Time To Look Out, Not In

“But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,”
~ 1 Peter 3:15
I love the Church.  I believe that God established the Church as the hope for the world to experience The Hope in the world.
I love God and His Word.  In my teens, a youth pastor, George made an impact with the importance of daily spending time with God and in His Word.  That practice continues to this day.   The power of God’s Word to ready us to give a reason for our hope with respect is impacting.
I love my family.  My wife, daughters, sons-in-law, grands . . . and my extended family.  I also love my Kingdom family . . . sometimes that takes work.
And, I love those who are not yet Christ-followers.  Those for whom Christ died.  Those for whom He wept.  Those who He came to heal, help and to give hope.
This is part of my passion and purpose.  Here’s why . . .
Our Condition. Paul wrote to the church, the Christ followers in Ephesus, “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins,” (Eph 2:1). He continues, “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved.”  (Eph 2:4-5)  All of us shared the same condition and the same condemnation.  We were dead, but God made us alive.    Paul goes on to say that “we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works.” (Eph 2:10)  Here’s our story . . . dead . . . delivered (by grace, made alive together with Christ) . . . designed (we are His workmanship or masterpiece crested in Christ for good works).
Our Compassion.  Love is powerful.  It was God’s great love that made us alive.  It’s love that shows those outside our circle of fellowship that we are His followers, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:35)  It is also love that moved God to send and give His Son as a sacrificial solution for our sin.  Jesus’ love caused Him to weep (Luke 19:41)  Jesus’ love labeled Him as a “glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!” (Luke 7:34)  Jesus love reached out to a woman caught in adultery, a woman with too many husbands, a cheating tax collector, a murderer, arrogant politicians and lowly fisherman.  His love kept Him engaged with those who little or no hope, those who had been rejected by the religious community or those who were unacceptable.  His compassion moved Him beyond comfort and convenience.  That same love moves us from the back seat to the front lines.
Our Community.  Jesus calls the Church to be on the offense, not the defense. (Matt 16:18)  John tells us, “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” (1 John 2:15). He goes on to describe the love for the world as a focus of pleasure, possessions and position. (1 John 2:16)  Our instruction to not love the practices of the world has been interpreted and implied that we not love the people of the world.  This is so far from the heart of God.  Jesus tells us we are a light for all to see. “In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” (Matt 5:16)  The brightest light shines in the deepest darkness.  Loving our community means living in our community.  Evangelism is not a once a week effort but a lifetime engagement.  God’s design was not that the church have walls to secure us, but that it have windows to share His light.
Our Commission.  Paul reminds the church in Corinth, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake He made Him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Cor 5:17-21).  New Creations.  Ambassadors.  Reconcilers.
Step out of your comfort zone, today.  Love someone who is in “the world” with the love that is out of this world.  Light the darkness . . . Shine Brightly!

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