Summary: God has called us and sent us out to intentionally do His work and carry His message.
Intentional Christian Living
Ill. The Times-Reporter of New Philadelphia, Ohio, reported in September, 1985 a celebration of a New Orleans municipal pool. The party around the pool was held to celebrate the first summer in memory without a drowning at the New Orleans city pool. In honor of the occasion, 200 people gathered, including 100 certified lifeguards. As the party was breaking up and the four lifeguards on duty began to clear the pool, they found a fully dressed body in the deep end. They tried to revive Jerome Moody, 31, but it was too late. He had drowned surrounded by lifeguards celebrating their successful season.
One of the reasons our evangelism is weak is because it is not as intentional as God intended. I find it difficult to live intentionally when it comes to reaching the lost. I prefer to live totally by happenstance, praying that God send me someone lost. I fail in this area too much. However, in my prayers, I sense that now is the time to lead our Church to intentional evangelism.
This is more than a catch phrase or a program. This is our way of life as directed by our Master. Jesus had finished telling His followers to be humble when they were invited to a party. Jesus was in the house of a Pharisee follower and He noticed how everyone had a pecking order and sat in their “socially assigned” seats (vs. 7).
Just a side note. I typically avoid speaking about a particular “issue” the Church is having because I tend to be non-confrontational (stop laughing, please). Typically, we are cautioned about preaching about topics we notice because we can too easily turn the pulpit into a “bully pulpit”. Notice that Jesus spoke about things the moment He sensed that God had put in on His heart or brought it to His attention.
If I fail in this as pastor, I will fail in one of two areas: 1. Not addressing an issue that could fester into bigger disruptions, 2. Addressing pet peeves under the deception that they are issues God brings to my attention. Please help me guard against both of these. I trust that you will not use this invitation as an opportunity to control the pastor, but as a loving counselor to help me walk closer to God.
Luke 14:12-14 He said also to the man who had invited him, "When you give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return and you be repaid. 13 But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, 14 and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the just."
To introduce our topic, let’s see how it came into the conversation. Jesus was telling His followers that we should not live according to what we get out of life, but what we can give without expecting repayment. He is teaching that it is not honorable to invite people to your party so that you will get an invitation to theirs. As a matter of fact, He pushes even further than this. He said don’t ask people where there is a chance of repayment.
The first thing we see in intentional Christian living is this.
I. Intentional Christian living seeks out those who need us the most.
If someone can “pay us back”, or benefit us by their involvement, they are not the subject of intentional Christian living. Therefore, serving them does not carry the fullest of God’s blessings.
Intentional Christian living seeks only God’s approval, and His approval only fully comes when we serve those who cannot ever benefit us. These are the ones who need the service the most. One who could repay us, as logic explains, they could, over time, meet their own need.
Intentional living is seeking to serve and give to those who cannot help themselves. Let me point out that there are three things that intentional evangelism is not:
i. Superficial attempts.
ii. Disingenuous attempts.
iii. Obnoxious attempts.
Luk 14:15 When one of those who reclined at table with him heard these things, he said to him, "Blessed is everyone who will eat bread in the kingdom of God!"
This is rich and beautiful. One of those followers, either a lawyer, scribe or Pharisee, was deeply moved by what Jesus said. It struck the cord of truth with him, and he obviously realized that this is why God included us.
We could never repay God for His inclusion into His kingdom, and our only chance was for God to invite those who could never repay. In this moment, I believe he is saying, “We are truly blessed in this truth because we are blessed with God’s invitation.”