by: Micki Gowdy
Take 10 @ 10:00. Our Weekly Devotional
We have been discussing our Wesleyan beliefs (from The Wesleyan Way by Scott Jones). Last week we began our discussion that part of our Wesleyan way is to invite others to join us along the way. We are encouraged to have an outward-focused faith, living for others and not ourselves. Witnessing through our actions is essential, but we should not ignore witnessing with our words (which is often harder, I think).
Icebreaker question: think about the word "witness." We often hear this word most often used in a legal context (a witness to a car accident or a crime). What does it mean to you to be a witness for Christ?
Hebrews 11 recounts the deed of many people in the Old Testament who, by human measure, did amazing things. But in every case, the author of Hebrews gives God the credit for what was done, because all those deeds were accomplished by faith. In two very powerful verses (Hebrews 12:1-2), the author calls these persons "witnesses" saying: "So then let's also run the race that is laid out in front of us, since we have such a great cloud of witnesses surrounding us. Let's throw off any extra baggage, get rid of the sin that trips us up, and fix our eyes on Jesus, faith's pioneer and perfecter. He endured the cross, ignoring the shame, for the sake of the joy that was laid out in front of him, and sat down at the right hand of God's throne."
Witnessing through our actions is important as we "walk the walk: not just "talking the talk," but witnessing with our words is important as well. People who look at our food pantries or other acts of generosity may not know that we are giving for Christ. People who observe us lobby for the poor or marginalized may not see the deeper reasons of faith behind what we do. Do you think people need an explanation when loving actions are done in the name of Christ? What are the benefits of explaining our motives? What are the drawbacks?
As Wesleyans, we believe that is is God who does the saving work, and we are simply God's instruments. We are a small part of a much larger process. We owe it to God and to whose we serve to proclaim and explain that process and to give God the credit. You might call in "truth in labeling." If we are helping to change to the world in Christ's name, then Christ should be credited. What are some ways this can be done while addressing the drawbacks you listed in Q1?
Think about the following slogan: "Make a friend. Be a friend. Bring a friend to Christ." Do you believe (really) that all people need Christ? Do you believe that all people need the Church? If we believe the answers are yes, then our course of action is clear (perhaps not comfortable, but clear). But go back to the slogan. We cannot bring someone to Christ until we have made friends with them and been a friend to them. This is not "cold-call" evangelism. This is an investment of our time and our lives.
Let's look at that word "evangelism." What does it mean to you? Billy Graham? Hypocritical Christians talking more about rules and less about love? Evangelism simply means "good message," What is the good message we have to share? In its simplest form: God loves you and wants a relationship to help you find fulfillment in life. If that is the message, it can't be delivered with hate, racism, sexism, exclusion, or greed. A message about love has to be delivered with love if it is to be accepted and believed. How can you be an evangelist, telling people about the good message of Jesus Christ?
Have a great week. Hope to see you in worship on Sunday. Invite a friend! (Be an evangelist).