Advent Week 2
Advent week 1
A Movie trailer came on the other day. I have no idea for what movie but a line sprang out of it and landed on my heart.
“Never underestimate the power of Hidden treasure!”
If you believed there was treasure hidden in your backyard wouldn’t you spend hours every day and night with a shovel in your hand searching? Would blisters stop you? Would snow fall of a cold day or the scorching heat of summer? If you believed there were millions in Gold in your backyard nothing would stop you from finding it.
If you believed there was treasure available to you across town or across the globe would you risk life and limb? would you sell your house to finance the trip? After all what is the value of a house compared to the treasure that is in store?
Jesus said something about this in Matthew 13. He said the kingdom of God is like a hidden treasure and like an expensive pearl when you find it you will give up everything!
Friends, what if we are over thinking evangelism? What if we are over analyzing what it means to share our faith? What if evangelism is simply letting people know there is “Gold in them there hills!” A treasure, actually, more valuable than Gold, silver, a precious gems; It is a treasure that has the ability not only to change lives but to reshape the entirety of the universe. Yes it is that big. It is the good news of Christ.
The good news that sin is forgiven and we can be in union with the creator.
The good news that says all things will be set right.
The good news that says justice will come and righteousness will reign and mercy and grace will be poured out on us.
The good news that says all things are being made new. They are being made new today and will finally be made new in completeness when the day of glory comes.
It is the good news of Christ.
So how do we let people know about this hidden treasure? It is simple. If you have found the treasure – simply go on a spending spree with it.
Grace you received – grace you give
Forgiveness you received – Forgiveness you give
Peace and comfort was dug up like a treasure – Peace and comfort you spend on others.
the message of the life, death and resurrection of Christ you heard and its this message you share.
Go in the grace of God, spending his resources on the world like they will never run out.
I recently was provided with the book “Just Walk Across the room: Simple Steps pointing people to Faith” by Bill Hybels
I was happy when the book was given to me. I knew of the recent controversies surrounding Hybels (If you don’t know about it a quick Google search will inform you). However, I received it happily and began reading it happily in efforts to help me be more apt and active in sharing my faith and teaching others to do the same.
I am about 50 pages into the book. If I would have read the book a year or two ago I would have enjoyed it. I would have been encouraged by it . I would have been helped by it.
I thought I could disregard the controversy. I was wrong because sin ripples and sin stains.
With each story of someone he witnessed to and that came to faith I wonder; did they survive the controversy? How has what Bill did affect their faith?
With each story about being led by the Holy Spirit, I am cynical. I wonder if it is true. I wonder if he really was and what else was going on in his life during that plane ride where he shared his faith. I wonder when he Just walked across the room what was going on in the other room with the doors closed.
Sin can’t be isolated. It ripples. It stains. It sticks. It contaminants.
The choices we make in life will affect more than we will truly ever know. The choices we make have deep and lasting ramifications to the kingdom of God.
I don’t know if Bill’s sin has contaminated too much what I can learn from him in this book or any of his others. I don’t know if I can get through the book. This fact may say more about me and possible judgmental attitudes than him. Whatever the case may be, it does illustrate plainly sin stains.
This should give us pause. Stop, think, consider. How has my sin reverberated throughout my life and the life of others? How has my sin contaminated? How has my sin-stained and broken things? How have I fallen way short of perfect? You may not be a sexual predator (or maybe you are) but your bad choices and your sin do affect others whether you want to believe it or not.
There is Good news Jesus cleanses. Jesus purifies. Jesus heals.
If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. – I John 1:8-9
God can do a work in Bill Hybels heart.
God can bring healing to the women Hybels preyed upon
God can forgive me and make me new and He can do the same for you.
When is the last time you invited someone to church?
When is the last time you shared the Gospel?
If the only people that showed up to church this Sunday were people you personally invited the last 6 months—would anyone be there?
These are the type of questions I am asking of myself and my church as I just finished reading “The Unchurched Next Door” by Thomas Rainer.
This is a pretty easy read and I recommend everyone to read it to get a little encouragement, along with some understanding and perspective. You can buy it here.
A big recurring theme throughout the book is “If you invite them they will come.” That is if you invite people to church they will come. Rainer and his team interviewed over 300 people that were unchurched. They asked each of them If a friend or family member were to invite you to church would you go? 31% said they would be very likely to go. 51% said somewhat likely and only 18% said not likely at all.
Then what is the problem? Why is it that week after week in many churches, there are few new faces? It is simple; Christians are not inviting their friends and families to church. Take a look at what unchurched people are saying.
“Eric is a trip. We will be talking about the chargers or the Padres, and before you know it, he’s telling me something about his church or God. I really respect him, He doesn’t beat me over the head with his beliefs, but he isn’t shy to talk to me about them. Most of the church people I know act like they are ashamed of what they believe.” – Peter W
“You know, the two ministers that talked to me were nice enough but, I mean, like that’s their job. But I’d like to get into a conversation with a church person that’s a normal person like me. Why is it that regular church members never talk about religious stuff?”– Harland G.
“I see several of my neighbors leave for church on Sunday Morning. I am usually on the porch reading the paper, or sometimes I mow my lawn. Every time I see them leave, I feel a little catch in my throat. I mean, I know I should be doing something religious, but I just haven’t attended church most of my life … I know these neighbors who go to church. We talk about a lot of stuff. But I never heard them say anything about their church, God, or anything religious. Why is that? If church matters so much to them why don’t they ever say anything about it?” – Elmer Y
“Mike and Jenny and I make more money than any of us ever dreamed. But we’ve talked about how the money hasn’t really made us happier. I know that they go to church regularly, so I sometimes hint to see if they’ll say anything about it. One time we got into this real serious discussion about important things in life. I decided just to ask them outright if church was important to them. You should have seen how red their faces turned….I just can’t understand it. I think I’m really searching for something, but no one seems to want to talk to me.” – Sharon W.
“I probably would attend church if someone invited me, and the closer the friend the more likely I would attend.”–John E.
These are real things that real people said. People wanting and searching and wondering why God’s people are silent.
Is it really simple as a conversation? Does all it take is a simple invite? From the data Rainer and his team collected the answer seems to be yes. From my own experience, I will say I have invited several(not enough) people to church throughout my life. I also have not invited others (too many). Something I noticed is that it is far more likely for someone whom I invite to come than someone that wasn’t invited.
This week call your friend, call that family member and simply say “ Hey I was wondering if you would like to join me this Sunday at church.” you might be surprised at what happens.
Other insights from the book.
There is much more information, stories and encouragement found in “The UnChurched Next door” and perhaps one day I will write more about it. However, I believe the above 700 words faithfully capture the heartbeat of that 250-page book.