Not Scared! – September 18th, 2018

Not Scared!

Our Monday night small group that met last night is focused around The Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20). We spent some time discussing why it is that we find witnessing to those we know, more difficult than sharing with those we don’t know. Along with that just what prevents us from witnessing period.

I’ll share some of that and some possible resolutions. Read on!

Note from Kip…

I threw out a question last night for our small group to wrestle with for a bit.

What is it that prevents us from sharing our testimony?

Our group that meets on Monday evenings is focused around all of us being Disciples of Jesus and in turn seeking to help others become Disciples as well.

Becoming a real Disciple of Jesus isn’t a 13-week course and instantly you are His Disciple. This is a journey that begins with our surrender to Jesus and accepting His gift of salvation. It isn’t concluded after taking a course or receiving enlightenment on a particular passage of scripture. Discipleship is a journey that begins with salvation and ends at the feet of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Being a Disciple

Just as from a practical matter none of us are ‘Christian’, more properly we are becoming ‘Christian’.  The term Christian means ‘little Christ’ or ‘Christ-like’. Unfortunately, all too often we find Christians that have chosen to become ‘Christ lite’.

The point is, it is correct to say we are becoming a Christian because we are flesh and as such we are imperfect and prone to falter due to the inherent corruption of the flesh.

But that is not how you came to know Christ, assuming you heard about him and were taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus, to take off your former way of life, the old self that is corrupted by deceitful desires, to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, the one created according to God’s likeness in righteousness and purity of the truth.

Ephesians 4:20-24 (CSB)

Casting off the fleshly component isn’t something that we can do on our own, it requires God’s assistance to undergo that transformation. We will shed the corruptible and put on incorruptible but that’s not going to happen until we see Jesus face to face.

But in the meantime, Jesus says that He’s not about to leave us on our own struggling with the flesh. Jesus made it abundantly clear long before Pentecost that this relationship we’ve entered into with Him has strings attached. Perhaps bindings is a better term to use instead of strings.

“I will not leave you as orphans; I am coming to you. In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me. Because I live, you will live too. On that day you will know that I am in my Father, you are in me, and I am in you.”

John 14:18-20 (CSB)

I just have to imagine that His Disciples at the time must have had that, ‘What is He talking about now’, look on a regular basis. We know now that Jesus was talking about His Spirit abiding in us, but for those around Jesus when He said this, it must have been a real puzzling comment.

The strings or bindings that I speak of is the intertwined relationship we have between all members of the Trinity and us. Consider this, per the passage above, Jesus is in the Father and the Father is in Him.  Okay got that? Now consider that the Holy Spirit is both God the Fathers Spirit and Jesus the Son’s Spirit in the person of the Holy Spirit, so Both Father and Son are in the Spirit as well. Now add to the fact that when we surrender our lives to Christ Jesus He places in us effectively Himself in the person of the Holy Spirit, as we place our hope and trust in Him.

So, you see, this is a nice tight package between God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit, and us.  I told you there were strings attached.

But the Disciples at the time that Jesus told them this had no clue what all this involved. We’ve been blessed with the clarity of time and the guidance of the Holy Spirit to understand this more clearly today than they would have as Jesus spoke this. Undoubtedly, those that remained ‘in Jesus’ over the course of His life and death on the cross would have come to the understanding we have today as well, but again the passage of time and events helps that understanding along.

Time does something else which is not a benefit to us. Time passing tends to dull the shimmer of facts and dim the level of enlightenment. If we are not aware of this threat to it and give proper attention to sharpening understanding and focus ever more light on our relationship with Jesus.

Jesus taught the parable of the 10 talents. At the closing of that parable He says:

“So take the talent from him (the servant the squandered his talent) and give it to the one who has ten talents. For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have more than enough. But from the one who does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him.”

Matthew 25:28-29 (CSB)

Applied to our spiritual lives, upon our redemption there is an amount of insight, understanding, and devotion we start out with. As we focus on The Word, remain obedient to Jesus and His Word, and listen to what we are instructed by the Holy Spirit, these grow over time.

Inversely, if we squander our salvation, our walk will be hollow, empty and without meaning.

The more we apply the Word of God to our lives and in obedience adopt those precepts it teaches us, brighter and sharper these things become.

But we will never be fully like Christ Jesus until He takes us home.

Dear friends, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet been revealed. We know that when he appears, we will be like him because we will see him as he is. And everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself just as he is pure.

1 John 3:2-3 (CSB)

So the moment that we actually are a completed work of His hand is coming and we will be fully ‘Christian’, “we will be like Him“!

So in this regard, we can and should be His Disciple today.

A Disciple isn’t necessarily a mirror image of their Master, but they seek to do what the Master does and be as the Master is.  This isn’t an event that transpires at the end of a process, it is a process that we continue throughout our time here until we are at His feet. When we will know Him as He knows us.

A Disciple of Christ never actually reaches full completeness until that Disciple is in the presence of Jesus Himself. Until that time, the act of being His Disciple  means that we are going to study what our Master Jesus tells us and does and then do our very best to abide by, understand, make our own, and pattern after Him in any way shape or form we can conceive of or is revealed to us.

So, Why Do We Find it Difficult 

Being a Disciple, following Christ our Master and using Him as a template for our behavior, must bring us to the understanding that we need to:

A. Listen to what He tells us
B. Apply it to our lives
C. Pattern our behavior after His
D. Trust in Him for all provision and understanding.
E. Yield to His will for us.

There are perhaps four things that stand out most to me when we are doing these things:

A. We must Love as He Loves
B. We must forgive as He forgives.
C. We must share His Good News to others
D. We must make Disciples of those who trust in Him for the forgiveness of sin.

Since Discipleship is a continuous process for us.  My understanding of these four things is subject to the enlightenment that He provides through His Holy Spirit, living in me.

So, why is it then that we find it so difficult to witness the Good News to those we know? Why is it that despite being aware of who Christ is, His call to us to spread His Word, and the fact that His spirit is in us and guiding us, we hesitate to tell our story and HIStory to those who are lost and certainly on a fast-moving freight train into the darkness.

Why

Let’s repeat this passage.

“I will not leave you as orphans; I am coming to you. In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me. Because I live, you will live too. On that day you will know that I am in my Father, you are in me, and I am in you.”

John 14:18-20 (CSB)

Why is it, when we have God’s Spirit living in us, when we surrendered our will to His will, when we have been given every assurance that He will not leave us as orphans, we can be reluctant to the Spirits call to us to approach someone. Why is it that often times our familiarity with people makes this even more difficult for us?

What we came up with collectively as a group last night were these things:

1. Fear – Straight up, we are fearful of:

A. what this person might think of us.
B. our inability to properly convey our experience or the Gospel.

2. Love – We don’t love enough.
3. Urgency – It may not be urgent for us to share with them because:

A. The danger isn’t imminent or real enough to us.
B. We suffer from unbelief.

Let me touch on each of these quickly.

Fear of what this person might think of us.

This is perhaps one of the most common ‘reasons’ that we have.

It is important that we realize that we have given our lives to Christ Jesus and our lives are no longer our own.

I have been crucified with Christ, and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

Galatians 2:20 (CSB)

If we truly have died to the old self and been resurrected in Jesus, then this body isn’t under the control of me, I have yielded to Him and the fear of rejection or scorn isn’t mine if there is any it is to Christ and Him alone.

Fear of our inability to properly convey our experience or the Gospel

because it isn’t you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father is speaking through you.

Matthew 10:20 (CSB)

Do you recall the passage where we are told that the Holy Spirit interprets our prayers to God’s heart? (Romans 8:26-27)

When we are under the influence of the Holy Spirit and the Spirit has called us to a Devine appointment with someone, our words are not necessarily going to be what this individual hears in their heart.

We commonly think of the Holy Spirit as our interpreter to God the Father, but He’s far more skillful than to be limited to that task. Here in Matthew 10, Jesus is telling his disciples not to be concerned about what to say when brought before authorities, because the Holy Spirit will give them the words.

In the same way, not only our words but the expression of our heart will flow through to the interpretation of those words by the individual will be in accordance with God will.

This doesn’t make every witnessing encounter a win for the Kingdom.  The Spirit must call to an individual and open their eyes to the truth of the Gospel before they can accept what is being given to them.

But it is not us, it is Him.

Love – We don’t love enough

We talked about if we really love someone enough to share with them.

It is possible that we don’t. We sighted two things last night that are perhaps the hardest things to pattern after the example of Jesus, to forgive as He forgives and to love as He loves.

Therefore, as God’s chosen ones, holy and dearly loved, put on compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another if anyone has a grievance against another. Just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you are also to forgive.

Colossians 3:12-13 (CSB)

“This is my command: Love one another as I have loved you.”

John 15:12 (CSB)

If this is the case then this is somewhere that we need to focus on in our own lives.

We talked about ways to love someone that is unlovable. The consensus was that perhaps the best way to ‘learn’ to love them is to pray goodness toward them. It’s hard to despise someone that your praying blessings on.

Then too, committing ourselves to extend gestures of kindness and compassion also help to foster our ability to love those who may not seem like they deserve love to us.

The bottom line is that our hearts determine our ability to have a love for people. If we see we are falling short when our attention should come back to our relationship with God, and the condition of our heart.

Not urgent because the danger isn’t imminent or real enough to us

I heard a scenario given in a talk someone was having. I can’t recall where or who it was or I would give them proper credit for this.  But imagine this:

We are in a building and suddenly a fire breaks out. We try to help put out the flames but it becomes abundantly obvious that extinguishing this fire is futile given what you have at your disposal.
So you and the others in the building escape the flames and break through the front door, to cross the street in safety.
As you watch the smoke billow out of the upper windows of the building you hear a strange tapping just to your right and you look to see what it is.
A person who is obviously blind with their cane is tapping their way along oblivious to the burning building on the opposite side of the street that THEY ARE CROSSING!
It is apparent that this person is intending to enter that building to their peril.

What do you do?

The answer is pretty simple if your like the majority of us you’d do whatever it took to stop the individual an prevent them from entering that structure.

You see, the danger is real to you, it is imminent, and your commitment is secure, you will inform this person of the peril they face if they continue.

Now, you have to ask yourself, it the loss of souls every minute to the pit of hell not real enough to you?

Not urgent because we suffer from unbelief.

Then there is a sad possibility that we simply don’t see the flames coming out of that building. We are blinded by our own self-interest and busy with our own affairs.

This indeed would be a sad commentary for the developing Christian.

Not Scared

For all the reasons we could come up with, God has a solution to remedy the issue. The transformation of our hearts and minds or understanding just what is at stake.

The bottom line if you want to be a part of fulfilling The Great Commission, you’re going to need to become a firefighter. There is no cause to be intimidated or afraid because the one who hung on the Cross to bear our sins has infused His Spirit in us and there is nothing we can’t do under His power in us.

So you can say with confidence, I’m Not Scared!

Blessings,
kip…


 

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