Just Announced: Philippians Sermon Series

Summary: Does our Christianity show in our behavior?

Christ Likeness as a Strategy for Mission

This month, we are deliberating on the theme of Christ Likeness as a strategy for mission. This is a topic that is very personal to me, and I will explain that in a minute. This is what I begin with, in all my workshops on personality and Servant Leadership. Many of you know my own conversion story. Let me refresh it for you once more. I belonged to the Hindu faith, but was really a non-practicing Hindu, having been fed up with the rituals and corruption in Hinduism. Leslie took the risk of marrying me when I was an unbeliever. She actually went against the scriptures to marry an unbeliever. So you know who the risk taker is, in the family. After our marriage, she asked me if it is OK with me if she goes to the church. I really didn’t care and for all that mattered, she could have gone to a mosque, as far as I was concerned. So her church going re-started and as a loving husband, I used to drop her to the Church every Sunday morning and pick her up from the Church after the service, in our bike. I always used to drop her outside the church premises. In the meantime, she was quietly garnering prayers for my salvation, and the church folks started to come to our home to fellowship and just talk. Nobody really shared the gospel with me, and if they had, I would have fought with them, because I was a real hard nut to crack. Probably they guessed as much and left me to myself. However, this “breaking of ice” with the church folks coming to our home encouraged me to join their post service fellowship when I used to reach a little early for picking her up. That is really when I started to notice something. I started noticing that there is something different in these folks. I am not saying everyone was different, (because as in very church there were folks who were mere church goers as against being believers) but there were enough true believers in the church, whose behaviour aroused my curiosity. The way they handled issues, the way they faced sickness, the way they resolved conflicts, the way they hoped, all looked different to me. Again remember, it is not everyone. There was even one case where a family lost their teenaged son in an accident. A DTC bus knocked him down fatally while he was riding his bicycle. The manner in which the family faced that trauma, and more importantly how the parents met the bus driver, forgave him and brought healing to both themselves and to the driver, really touched me. My logical conclusion led me to suspect the church service to be the reason for their different behaviour. So I decided to sit through the service just to find out what makes the difference in these people. That led me to study the word, and that ultimately led me to accepting the Lord after 8 long years of resistance and arguments and doubts and study. Of course, the persistent prayers of Leslie and her church members acted in the background to make that change. The reason why I wanted to share my conversion story this morning is to emphasize the fact that is the behaviour of some Christians that attracted me to Christianity. It is the Christ likeness that I saw in some of them that led me to study Christianity and eventually accept Christ.

The topic for this month is “Christ Likeness as a strategy for mission” I would actually like to make a slight change in that topic. I would change it as “Christ Likeness as the strategy for mission”. To me, without Christ like behaviour, mission does not even start. In the past weeks, Pastor Narayanan and Pastor Albert Davis have brought about the Christlikeness aspect in Christ’s relationship with the Father and the Holy Spirit. I would like to focus on Christ’s relationship with fellow human beings, you and me. Let us look at the greatest missionary Paul himself. In the passage that was read to us this morning (1Thessalonians 2:1-12), Paul states that they not only shared the gospel with the Thessalonians but their lives as well, and he lists some of the characteristics of the lives they lived among them to attract them to Christ. Love compassion, care, humility, boldness, without flattery, without covetousness, holy, just, blameless etc are the words that are used in this text. And you just need to read the next few verses to see the result. “1 Thessalonians 2:13-14 (NKJV) For this reason we also thank God without ceasing, because when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe. For you, brethren, became imitators of the churches of God which are in Judea in Christ Jesus. For you also suffered the same things from your own countrymen, just as they did from the Judeans.” Clearly Paul’s Mission strategy worked there, and Paul’s Christ likeness is the reason for that success.

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