Summary: Effective Christ-followers... Keep Paying it Forward, Work as a Team, Listen to the Holy Spirit, Act on the Revelation They Receive
Marks of an Effective Christ-Follower
Intro: The world today is confused about what it means to be a Christian. They’ve seen enough scandals and double standards that many of them have completely lost all faith in the church, religion, or Christians. In fact, in many settings it is becoming increasingly counterproductive to identify yourself as a “Christian,” not because you are ashamed of the gospel, but because it brands you as someone who is judgmental, intolerant, narrow-minded, self-righteous, smug, delusional, and weak-minded, along with any number of other stereotypes. The answer is not necessarily in a name-change, but I’ve been drawn lately to this term, Christ-follower. That is what a Christian is supposed to be, and many are. However, those who say they are but act differently are clearly not following Christ. How can you identify a true Christ-follower?
Prop: Effective Christ-followers are those who learn to lovingly do what God wants them to do.
TS: Let’s take a look at some of the identifiers of an effective Christ-follower.
I. Effective Christ-Followers Keep Paying it Forward (Acts 16:1-3)
1He [Paul] came to Derbe and then to Lystra, where a disciple named Timothy lived, whose mother was a Jewess and a believer, but whose father was a Greek. 2 The brothers at Lystra and Iconium spoke well of him. 3 Paul wanted to take him along on the journey, so he circumcised him because of the Jews who lived in that area, for they all knew that his father was a Greek.
-It goes without saying that effective Christ-followers are willing and able to share the good news with others. However, it must not stop with them. Paul was willing to take Timothy under his wing, training and preparing him to lead people closer to Jesus. Timothy already knew the Lord and was a disciple or Christ-follower. However, he needed someone to come alongside him and help him go to the next level of discipleship.
-What do we know about Timothy? Timothy was Jewish through his mother, but had never been circumcised, probably because his Gentile father did not believe it served any good purpose. However, Paul had him circumcised so would be able to minister without causing undue offense to the Jews. One of Paul’s mottos was that he was willing to become all things to all people so that by all means he might win some to the Lord. Apparently Timothy was willing, or it would not have happened. This is not something that grown men typically would volunteer for. It was painful and inconvenient. Perhaps this gives us a glimpse into the character and commitment of Timothy. Last week we talked about John Mark, who appeared to lack commitment – at least for a time. By contrast, Timothy was willing to do whatever was necessary to help share the good news about Jesus. He traveled with Paul, ministered in various places, and eventually became the Pastor or leader at the church in Ephesus.
-It may seem strange, on the heels of the Jerusalem Council, that Paul had Timothy circumcised. After all, the very letter they were carrying to the various churches from the elders and apostles in Jerusalem essentially said that circumcision was not necessary for Gentiles. But then again, Timothy was a Jew through his mother, so circumcision would not have been out of the ordinary for him.
-On the other hand, consider Titus, another companion of Paul’s who was a Gentile. In the book of Galatians, ch. 2, Paul tells that even though there was Jewish pressure for Titus to be circumcised, they did not give in. Why? Because Titus was a Gentile. He did not need to become a Jew in order to be saved. In 1 Corinthians 7:18-20, Paul writes, “Was a man already circumcised when he was called? He should not become uncircumcised. Was a man uncircumcised when he was called? He should not be circumcised. 19 Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing. Keeping God’s commands is what counts. 20 Each one should remain in the situation which he was in when God called him.”
-So, be who you are, but love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength! Obey Him and be willing to do things His way.
-Well, Paul invested in Timothy and trained him to be an effective Christ-follower. He encouraged him to boldly share the good news about Jesus. He wrote to Timothy in 2 Timothy 1:7-8: “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline. 8 So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord, or ashamed of me his prisoner. But join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God.”
-Furthermore, Paul trained Timothy to keep investing in others so that more and more people would learn to teach others about Jesus: 2 Timothy 2:2 “And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others.”