Summary: In John 3:1-2, the apostle tells his readers that the world doesn’t know them, and therefore they won’t recognize the God they believe in. Based upon this, we as the body of Christ need to realize and not be suprised that when we share the gospel, it is o
The Problem At Hand- The Challenge of the Great Commission
Great Commission- We are all familiar with the great commission given by Jesus of Nazareth in the gospel of Matthew before his ascension. It is to go into the world to proclaim and circulate the good news, baptizing the new believers into the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. This is our obligation and it needs to be our passion. The passion and the need to tell others about this great salvation that has been lavished on us by the God of Israel. We have all experienced the difficulty of telling others about our faith and I believe that its safe to say that for all of the positive encounters we have had in doing this, unfortunately there have been many more negative ones and guess what, many of those times, we have ourselves to thank.
My Own Experience- When I say this, I am speaking about myself. I am the first one to know just what a powerfully negative impact one can have on those they are trying to witness to. For a period of a year, I was deep into witnessing to people online, in particular, Jehovah’s Witnesses. I had the theology down pat, I had the arguments memorized, and yet I probably pushed them farther from God then anything, and you know why? I forgot that they didn’t know the Father, and therefore, my responsibility wasn’t to argue doctrine, it was to demonstrate the Father character.
John’s Appeal, Don’t Be Surprised- And this my friends, this is where the Apostle John comes to the podium to not just give us words of wisdom but more importantly, a challenge to keep in mind when telling others the great news of Jesus Christ. The Apostle is clear,
NIV 1 John 3:1 How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. 2 Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.
“ They don’t know you, because they don’t know HIM”. He is telling us, Don’t be surprised that your hearers don’t receive you well, don’t be shocked when they act as if they don’t know you, don’t find it surprising when they ridicule your faith, because they don’t know your Father who is the author and finisher of your faith. They have no knowledge of the God who raised your Lord from the grave and who will one day raise you, and therefore they don’t know you. This is such an important word to know, its shouldn’t be taken as a suggestion but rather as an appeal.
When going into the world, we need to remember that those people that we desire to witness to have probably had many negative experiences with religion, they have probably been so turned off by t.v. evangelists that they are ready to walk away at the first mentioning of the word “God”, the first statement that we have good news to share with them, the first time they hear the word “bible” come from our lips, and with good reason. Therefore, we need to recognize and remember that we are obligated to show them something that they aren’t expecting, that my friends is the love of God, the peace of Christ, and the power of His resurrection.
Ways Not To Witness- This means, there are certain actions that we should stay clear of when trying to display the character of God, such as:
• Attacking their belief/unbelief
• Begin to debate them
• Speak down to them
• Give up on them
These are four reactions that should be avoided at all costs if we are going to have any opportunity to display the character of God to those we witness to.
Our Response to the Problem- Show them who God is:
At Fuller Learning How To Do This- The way we will be able to stay clear of displaying these actions is to fall in love with the character of God, and thereby displaying the character in a more positive way. After all, we are here at Fuller Seminary to be trained and raised up to become the next generation of great preachers, teachers, elders and pastors; the leaders of the body of Christ, that is why we are here. Even though we get caught up in our G.P.A. and our degree, our purpose for being here is to learn how to better exemplify and illustrate the character of the Great God of gods, and the Lord of Lords to the strangers of this world and my friends the only way this will happen is if we ourselves know God intimately, passionately, and are insatiable for his presence. We need to fall in love with the character of God if we are to show this character to others. Oh I know that it isn’t always fun, I know that it isn’t always enjoyable to read his word and frankly, there will be times when we will go into prayer and have no idea what we are there for . . . And that is ok. Just as Rome wasn’t built in a day, so to our relationship with God isn’t created in a day, but rather it is built up over a lifetime. But that lifetime, that needs to begin today!