How to be the happiest Christian in your church

missionsWhen missionaries showed up at our little church in Iowa, it was always a special Sunday for me!  Their stories about far away place, the things they laid on the table at the front of the church –  pottery, animals skins, musical instruments, and hand-made tools captivated me.  Most set up a projector and screen where pictures  appeared that transported me to some African nation or Asian island!  Their work included fording raging rivers, holding great revivals, and helping to heal the sick!   In my mind, they were the great Christians, God’s Special Forces, with a higher calling than the rest of us.  More than one Sunday night, during the prayer time that always ended the meetings, I felt a mixture of fear and thrill as I asked God, in deep sincerity, if He wanted me to be a missionary when I grew up.  (By the way, even though I am all grown up these 50 years later, I still admire missionaries who leave friend and family to follow God’s call!)

God’s calling is not only to Zimbabwe or Uzbekistan!  All of us who are in Christ are commissioned to tell the Story!  People in desperate need live in my town, and yours, too.  Efforts that bring Christ’s good news to people who look and act like us may not be as dramatic as those missionary stories of old but the need is just as great.  Familiarity often blinds us to the ‘lostness’ of our next door neighbor.  Jesus urged his disciples to take another look, with eyes that saw what God sees- “As you look around right now, wouldn’t you say that in about four months it will be time to harvest? Well, I’m telling you to open your eyes and take a good look at what’s right in front of you. These Samaritan fields are ripe. It’s harvest time! ” (John 4:35, The Message)

Bringing the Gospel to our neighbors probably won’t involve a big tent filled with a thousand people like the missionary’s pictures showed.  We won’t have to cross flood-swollen rivers in a dug-out canoe to preach to a remote village or face the hostility of a local chief!  (Writing this, I remember those stories like I heard them yesterday!)   Reaching our neighbors will be much more ordinary – praying faithfully for people to know Him, living a life that is remarkable for the beauty of His holiness, really caring for those in need, maintaining hope when others are despairing, and learning when and how to wisely point to Jesus, the Way to life.

It’s easy to fool ourselves into thinking that America is a “Christian” nation since there are churches along our highways, preachers on our TV’s (that’s a whole different subject!), and crosses dotting the landscape.  The reality is that we are a lost people – inundated with pornography, enslaved by greed, and deceived by pleasure worship.  Our political system is broken, our justice system is nearly a joke especially for the poor, our prisons are overflowing.  Many of our churches are lifeless, religion is everywhere, but God is absent.

Into this kind of need, God sends us as people of hope, entrusted with the words of life. Believe me when I tell you that helping someone find Christ, turn their life around, and start living as a follower of Jesus is an experience like no other. For all the ‘church work’ that I do, what really keeps me going as a pastor are those moments when another person is born again, baptized, and changed by the Good News of God’s love!  You can be a disciple-maker.  Forget the stereotypes of street preachers yelling about God’s impending judgment or the Jehovah’s Witnesses knocking on your door to hand out literature.  Be a friend! Live the Gospel. Pray every day for a few people that you know need God.  And, live the Gospel before you speak the Gospel.  You are a missionary.

Here is the word from the Word – Jesus’ direction for us. “God authorized and commanded me to commission you: Go out and train everyone you meet, far and near, in this way of life, marking them by baptism in the threefold name: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Then instruct them in the practice of all I have commanded you. I’ll be with you as you do this, day after day after day, right up to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20, The Message)

When you have prayed with your friend, your children, your neighbor, your parent and helped them to find the Light, change their eternal destiny, and real hope – you will be the happiest Christian in your church!

_____________

We’ve A Story To Tell To The Nations

We’ve a story to tell to the nations

That shall turn their hearts to the right

A story of truth and sweetness

A story of peace and light

A story of peace and light

 

We’ve a song to be sung to the nations

That shall lift their hearts to the Lord

A song that shall conquer evil

And shatter the spear and sword

And shatter the spear and sword

 

We’ve a message to give to the nations

That the Lord who reigneth above

Hath sent us His Son to save us

And show us that God is love

And show us that God is love

 

We’ve a Savior to show to the nations

Who the path of sorrow has trod

That all of the world’s great peoples

Might come to the truth of God

Might come to the truth of God

 

For the darkness shall turn to dawning

And the dawning to noonday bright

And Christ’s great kingdom shall come to earth

The kingdom of love and light

Henry Ernest Nichol

Public Domain

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