#375 - PEARLS AND PIGS (18/6/21)
On Sunday we continued with our series on discipleship from The Sermon on the Mount. Today, we finish our devotions in Matthew 7:1-6.
Have you ever tried really hard to help someone only for them to fail to respond or even turn on you? I remember trying to help a man and his family who were living a chaotic life. One evening I even found myself wandering around the streets looking for their lost cat. They ended up turning on me and judging me harshly.
Even Christians need to learn when not to help. When not to share the gospel. When to stop trying to save people. Jesus teaches us,
“Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.’ (Matthew 7:6)
This sounds a bit harsh and judgmental! I thought that Jesus taught us not to judge and now I’m being taught to judge people as ‘dogs’ or ‘pigs’. What does this mean?
A great example of this is what Jesus said to His disciples when He sent them out on mission.
“Whatever town or village you enter, search there for some worthy person and stay at their house until you leave. As you enter the home, give it your greeting. If the home is deserving, let your peace rest on it; if it is not, let your peace return to you. If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet.” (Matthew 10:11-14 See Acts 13:51)
We are to seek to serve people. Seek to share the gospel (Pearls) with them. Seek to help people. However, we must make a judgement when we are just ‘casting our pearls before pigs’. In other words, we must decide when it’s time to walk away. The danger is that we pester people who are not interested and they turn on us violently.
In Proverbs we read,
“Whoever corrects a mocker invites insults; whoever rebukes the wicked incurs abuse. Do not rebuke mockers or they will hate you; rebuke the wise and they will love you.” (Proverbs 9:7-8)
Are you investing your precious time into people who are failing to respond or even mocking the gospel? You have limited time, who will you invest in? Are you in harmful relationships which are leading you into temptation and harm?
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.’
Discuss: How is investing in friendships salt and light? Who are the friends that you see regularly and how do you or could you invest in those friendships? How are you or could you be faithful to invest through prayer?
This is Inviting people into our church community and closer to Jesus, particularly through Alpha. If we have been investing in our friends, this step will often happen naturally.
Discuss: How is this element salt and light? What are the church events that we can invite people to? How can we be creative as a Community Group to create invitational settings? Do you have anyone that you could invite to an Alpha Course?
What do you plan to do personally as a result of this study?
What are you planning to do as a group?
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