What are your motives for ministry? A good friend of mine was telling me recently how he went from unsaved skeptic to fired up leader for Jesus Christ, being now, on a variety of media just going full bore with the Gospel of Life. When he was in college, a well-known fire and brimstone evangelist at the time visited the church, to which my friend was invited.
At this time, my good brother was close to giving his life to Christ, but if he was not at the very door of salvation, he would have walked away from the Church. This preacher proceed to hit him over the head with the Bible, telling him he would be going to hell now, if he didn't say "the Prayer". Obviously, if the preacher's tactics had worked, he would have a good story to tell at this next stop, to make HIMSELF look good to the people listening.
This is absolutely not biblical and wrong way for the surrendered Christian to evangelize and make disciples. Unconditional Surrender to the Will and Ways of God extend even to this aspect of our lives. When Christ rescued us from the pit and brings us into the right relationship with the King of Heaven, we want to tell someone....or a whole bunch of people. However we have to do according to Biblical principles, to be an effective witness for the Gospel, which would be pleasing to the Lord. Pride is an abomination to Him.
This is how the Lord teaches, through Paul. This is how it works, remembering at all times, to be mindful to Whom we belong and to WHOM we owe everything. Before reading this passage, please pray for the Lord to open our minds, give us wisdom and then give someone to whom to share the Gospel.
1 Thessalonians 1:3-8 New American Standard Bible (NASB):
3 constantly bearing in mind your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the presence of our God and Father, 4 knowing, brethren beloved by God, His choice of you;5 for our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction; just as you know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake.
6 You also became imitators of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much tribulation with the joy of the Holy Spirit, 7 so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia. 8 For the word of the Lord has sounded forth from you, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith toward God has gone forth, so that we have no need to say anything.
As we pray and commit current and future opportunities to witness to others for Jesus Christ, not the following methods God's Agent of Change the Apostle Paul used:
- In verse #3 always be aware of your surroundings and the people to whom we are ministering, or potentially reaching. Take nothing for granted. What worked in one place, may not work in another. Then pray this opportunity up to the Lord, give it to Him, and then go do the work in Love.
- Reread verses 3 and 4 above and it will become evident to us, that the Power and Presence of God MUST be in present in our evangelistic opportunity for conviction of sin and turning to Christ to be the result.
- Be not like that self-absorbed evangelist I mentioned at the beginning of this post who was just trying to get another notch in his belt. Be like the sold-out apostle of Christ here - Paul - who bore his burden for the people of God, with love.
- As we surrender the opportunity before us, into the Hands of the Holy Spirit of God, any pushback we get (and we may most likely get more pushback in the beginning, than a welcome sign). Verse 6 talks about tribulation. This world hates us, hates our Faith and are enemies of the Lord Jesus Christ. There will be more obstacles than welcome signs. But remember, this is not about us, but the One Who has rescued us. At the same time, be aware of the joy of being counted as one who is worthy to be persecuted for Jesus, just as all twelve of Jesus' real disciples were.
Wisdom, Godly wisdom, is allowing God to do His Work, through the Holy Spirit and His Word, rather than us attempting things in our own power, for our own satisfaction. Trust God with our evangelistic opportunities and watch Him work, for His own glory. This is the only pathway to pure Godly passion for the mission.
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