Summary: Isaac reveals the ways of winsomeness.
Last Sunday the congregation of Mount Hope Church in Lansing, Michigan received several unwelcome protesters into their 11:30 AM service. On cue members of a gay rights activists group called Back Bash began disrupting the service. They were attempting to protest the passing of California’s gay marriage ban, Proposition 8. Protestors outside the church, dressed in pink and black shouted “Gay is okay” and “Jesus was a homo” through a megaphone. Protestors inside the church shouted profanity, confronted individual church members, threw confetti, glitter, brochures, and condoms all over the sanctuary, and kissed one another beside the pulpit. The incident ended when police arrived and the activists peacefully dispersed. No arrests were made.
It’s not clear why this church was chosen for protest. Activists say that Mount Hope is a hate-filled, anti-gay church. Others in the community say the church has done little more than offer prayer and counseling to hurting people. Whatever the case, it’s clear that the overall message of the church is being rejected by people who desperately need to hear and embrace it.
How different this is from New Testament times. In those days the Christians took the gospel to the streets and they were warmly received. Listen to the response of the crowd in Jerusalem after Peter’s sermon on Pentecost:
When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” Acts 2:37 (NIV)
Many people of our generation are no longer asking that question. In fact, they don’t want to hear the words come out of our mouths. A few weeks before the election I read one blogger’s reaction to Sarah Palin. He rejected her as a VP candidate because, in his words, “I don’t want her cramming her religion down my throat.”
Part of the problem lies with our culture. The mainstream media, entertainment industry, and secularized public education have nurtured a generation that rejects any claim of absolute truth and insists on tolerance and equal footing of all points of view. The idea of sin and the need for a Savior has been all but erased in our collective consciousness.
But let’s be honest. Is our culture any worse than the ancient Greco-Roman world that the apostles successfully took the good new of Jesus Christ to? A shallow study of history would tell you “no.” The truth is that part of the problem today is Christians and the church. For some reason we have lost the qualities that made the early believers so attractive. Admittedly, there are some people who will refuse Christ no matter what, but we can do much better and become much more winsome to a lost and dying world. This morning we’re going to study …
The Ways of a Winsome Believer
We’re going to take a few cues from the life of Isaac and learn from the things that he did right. He had a magnetic faith early in his life that literally drew pagans to him.
The story begins like a repeat from Abraham’s life. Famine hit the land of Canaan and God appears to Isaac telling him not to go to the land of plenty in Egypt. Along with the command, God renewed His promise to bless and protect Isaac. He reminded Isaac of His covenant with his father Abraham, especially this part: