Summary: Learning how to share our faith means being willing to walk across the room. This entails relationship building, doing favors and listening to the Spirit’s lead.
WHO DO YOU LOVE
13. Be Good News First
(TITLE SLIDE) INTRO
A couple of years ago, after listening to a talk by Dan, I looked more carefully at my behavior in mixed crowds of Christians and non-Christians. I noticed one day at the Y that there was this strategic distance I had created between me and this other group of guys talking. Why did I subconsciously create that distance?
After the next game, I made a conscious, strategic decision to walk across the court and sit right by the same group and a pleasant conversation ensued that built relationship. I realized that the starting point to loving lost people is to become a JUST WALK ACROSS THE ROOM kind of person.
(SLIDE) The REASON we become JUST WALK ACROSS THE ROOM kinds of people is because we serve a JUST WALK ACROSS THE ROOM kind of God. For I remind you men and women, of God’s commitment, not just to cross a room, but a universe for you.
(BULLET) John 1:1 – in the beginning was the Word, and the word was with God and the Word was God. …(14) The world became flesh and made his dwelling among us.
This God who left the circle of comfort in heaven to enflesh himself in the 2nd person of the Trinity, our Master, Jesus the Son. And his mission he said was to:
(BULLET) Luke 19:10 seek and to save what was lost."
If we are going to partner in that enterprise, we have to become more like God… just WALK ACROSS THE ROOM kinds of people. People who risk leaving comfort zones to love outsiders.
(SLIDE) Let’s just open up the Bible and read about two examples of this happening in the early church:
1. (BULLET) PHILIP: Acts 8:26-29 Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, "Go south to the road — the desert road — that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza." So he started out, and on his way he met an Ethiopian eunuch, an important official in charge of all the treasury of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians. This man had gone to Jerusalem to worship, and on his way home was sitting in his chariot reading the book of Isaiah the prophet. The Spirit told Philip, "Go to that chariot and stay near it."
a. Can you see JUST WALK ACROSS THE ROOM here? I don’t think this is a comfortable for him, do you? He’s living in Jerusalem, a big city with a thriving church community. It’s a mega church. Flagship church. But God nudges him out of the comfort zone: “Go out to the desert south of town.” Can you imagine the conversation? “God, what good will happen there? Jerusalem is where the action is! It’s the desert! What if I die out there?
i. That’s just the first walk that Philip makes out of his comfort zone.
b. But then you see while he’s out there, maybe wondering what he’s doing there, he observes a man reading the Scripture. There’s three strategic walls here:
i. one a racial wall. The man was an Ethiopian, he was black. Philip was probably Arab looking or as a Greek Jew, he might have been white.
ii. Two, an ethnic wall. The man was not Jewish. He may have been a convert because he had come to Jerusalem to worship, but as a born Gentile he was an outsider.
iii. Three a spiritual wall. The man was not a Christian.
c. But the Spirit wants Philip to put all those walls aside and cross the road. To leave a zone of comfort to love a God seeker, ignorant of the good news. So by leaving a comfort zone, Philip was able to lead one man to Christ. And what good did that one walk do? Church legend says, that one Ethiopian became the founder of the Coptic church which is the oldest Christian church in the world.
Let’s look at another example:
2. PETER: Acts 10:9-44 Peter was up on the roof praying and he fell into a trance. And in a vision he saw unclean animals on a sheet and a voice saying, “Get up, Peter, kill and Eat!” "Surely not, Lord!" Peter replied. "I have never eaten anything impure or unclean." The voice spoke to him a second time, "Do not call anything impure that God has made clean." This happened three times, and while Peter was wondering about the meaning of the vision, some men sent by a Gentile named Cornelius came to the door. While Peter was still thinking about the vision, the Spirit said to him, "Simon, three men are looking for you. So get up and go downstairs. Do not hesitate to go with them, for I have sent them."