Summary: Message about how Christians are supposed be looked on with favor, not with disgust, as happens so often today. While the gospel is offensive to many because of its call to repentance (and which is the basis for the world "hating" Christians), Scripture
Making the Right Kind of Impression
Acts 2:42-47; 5:12-13
November 2, 2008
NOTE: THE ME/WE/GOD/YOU/WE FORMAT USED (AND ADAPTED) IS FROM ANDY STANLEY’S BOOK, "COMMUNICATING FOR A CHANGE."
My intention for today was to continue working through our passage in Matthew as we look at the “woes” that Jesus pronounces on the religious leaders in His day.
But I couldn’t shake off the feeling that I was really supposed to address something I mentioned last week, and that was the idea that Church of Jesus has a bad reputation in our society.
Last week I read off some statistics from a book entitle, “unChristian,” by Gabe Lyons and David Kinnaman. Gabe Lyons runs a Christian ministry called “The Fermi Project,” whose goal is to help the Church make a positive impact on a culture that, by and large, wants nothing to do with Christianity and the Church.
David Kinnaman is the president of the Barna Group, which has been leading the way for many years in Christian research regarding the culture and how to impact it.
So you see, the book isn’t a collection of thoughts put together for the sake of trying to paint the Church in a bad light for the sake of denigrating it.
The purpose of the book and the research behind it was to find out just what kind of impact the Church was having on the current culture of non-Christians aged 16-29 years old. You know, the future leaders of our country and the world.
They were asked, “What is your current perception of Christianity?” Here are their responses, gathered over a three-year period, as I shared last week:
91% said anti-homosexual
87% said judgmental
85% said hypocritical
78% said old-fashioned
75% said too involved in politics
72% said out of touch with reality
70% said insensitive to others
68% said boring
64% said not accepting of other faiths
61% said confusing
These things may or not be actually true in any given church fellowship, but whether or not they are true, they are how the Church and Christians are viewed.
Perception is reality to many people. And if we’re perceived this way, it blocks the way for us to sharing the good news of Jesus and the hope He brings.
So what can we do to show people that they have a wrong picture of us, at least as a whole?
Because there’s no doubt that many Christians fit these categories all too nicely. And they’re proud of it.
But I’m convinced that these perceptions of the church are not accurate in terms of how the Church is supposed to be perceived.
So what can we do about it? That’s what I want us to look at today.
God: The basis for the message today is found in two passages from the book of Acts. This book chronicles the life of the early church after Jesus’ resurrection and ascension to heaven.
And in this section, we can find some fascinating things about how the early church went about its business, especially before it underwent massive persecution.
42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
12 The apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders among the people. And all the believers used to meet together in Solomon’s Colonnade. 13 No one else dared join them, even though they were highly regarded by the people. 14 Nevertheless, more and more men and women believed in the Lord and were added to their number.
The point is that while they weren’t the most popular group in town, they at least had the favor of the people.
You: Let me give you some ways to remedy the negative impressions people have about the Church and Christians.
Before I do that, let me add something: none of these things are of any value if they aren’t done in and with love.
The apostle Paul talks about how we can be all sorts of things – theologically smart, have huge faith, and be a religious big shot – but if we don’t have love, it’s all for nothing. So look at these things with that in mind.
1. Devote yourself to the teaching of the Scriptures above all else.