Andrew Hughes | Category: The Christian Life, Mission
Last month, Three Rivers Grace had the privilege of hosting a Free-Sale event at our church facility. [You can check out pictures here.] Basically, it was a yard-sale type event, except everything was free. We invited the community out to both give away things and also take what they needed. The turnout was overwhelmingly tremendous!
Some might be wondering though, "Is it enough to just serve people's physical needs?" Or, "Do you think that the church's example of love and mercy is what will win people over?" Or, "Isn't our focus supposed to primarily be on proclaiming and telling others the good news?"
One individual stopped me and attempted to give some money during the Free-Sale, asking "Can I give you a donation?" When I responded, "No, everything is totally free," their response was simply, "Why?" I was then able to explain that we are compelled by Christ's love for us and we want to serve and bless those around us now. The physical need/outward expression had provided an opportunity then and there to speak of Christ.
It's one thing for us to tell someone that their lives are spiritually broken and that they need the love and mercy of Christ, which they may or may not yet recognize. But it is altogether another thing to give them that same message in the context of visually and tangibly meeting them in their physical brokenness/need, displaying unconditional love and mercy. While Jesus' miracles and healings never just themselves won people over, they were a way in which many people tangibly saw the beauty of Christ and the healing and forgiveness He offered spiritually.
We all know that in real life, it is not just what you say to people but also how you say it that impacts them. If I scream at you and then say, "I love you," you won't believe me. Unfortunately, in an effort to hold true to the Gospel as fundamentally a message (which it indeed fundamentally is) that needs to be proclaimed, we can sometimes unintentionally communicate "Do as I say, not as a I do."
This is why both Jesus and the apostles always connected the proclamation of the Gospel message tightly to the practice of Christ-likeness. Notice the language of attraction that Jesus uses here in the Gospel of Matthew: “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven (Matthew 5:14-16).
Paul tells Titus that some "profess to know God, but they deny him by their works" (Titus 1:16). A person's practice often speaks just as powerfully as their profession and words. This is why Paul admonished the church to watch their lives so that the message of the Gospel/word of God not be slandered (Titus 1:5), that they guard their message of Christ as well as their model of good works (Titus 1:7), and that they "adorn" the teaching of Christ (Titus 1:10). Can you really make the message more attractive by the way you live? That might sound arrogant, but Paul and Jesus both say it's true!
As soon as we begin to minimize the importance of modeling the Gospel over messaging the Gospel, we have started down a path that, at best, truncates the beauty of Christ and, at worst, contradicts the very message we're giving. So, let's do both: message the Gospel with our lips and model the Gospel with our lives.
The purpose of our church blog is to serve the overall mission of our church: to delight in the beauty of God's greatness,