple way of thinking about reaching our community for Jesus.
The importance of our mission was brought home to me recently when I read a story from John MacArthur,
“Some years ago, a magazine carried a series of pictures that graphically depicted a tragic story. The first picture was of a vast wheat field in western Kansas. The second showed a distressed mother sitting in a farmhouse in the centre of a wheat field. The accompanying story explained that, when she was not looking, her four-year-old son had wandered away from the house and into the field. The mother and father looked and looked all day, but the little fellow was too short to see, or be seen, over the wheat. The third picture showed dozens of friends and neighbours who had heard of the boy’s plight and had joined hands the next morning to make a long human chain as they walked through the field searching. The final picture was of the heartbroken father holding his lifeless son who had been found too late and died of exposure. The caption underneath read: “O GOD, IF ONLY WE HAD JOINED HANDS SOONER”
If only we had joined hands sooner! Only if we pray and work together will we be a church that reaches our community for Jesus. If we live individualistic lives with church as an add-on, we will have very little impact. Jesus is calling us to ‘go and make disciples’ together.
I) LET’S RECAP OUR VISION AT CCP
We have a vision at CCP of “Bringing people to Jesus”. A key text that has helped to shape this,
‘On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.”’ (John 7:37-38)
This invitation is to us and to the whole world who don’t yet know Jesus. How do we bring people to Jesus? At CCP we focus on three different relationships:
Our goal to help to bring ‘myself’ to Jesus: We encourage the church to 'come to Jesus daily' by setting aside quality time each day in prayer and worship out of the Bible, asking to be filled with the Holy Spirit (20 minutes, using the ‘coming to Jesus daily’ blog is a good start).
ii) One another
Our goal to help bring ‘one another’ to Jesus: We ask that every member be devoted to building an amazing Community Group (Meeting weekly is a good start).
iii) My Community (The focus of SIV)
Our goal to help us to bring our ‘community’ Jesus: In our Community Groups, we regularly share and pray about how we are going to 'Serve, Invest and Invite'. To aid this, we will have a monthly SIV Week in our Community Groups.
Before we move on, it’s really important to remember that the our mission to those outside of the church is empowered by our personal (myself) relationship with Jesus, and the encouragement of others (one another). Effective, fruitful evangelism has healthy roots in Jesus and His community. We cannot expect the fruit without the roots!
II) SALT AND LIGHT
Please read Matthew 5:13-16
Christians are salt and light. This is our identity. Many Christians have lost this vision for their lives and have lost saltiness and their light has grown dim. Our church needs to regain this if we are to see lives transformed in the ways that we are not seeing now.
Salt, in the first century, a day without refrigeration, was used to preserve food. It was also used to add flavour to food. It was also added to certain sacrifices in worship.
When we think of Light, we are to think of various forms of flame torches and candles rather than modern electric torches.
These two metaphors of salt and light speak of the good influence which Christians are to exert in the community.
A great way to Influence those around us is through being a SIV church.
III) THE THREE ELEMENTS OF SIV
Let’s think in more detail about the three elements of SIV.
i) Serving - real needs
People who see our love in action - our ‘good deeds’- will be much more open to our message. Serving our community can be helping individuals or being involved in a community project, a club etc. For example, one could serve young people and their parents through involvement in the church youth work or by being a governor in a school. It’s small things like cleaning the microwave at work. It’s big things like running Serendipity Cafe.
Discuss: How do we become salt and light as we serve others? How are you or could you serve your community? Is there anything that we could do together as a Community Group?
ii) Investing - in friendships
Invest in friends through faithfulness
Investment is about time and faithfulness. It’s going to the club faithfully. It’s phoning the friend regularly. It’s sacrificing for the good of others. Many Christians speak of love and wanting to reach the ‘lost’ but are not prepared to make time for people!
Invest in friends by taking an interest
There’s too much that could be said here about evangelism skills. However, the simple skill of being interested in your friends and expressing this by asking questions is too often overlooked. Why will anyone listen to your message if you won’t hear theirs?
Invest in friends through prayer
Rico Tice, in his book, Honest evangelism, points to the need for long term investment relationally, but also in prayer,
‘Research suggests that when people put their faith in Christ, on average it’s taken two years from the point when they came into meaningful contact with a Christian who witnessed to them—and that time period is growing. Witnessing is a long-term commitment to invest in a relationship, to pray tirelessly, and to speak the gospel over and over again, patiently and persistently. It is a journey of gospel conversations. It really does take effort.’