Summary: Jesus would have us as a local church to get involved in outreach for Kingdom growth.
Reaching Out in Love
I Thessalonians 2:8 (New Century Version) “Because we loved you, we were happy to share not only God’s good news with you; but even our own lives.”
A year ago we did a survey of 350 homes in our community. In our survey we asked several brief questions:
1. How long have you lived in this community?
2. Are you currently involved in a local church?
3. What could our local church do to better meet the needs in our community?
4. In your opinion why don’t more people attend church?
5. Do you have any prayer requests?
On the average about one family out of ten were involved in a local church. About one family out of twenty-five requested prayer. Most said they had no time for church. Sunday was their only day to shop and take care of their home and personal needs.
Jesus would have us as a local church to get involved in outreach for Kingdom growth. Jesus would say to us what he said to his disciples: “Do not say, ‘Four months more then the harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest.”
No place in the New Testament does Jesus say to the unbelieving world. “Come to Church.” He does say to all Christ-followers – “Go into all the world.”
Jesus doesn’t want us to be satisfied with little or no harvests. Jesus wants us to reach out in love and bring people to Jesus.
Preparing for harvest is hard work. I grew up in a farming community in Gypsum, Kansas. I’ve spent many hours working on farms, baling hay, tossing bales, plowing fields, and harvesting wheat.
A good harvest is preceded by a lot of hard work. You have to prepare your fields for planting grain. First you plow the ground, then, you disc and harrow the ground. Then at just the right time you drill and plant the grain. You wait for adequate snow and rain. Then in Kansas around the first of July when the grain is ripe you combine the wheat. Harvest time has a brief window of several weeks.
If you harvest too soon the grain is too soft and can spoil. If you wait too long the grain becomes hard and shatters when it goes through the combine. You work from sunup to sundown to gather the grain.
My dad grew up on a farm and they harvested wheat with a threshing machine. They had to cut the wheat and take it to the steam-driven threshing machine. Today you can cut wheat in a combine with a 20 foot header, sit in an air-conditioned cabin and have the radio playing music, and computerized equipment, producing a greater harvest than before the combine was computerized.
As a local church we should not be satisfied to go through our routine of ministry programs without seeing people come to Jesus.
There are many metaphors that we might use to describe the local church – a hospital for the healing of human hurts, a Lighthouse, a Mission outpost, or a community of loving and caring people.
The theme for the 40 Days of Community for this week is “We Reach Out Better Together.” Philippians 1:5 “We are in partnership with the gospel, spreading the good news about Christ.” (NLT)
The purpose of the church is seen in the Old and New Testaments. The well being of the people of God was directly proportional to their obedience to God’s mission for them. When the people of God have a sense of mission things go well and the church is strong and healthy. When the church becomes introverted and loses its desire to minister in Christ’s name to those who are in need, problems set in.
When the church expends itself for the sake of others, it becomes healthy and grows. When the people of a church catch the vision of being a part of the answer to the hurts and needs of the world around them they gain incentive to participate in helping to advance the Kingdom of God.
Jesus said, “Whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. When we lose ourselves in something far bigger than ourselves, namely Christ’s work, we find ourselves.”
We fail to reach out in love when we become more focused on ourselves than on others.
When we continually look at what’s wrong rather than what’s right with the church we fail to connect with the outside world. A negative and critical spirit keeps us so busy putting out negative fires that there is no time to start any positive fires..
The Apostle Paul warned the Galatians in Galatians 5:14-15, “For the whole law can be summed up in this one command: love others as you love yourself. But if instead of showing love among yourselves you are always critical and catty, watch out! Beware of ruining each other.”