For what reason are Christians saved?
How can Christians be really effective in the World?
How should we reach out to the unsaved, then? Not speaking as an expert, or offering a quick-fit solution, it seems clear that it’s not just what we say, but how we say it and how we live our lives. We need to be able to back up our words with a living understanding, not just a head knowledge, of God and His scriptures, but we also need to be able to demonstrate a changed life, evidence of the Holy Spirit living in us. Philosophy can’t deliver you from life-long habits, only Jesus can. Good works may give you a sense of value, but won’t get you to Heaven, only Jesus can.
Our relationship to God needs to be consciously holistic. Prayer needs to become as natural as breathing or talking. Of course, God is a spiritual being, but we don’t need to be in “spiritual” places to speak to Him, or even being in a “spiritual” mood (otherwise many of us may never get to speak to Him!) This is not to say that we ought to be over-familiar to the extent of taking Him for granted, but simply to say that conversation and interaction is the oxygen for any developing relationship. You can never say too much to God, though of course we must make room for anything He may want to contribute to the conversation. And never forget Who you are speaking to; you may sometimes be irrelevant but you should never be irreverent.
Our worship should always simply be our individual response to the awesomeness of God and the incredible gift of salvation that He has given us. It’s not just something you do in response to the promptings of a worship leader. You can worship God with everything that is you, not just your singing voice. You can cry out to Him in exaltation; you can also worship Him in your creativity. Many moons ago I dedicated my writing talent to His Kingdom and since then I have always seen my writing efforts as my acts of worship. Your gifting may be different, perhaps through art, or pottery, or dance, or even sporting prowess. Give it all back to Him with a thankful attitude and that would be acceptable to the One who gave you these gifts. God has created us as mind, body and spirit and it is surely right for us to worship Him in mind, body and spirit.
We have been indoctrinated into the idea of this Greek secular/sacred divide, this separation of our lives into two compartments labelled, ‘this is me in Christian mode’ and ‘this is me everywhere else’. For too long many Christians have considered the two hours in the church building in my Sunday best clothes and behaviour as sufficient to earn brownie-points for Heaven, as the minimum entry-level requirement. This barrier needs to be consciously broken down by every Christian so that we truly live our lives 24/7 for God, as His missionaries to wherever He has put you. As churches we may send out missionaries to far-flung places, with promises of financial and prayer support, but we must consider ourselves too as missionaries to our school, our office, our family, our friends, our neighbours. It’s a battle-ground out there and many of us are defeated before we’ve even got started, because we’re not sure how to get started. The World is becoming a more and more frightening place for Christians, due to the relentless secularisation of western society and we need to be guided by what the Bible says. How are we meant to interact with the World?
(Jesus speaking) I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world.My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. (John 17:14-18)
We are sent into the World, guided by God’s truth, the Bible. We are to be salt and light and a bright shining witness, but we also need to know how far we can go, before we are sucked into the World’s ways and our witness diluted to such an extent that there is little difference between us and them.
You adulterous people, don't you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. (James 4:4)
This is surely one of the most frightening Scripture verses for those of us Christians who feel called to be witnesses within our western culture, whether it’s in the media, the arts, education, the legal system, science or politics. If our friendship leads to compromise, then we are not representing God in truth and have become an enemy of God. One way to ensure this doesn’t happen is to live, think and act Hebraically. That means our witness is not just what we say, but must be visibly undergirded by good relationships, good theology and good conduct. Then non-believers may disagree with what we are saying, because God’s truth will challenge them in uncomfortable ways, but at least they will see that we are living our lives in a way that is consistent with our message.
Finally, just stop and think for a bit. As I’ve said time and time again in these articles, these are not new revelations, just a nudge to get us back to a Biblical way of doing things, so that we can give back to God the very best that we have.
We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ's behalf: Be reconciled to God. (2 Corinthians 5:20)
Be good ambassadors.
For the previous article in this series, click here.
For the next article in this series, click here.
To find out what is my favourite book of the Bible, click here.
You can reach Steve with any comments or questions at the Saltshakers Web Community website.