The View From 1776

Taking Risks

To become messengers of the Gospel, we have to move outside our comfort zones.

Eric Lubbert, one of our church’s Elders, preached the sermon Sunday at the Black Rock-Long Ridge Congregational Church, in North Stamford, Connecticut.

Speaking of his own experience, Mr. Lubbert noted that it’s too easy in our Christian lives to become comfortable, to settle into a routine of going to church on Sunday, and going little farther than that.  If, however, we are to heed Jesus’s command, we must break out of those comfort zones and take risks to bring the Good News to our family, friends, and co-workers.

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.  (Matthew 28:18-20)

That doesn’t mean that we must stand up and preach to others in every gathering.  It does mean that we must both be open to opportunities, and be prepared to witness in appropriate ways: invite people to attend Sunday services and special functions at church; invite new church visitors to dinner at your home; tell them about the positive difference that Christ has made in your life. 

Above all, live a decent, kind, thoughtful life in which you think first, not of your own self-interest, but of what is the just, kind, and civilized way to deal with other people.

Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.  In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.  (Matthew 5:15-16)

What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.  (James 2:14-17)

Nothing will happen until you, figuratively speaking, put your feet into the water.  As in the Book of Joshua, when the Israelites were preparing to cross the Jordan, at flood stage, to claim the Promised Land:

And the LORD said to Joshua, “Today I will begin to exalt you in the eyes of all Israel, so they may know that I am with you as I was with Moses.  Tell the priests who carry the ark of the covenant: ‘When you reach the edge of the Jordan’s waters, go and stand in the river.’   (Joshua 3:7-8)

And as soon as the priests who carry the ark of the LORD -the Lord of all the earth?set foot in the Jordan, its waters flowing downstream will be cut off and stand up in a heap.  (Joshua 3:13)

Give control of your life to the Holy Spirit, which empowered the Disciples to go forth and speak effectively to all sorts of people.

How can we do this?

?  Ask God to fill us with the Holy Spirit;

?  Ask God for boldness;

?  Write a prayer list of people and expend the time and energy to get to know them, their needs and fears, and ways that you can help them;

?  Conduct a Bible study with your spouse and your children;

?  Be available to help people when their needs arise; look for opportunities to help;

?  Serve people; follow the example Jesus set when the Apostles asked who would be ranked highest in the Lord’s Kingdom; in response, Jesus washed their feet to make the point the he who is highest must humble himself and become a servant.

?  Discover and use the gifts that God has given you; employ them to the glory of God;

?  Listen for the voice of God, those sudden intuitions or inspirations to help someone that pop into your mind; heed God’s messages.