Posted by: pastortomvabeach | April 25, 2017

Thought for the Week April 30, 2017

I have noticed that the warm days are becoming more numerous and my grass is almost all green which tells me spring has finally sprung. I trust that you are all enjoying as much time outdoors as you can.

As we unpack the core values of Christian Chapel, the next one on my list is that we are relational. This means that we intentionally go after making friends with people, those who come and connect here, and those we meet and befriend outside the church. We believe this is important because it is increasingly true today that most people meet Jesus for the first time through others they know.

The culture in the West today is growing more and more post-Christian. By that I mean that the majority of people today do not have any basic context of knowing the stories and promises in the Bible. Where 50-100 years ago, it was not uncommon to meet someone for the first time, engage in a conversation about spiritual things, point out the truths in the Bible, and see them make a commitment to Christ; today that doesn’t work as well.

One big reason is that so many have no framework of biblical history on which to build such a conversation. What many people know about Christianity or the church, they have heard in the media and much of that is either false or so skewed that it offers no good frame of reference. Cold calling is not as successful as it once was.

That is why friendship is so important. In relationships, people get to know Christians and by knowing Christians, they get to see what Jesus is like. As we spend time with friends, they see how a relationship with Jesus affects our lives and we get opportunity to share real life accounts of God’s grace and love for us.

Studies reveal that somewhere around 85 percent of people who do not attend any church say that they would go to church if someone they know simply asked them. If that is the case, bringing a friend to church can open the door for making more friends in the church and, as an individual begins to grow close to the group, he or she also hears more about what God can do for anyone. What we see happening a lot today is people actually “belong” (be getting connected to a local church) before they “believe”. And friendship is the means by which people belong.

If you examine Jesus’ method of recruiting and growing His followers, friendship and closeness had a lot to do with it. When John the Baptist pointed Jesus out to his own followers and said, There He is, the Lamb of God. (John 1:36), two of them went after Jesus and Jesus instruction to them was simply, Come and see (John 1:39). He was saying, come along, hang out, check out what I’m doing, what I’m teaching and see if you don’t want to join up. That’s a great prescription for bringing people to Jesus today. Just tell friends, “Come and see.”

In the great account that tells us how Ruth, a Moabite woman who married into a Jewish family, eventually became an ancestor of David and also of Jesus, we see this great idea fleshed out. After her husband and her mother-in-law, Naomi’s husband both died and Naomi decided she had to return to Israel, Ruth wanted to go and live there with Naomi, who had now become a very cherished friend. Naomi tried to discourage her from coming with her, knowing there wasn’t much in Israel for a Moabite girl, who had been brought up worshiping pagan idols. But Ruth was adamant in wanting to go and said these words, Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God. (Ruth 1:16). What better picture of friendship leading to loving the Lord can we have. Ruth had grown so close to her mother-in-law that she wanted to be with her and being with her meant that she would belong to the same group of people to which Naomi belonged. The best part was that hanging out with Naomi lead Ruth to know the one true living God.

As we fiercely pursue relationships with people, let the Lord develop friendships that will cause people to say to us, “Where you go, I will go, your people will be my people, and your God will be my God.” Wouldn’t it be great if each one of us could make one friend and bring them into friendship with Jesus? Just a thought.

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