Summary: From a series on our church’s Core Values
Trinity Baptist Church April 9, 2006
Evangelism as a lifestyle
A cartoon pictures a medieval Crusader, standing in full armor and holding his shield. He also held his long sharp spear at the throat of a prisoner on the ground. The prisoner on the ground struggles to say, “Tell me more about your Christianity. I’m terribly interested!”
That’s kind of the picture lots of Christians and non-Christians have of what we’ll talk about
this morning. Our subject develops some pretty extreme allergies both in some believers and some unbelievers.
For 8 weeks, we’re working our way through Trinity’s “Core Values“, examining their biblical foundations. We began with “Scripture is foundational” -- last time we considered “Grace driven authenticity“. Today comes the E-word. Evangelism. The value is simply, “Evangelism as a lifestyle.” You’ve got it in your worship folder; the explanation is also there.
Everyone in the body receives the commission from Christ to be part of furthering His message. We saw that clearly in the book of Acts in the last months. And, rather than church-centered evangelism, we desire to help individuals, couples and families become evangelistic in their outlook and habits of life. We encourage people to relate in genuine ways with unbelievers and seek to share Christ out of healthy relationships.
You’ve heard me say our Values are principles we prize, principles God has begun to build into us. The fact that we identify them as values by far doesn’t mean we’ve “arrived”. Because we value them, they’re what we want God to work into our fabric, as people and as a fellowship.
This value is one that’s not second nature to many of us. Some of us avoid it -- resist it -- even run from it. I remember as a young freshman, around the Navigator ministry at K-State, and one fateful evening, my Bible study leader, Dave Gras, had the audacity to suggest that Christians shouldn’t just grow in our faith, we need also to share it. I remember a sense of fear welling up in me.
I won’t beat you up today, you can be sure of that. Because you’re looking at someone who can share Christ, I think, in an effective way. And I do. Sometimes. But this value hits me between the eyes -- because I don’t regularly form the kind of quality relationships out of which effective witnessing can take place. I’m what’s called a professional Christians. So, my circles are mostly Christians. You all. Christians from other walks of life. Pastors and others in full time ministry.
I say that to say, I need depth on this one. You probably do too. I’m determined to get some. So let’s pursue it together.
Who better to show us how to relate Christ’s message than Jesus Himself. As He encounters men and women in the gospels, He defines for us gracious, personal interaction with needy people. This woman in John 4 has deep needs. By every human standard, she’s didn’t matter to anyone. If she had dropped dead carrying water back from the well, people would barely have noticed.
For one, she’s a woman in a culture that viewed women as less than fully human. They had few rights and were considered practically property. She’s a Samaritan. Samaritans were pretty much despised by surrounding peoples, especially the Jews. But, in His amazing way, Jesus transforms this woman‘s life; and simultaneously He models the sort of personal witnessing to which He calls us. What’s He show us?
1. Christ’s witnesses connect with thirsty people. (1-15)
The account exemplifies how Jesus met people on their own turf. Jesus knew what we need to learn. Harvesters must get in the field. Fishermen go where the fish are. Someone said, "Fishing in your bathtub might be terribly convenient, but it’s not highly effective."
That’s the difference between us expecting people to come to us, and going to them. Jesus had 132 contacts with people in the gospels. Six were in the Temple, four in the synagogues. All the others were out in life situations. One of the accusing comments the religious leaders threw at Jesus, was He connected with people they considered down-and-outers -- outcasts -- little people, rejects in their religious culture.
How does Jesus connect here? He begins by crossing barriers to demonstrate her value. First, Jesus crossed cultural barriers. Verse 4 says Jesus had to go through Samaria. That statement is true geographically, but it wasn’t true culturally. Samaria was straight north if a traveler was headed to Galilee. But no self-respecting Jew would travel throught Samaria. The proper Jew would cross over the Jordan, then go north, then back west to get to his destination.
The Samaritans were a mixed race and they mixed worship of God with pagan rituals. After Jews were deported to Assyria, the Assyrians repopulated areas with captives from other countries to settle the territory and keep the peace. Those new peoples intermarried with the few Jews left and formed the mixed race. So the Jews hated the Samaritans because they weren’t pure and felt they’d betrayed their religious heritage. Jesus had to go through Samaria, to keep divine appointments.