LAKE FOREST, Calif. (BP)–God has given every believer, in every one of our churches, a mission -– to go into the world and share the Good News about Jesus. Why? Why should we care enough about the people around us to tell them about how to get to Heaven? This can be a difficult concept to teach our congregations. How do we motivate them to take the Good News and share it with others? Here is something that might help.
The Bible -– in 2 Corinthians 5:14 –- says: “For the love of Christ compels us.” Our love for Jesus motivates us to fulfill our mission.
Everybody matters to God. God has never made a person that he didn’t love. God made some people that I don’t love, and God has made a lot of people that I don’t even like.
But God loves them. The most despicable person you can imagine is still loved by God. And because God cares, we must care.
I once watched a televised interview with Jane Roe –- of the famous Roe v. Wade abortion case. During the interview, she shared that she had become a believer in Jesus Christ. As she told her story, you could hear how her heart had been softened and she’d become a warm, caring, loving individual.
It dawned on me that one person who showed love and attention and shared the Good News with her –- one loving relationship –- in Jane Roe’s life did what all the protests in the world had failed to do and that was to change her mind.
You change people by love. Society is changed one life at a time. God has put specific people in your life that he expects you to share the Good News with. You’re the only Christian some people know.
If the members of your congregation don’t share the Good News, who will?
God will hold us responsible for the lives of the people he has put in our path to tell the Good News. Not just family, friends and relatives, but all the people we come into contact with.
That might scare some of your church members. Second Timothy 1:7-8 says, “The Holy Sprit doesn’t want you to be afraid of people but to be wise and strong and to love them and enjoy being with them. If you will stir up this inner power, you will never be afraid to tell others about our Lord.” That Living Bible paraphrase says the antidote to fear is love. The reason your church members don’t share the Good News is that they don’t love people enough to want to get them into Heaven. If they loved them enough, they’d want to tell them the Good News.
If one of my kids were in a burning building, I wouldn’t care how big the flames were –- I’d go in after them. I wouldn’t care if I got hurt. I wouldn’t care if other people said I was crazy. I’d still go in! I’d grab my child and bring him out. I may be singed and burned. Then people would say, “You were brave!” No, I wasn’t brave or courageous or crazy. I was motivated by love.
When we finally love our family members enough, we’ll have the courage to tell them about Jesus. It’s not like we’re trying to give them cancer. It’s not like we’re trying to sell them swampland in Florida or get them involved in some racket or scheme or con job. We’re telling them the greatest news in the world -– about forgiveness of the past, power and purpose in the present, and a home in Heaven in the future. We can’t get that deal anywhere else.
Many people in our congregations wonder how they should go about sharing their faith. You do it two ways: You’ve got to show it and share it.
Remember “show and tell” from your school days? That’s what God wants us to do. He wants us to help others visualize it with our lives and verbalize it with our mouths.
If you’ve ever served on a jury or watched a case on television, you know that the number one tool of a defense attorney is to discredit the credibility of the witness. If he can do that, then the case is thrown out. We’ve seen this over and over again. The witness turns out to be a drug addict or we discover he’s lied in two previous experiences or he has the same problem himself.
Don’t you think Satan is trying to do that with our members? He wants to discredit our lifestyle so other people will say, “If that’s a Christian, forget it.”
We can actually keep people out of Heaven by the way we live. The fact is — you’re being watched by your boss, your neighbors, your employees, your children, your relatives. Every conversation you have, every action you have, every word you speak has eternal implications.
That’s an awesome responsibility!
I shudder thinking that one day someone might use my life as an excuse for saying no to Jesus. “I’ve seen how Warren lives. If that’s a Christian, then forget it.” I shudder to think of standing before God one day and explaining that somebody went to Hell because of my example.
We need to show God’s love and live in a way that brings credit to God’s name. How we live is influencing where people will spend their eternity -– Heaven or Hell.
I need to show the message, and I need to tell it. Colossians 4:5 says, “Make the most of your chances to tell others the Good News.”
Some people say, “I don’t need to tell people. My witness is my life.” Do you realize what an ego trip that is? Even Jesus had to tell them how to be saved, and he was perfect.
They may not know why you’re good. We say, “My witness is my life.” That means you just walk in the room and people look at you and automatically fall on their face and repent and accept Christ. I doubt it! We’ve got to tell them.
Our mission is the same mission regardless of where we are in the world. It is to invite people into God’s family. I challenge you to challenge your church to get serious about sharing the Good News with the people God has put in their life.
Ask them, “Is anybody going to be in Heaven because of you?”
Rick Warren is pastor of Saddleback Valley Community Church in Lake Forest, Calif., and author of “The Purpose-Driven Life.”