You ARE The Church

Daily Spirit & Word: 716: An Eye Opener Day Off.

“Go AND Tell”

Mark 5:18-20 (NIV) The Demon Possessed Man: Had been set free by Jesus.
18  As Jesus was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon-possessed begged to go with him.
19  Jesus did not let him, but said, “Go home to your family and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.”
20  So the man went away and began to tell in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him. And all the people were amazed.

Yesterday, on my day off, I attended an Seminar on Equipping Church Members for their Mission.

Eye Opener No 1: Christians Really ARE the Church.

What struck me was what I already knew, but hadn’t fully grasped.

Let me explain: I’ve known ever since I became a Christian and sincerely began following the Lord Jesus that a Church is NOT a building, but the people of Jesus. You know that too right? Every single Christian is a part of the body of Christ and Jesus is the Head. Now I knew that, but here’s what got me yesterday, I’ve been teaching people they are the church, but still treating our buildings as a ‘Church’ to bring people to. I’ve been telling our folks to invite people to church in order for them to be saved, not realising that I’d inadvertently become the CORK in the Neck of the Bottle of God’s Wine of the Kingdom. I was giving my Congregation an excuse not to share the good news with folks without even realising it. It was like I was saying to them, “OK, you don’t like evangelism or talking about Jesus, so why don’t you bring your friends to church so I can talk to them for you”… Sounds great right, but it’s NOT what Jesus wants or expects.

My friends, we were NEVER called to bring people into a Church building so that the Minister or Pastor or Evangelist could save them for us. Our mission from Jesus was always, always, always to bring people to Him, then they will be a part of the church and want to come to worship with you, i.e. once they are part the people belonging to Jesus Christ, then you’ll have to fight to keep them from coming to worship. Because they’ll have received the Holy Spirit and He’s not going to leave a Christian out in the wilderness for very long. The Holy Spirit will drive them into fellowship, worship, Bible study and prayer and move them to share their faith in Christ with others.

So for years, hundreds of years, the Church has been getting it all wrong. We’ve been inviting people to church, they come and then they become members of the church family, they go through all the hoops; baptism, communion, confirmation etc… but do they actually come to Jesus Christ and get incorporated into His body? Well my friends, a harsh reality-check is in order. You see, the more people we interview on the streets of West Norwood in London as we go out weekly sharing the Gospel, when we meet people who attend church regularly, the ones who say they are “Committed Christians”, guess what they don’t know? They don’t know what it means to be a follower of Jesus or how to get SAVED by Him. I can tell you I’m still shocked by how many of these GOOD Church attending folks don’t KNOW Jesus or the Gospel. Now I’m not judging them, but it’s only through one-to-one talking about the Gospel with people who SAY that they are committed Christians we’ve come to realise that most of them just don’t know what it means to be saved. At best they’ll say “I hope to get to heaven if I’m good enough”… Even folks who attend Pentecostal, Evangelical and Charismatic churches, these are the ones that you’d expect would know, right? But they just don’t.

What’s Been Happening?

My friends, we’ve been inviting people to come to church, they’ve come, but instead of actually coming to Jesus Christ, they’ve become members of our church club, they’ve emulated the sheep, copies what the real sheep of Jesus do, but they haven’t come to Jesus Christ and been born again of His Spirit. Some have wonderful worship experiences, sense the Holy Spirit, feel the Spirit, but don’t know the Lord Jesus Christ as Lord or Saviour for themselves. They have no assurance of their own salvation. They know all about Jesus, they know the language of Zion, i.e. all the terminology of the church, but they’ve yet to fully entrust their lives to Him.

Eye Opener Number 2: You Are ALREADY bringing them to Church.

We’ve been telling people to invite people to come to the church building, and many have faithfully done so.

But Jesus didn’t tell us to do that, He told the Church to go to the people, share the Gospel (Good News), get them saved, then begin to Disciple them into the Christian way of life. We’re doing it the wrong way around for hundreds of years. Thankfully many have been ‘saved’ in the process, but just think of the potential if we were to do it the way Jesus wants us to?

Here’s what got me; EVERY CHRISTIAN is already taking people to Church. How? Because they, themselves, are the church. Whenever you meet another person who doesn’t yet know Jesus as Lord and Saviour, you’ve just taken the church to them.  When they are with you, in your presence, (if you are a Christian) then they are in church. That’s AWESOME! Think for a moment about that, how many non-Christians are in your presence every single day? At the bus stop, in the shopping queue, in the Cafe, in the restaurant, at school, college, work? Well my friends, they’ve just been to Church when they’ve been with you in those places: You are Church.

Eye Opener Number 3: Overcoming Fear of NOT Being A Credible Witness:

Because we ARE the Church, we’d better make sure that we’re being a credible witness always. Now that’s really hard, but because our NON-Christian friends are in Church when they are with us, the Church is a Holy Place right? You are holy because you are the Temple of the Holy Spirit who lives in you. So we’d better up our game, smarten up our witness, live like Jesus lived. In the New Testament, God’s Word tells followers of Jesus Christ, “Be HOLY for I AM Holy”…

Reality Check: One of the Number 1 Excuses for not inviting people to Jesus or to come to church with you: “They’ll see my weaknesses and know I’m not living as I should”… I was really surprised by this one, but it makes sense. We’re not inviting people to Jesus or to Church because we’re not living the Christian life we’re supposed to be living. You don’t want them to know what a genuine Christian is supposed to look like. You’ll be exposed as a fraud or a failure or an hypocrite or a weakling Christian. That’s understandable right? But …

But your non-Christian friends are WATCHING your life anyway, they’re looking to see if what you say you believe, you actually put into practice in this world. How’s your Christian living? Reality Check again: My friends, if they know you profess to be a ‘Christian’ and your not following as you should, they already KNOW that.

Evey Opener Number 4: Who Actually Brings People To Jesus?

You may not be aware of this, but 95% of people come to a genuine faith in Jesus because of; weak Christians who are not following as they should, because of dumb Christians who don’t know as much about the Bible as they should or want to, because of people who are not ministers or evangelists or gifted in evangelism. 95% of you came to Jesus that way. It wasn’t the Pastor who led them or you to Jesus, it was the average failing follower of Jesus just like you who did.

  • Most people don’t respond to the Gospel the first them they hear it.
  • Most people don’t come to church the first time they’re invited, get over it.
  • Most people are just as stubborn and foolish as you were at first.
  • Most people don’t want to be ‘religious’, they’ve not got time for that. Neither have you.

We all want to win thousands of people to Jesus don’t we?

Well if we’re going to do it, then we’d better be sure that when we’ve taken them to Church (i.e. when we’re with them in the world), that we’re living the Christian life as best we can. However, we need to realise that God is much bigger than even our weakest attempts at following Him. He’ll use you because He’s IN YOU.

My friends, YOU are the church of Jesus Christ wherever you are. No matter where you are, then you are on Mission. Because Jesus said, “You are the Light of the world”… “You are the Salt of the Earth”… Let’s be the salt and light He wants us to be when we’re with the people Jesus brings across the pathway of our lives. He is going to use you to bring people to Himself anyway, but let’s enhance the prospect of many more actually coming to Him.

“Church isn’t a place that people can go to, it is a PEOPLE they already KNOW”

Conclusion:

“It’s a New Dawn, It’s a New Day, It’s a New Life and I’m feeling good”…

Church is not a place that people could go to, it’s a PEOPLE that non-Christians already KNOW.

They know you, that you are a Christian, they love you still, even with all your weaknesses and failures, Jesus loves them too.

Now think of all your; friends, family, neighbours, workmates, fellow travellers you see every day, the ones who KNOW that you are or profess to be a Christian. These people are ones who KNOW that you LOVE Jesus: These are the people that God has brought into your life to lead them to Jesus. Now, even though we’re weak, foolish and don’t follow as we should, He’s going to be using you to lead them to Himself.

Remember what Jesus said to the man who was possessed by a Legion of Demons? Mark 5:19 “Go back to your family and tell them what God has done for you, how He has had mercy upon you”

The original Greek didn’t say “FAMILY” it’s a strange word: OIKOS: It lieterally means all the people who know you very well indeed. It’s those in your circle of life who know you best. The ones who’ll say, “I know that ________________ (insert your name) is a Christian”… These are the people who are your very own OIKOS.

My friends, you can do that too with all those people you know. Just like the man delivered from demons. Go back to your own OIKOS, the people who know you well. You can tell them all that Jesus has done for you (Your Testimony)… You can tell them HOW God has had mercy upon you, by forgiving you for all your sins and setting you free. You can share how you know you don’t follow Jesus as you know you should, but that you still love Him anyway, because of all the mercy, grace and faith you receive from Him.

Mark 5:18-20 (NIV) The Demon Possessed Man: Had been set free by Jesus.
18  As Jesus was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon-possessed begged to go with him.
19  Jesus did not let him, but said, “Go home to your family and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.”
20  So the man went away and began to tell in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him. And all the people were amazed.

My friends, go back to your OIKOS and share with them what Jesus has done for you. You will be His witnesses today… Salt and Light.

But before you Go and Tell your OIKOS and invite them to come to Jesus. It’s very important that you PRAY for them first. Bring them to Jesus in prayer first. Let Him open up their hard hearts. Let the Holy Spirit go to work on their minds… Let God take captive their thought-life and set them on the road to Salvation. Believe that Jesus loves them even more than you do, then you go to them and share Jesus.

In the lead-up to Pentecost we, along with everyone in the Church of England, have been called to a week of prayer for the evangelisation of the Nation. During that week we’re going to see how it’s possible to be WEAK Christians and still lead our own OIKOS to Jesus Christ.

Have an awesome weekend with Jesus my friends, I’m really looking forward to gathering with my OIKOS again.

Don.