Summary: We as Christians are at our best when we are personally growing in our intimacy with God, community with insiders, and influence with outsiders. (Special thanks to North Point Community Church for the 3 Vital Relationships concept.)
Three Vital Relationships: Influence with Outsiders
We are wrapping up our Three Vital Relationships series this morning. We have talked about the importance of our relationship with God and our relationship with those who are a part of our church family. This morning I want to talk about the important or our relationships with those outside the church.
We believe that God has invited us to be integral part of sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ with those who have not yet heard. We each have a circle of peers: friends, family members, co-workers and neighbors, who need to hear, and who better to tell them then you; a trusted friend.
Video: Adapted from a vision by William Booth, founder of the Salvation Army
I read a great article by Russell Moore…The Next Billy Graham Might Be Drunk Right Now. In the article he recalls a conversation he had with the theologian Dr. Carl Henry about the condition of the church. Russell was expressing concern about the future of the church; asking where will the next great leaders come from?
He wrote, “We asked Dr. Henry if he saw any hope in the coming generation of evangelicals. And I will never forget his reply.”
“Why, you speak as though Christianity were genetic,” he said. “Of course, there is hope for the next generation of evangelicals. But the leaders of the next generation might not be coming from the current evangelical establishment. They are probably still pagans.”
“Who knew that Saul of Tarsus was to be the great apostle to the Gentiles?” he asked us. “Who knew that God would raise up a C.S. Lewis, a Charles Colson? They were unbelievers who, once saved by the grace of God, were mighty warriors for the faith.”
Of course, the same principle applied to Henry himself. Who knew that God would raise up a newspaperman from a nominally Lutheran family to defend the Scriptures for generations of conservative evangelicals?
The next Jonathan Edwards might be the man driving in front of you with the Darwin Fish bumper decal. The next Charles Wesley might be a profanity-spewing hip-hop artist right now. The next Billy Graham might be passed out drunk in a fraternity house right now. The next Charles Spurgeon might be making posters for a Gay Pride March right now. The next Mother Teresa might be managing an abortion clinic right now.
But the Spirit of God can turn all that around and He seems to take great delight in doing so. The new birth doesn’t just transform lives, creating repentance and faith; it also provides new leadership to the church, and fulfills Jesus’ promise to gift his church with everything needed for her onward march through space and time.
Think about this, in Acts chapter 8 Phillip, one of the original church deacons, is leading the Ethiopian eunuch to Christ. Guess what Saul of Tarsus (later to be known as Paul) was doing? He was still busy imprisoning and killing Christians. The most prolific and influential writer of the New Testament was a murderer until God got ahold of Him.
In the start of the very next chapter we read…
Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples. He went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem. As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him.
He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” “Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked. “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied. “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.” Acts 9:1-6
God had a plan for Saul’s life, and that plan did not include murdering Christians. So, at the right time God stepped in and Saul experiences this incredible conversion.
Now, most conversion experiences are not nearly as miraculous, but all conversions experience the unique drawing of the Father. Jesus said… "No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day.” John 6:44
Now, Saul’s conversion was pretty spectacular, but even in this God chose to use one of His children to influence Saul down the right path. Let’s keep reading…
The men traveling with Saul stood there speechless; they heard the sound but did not see anyone. 8 Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing. So they led him by the hand into Damascus. 9 For three days he was blind, and did not eat or drink anything.