Last week, I posted here about beginning a series of blog posts on discipleship. There are many reasons that we need to make sure that we are flexing our lives to see others love Jesus, especially since this is the explicit command of His (see Matthew 28:18-20), but our post last week reminded us through a simple story that if we don't make disciples then we forfeit serving and bringing the saving message of Jesus to eternal souls who are perishing. All in all, telling of the hope we have in Jesus isn't a matter of duty, it's a matter of being burdened for the lost, being obedient to Jesus, and being thrilled that we have such good news to tell.
In full disclosure, it's hard to write about discipleship. Some think that it's done in a programmed setting, like a small group or a Bible study over coffee with a friend, and others think that it needs to be more organic, like it's just a part of who you are and it happens naturally. I honestly think it is a healthy mix of the two. We should absolutely seek to have our lives speak very loudly about the hope we have in Christ, but if you are not keeping your antena's up and intentionally engaging others then you may be in shock to find that your 'holy glow' wasn't as effective as you thought it was. One's holy life should indeed bear witness about you, but it should be there to back up what you say more than being the entirety of how you communicate to a lost world.
So instead of offering a three simple steps plan, I just want to look through some texts and have them shape the way we live and engage the lost. Below is Romans 12 - the whole chapter. I just want to walk with you through and highlight some of the ways that it teaches us to engage the lost.
1 I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Before we think we can teach others to love Christ we must love Him ourselves. We should be holy, or set apart, because He is our treasure and nothing else. 2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. Our lives should be distinctly different. And not just different, but different in a way that honors the will of God. How is your life and family different from those around you? 3 For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. Many people think that Christians are just the morality police who are trying to enforce their beliefs on others. Let's approach the world with tears and hope rather than fists and daggers. 4 For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, 5 so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. 6 Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; 7 if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; 8 the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness. Each of us has different gifts. That's why there is not simple program to follow in helping others to love Christ, we all help do it in different ways. We need each other and the world needs all of us together to engage. How are you using your gifts? Do you know what they are? What are you going to do this week using your gifts to help others to know and come to love Jesus? 9 Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Prove to your family, co-workers and neighbors, anyone who you are trying to teach Christ to that your love and concern for them is genuine. Also make sure that you hate what is evil. Are you serious about your sin? Are you serious to guard yourself and your family from it's grip and lies? Do people think that you take your faith seriously? 10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. How many people in your life who don't believe in Jesus know that you love them dearly? How have you served and honored others lately? 11 Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Zeal and fervency are words of passion. Do people know that you are passionate about Jesus? It's the most amazing news in the universe, do we treat it as such? 12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. In good times and bad, how solid is your life? Always bring your life, your worries, and the needs of others to the Lord - He is always there to give strength. 13 Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. Share your life and blessings with others. 14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Live so radically different than the expectations of the world. You don't need to win an argument, you need to win their heart. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. How have you cared for someone who is rejoicing or hurting lately? Our hearts of pride don't naturally take much delight in the joy of others, how can you be more encouraging and empathetic? 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Telling people that they need Jesus is already hard enough, don't let them reject hearing the message because you are a proud and boastful person who they don't respect enough to listen to. 17 Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Serving, not ruling, is hard but glorious to behold. 19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, "Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord." 20 To the contrary, "if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head." 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. Taking our cue from Jesus, we are to serve people into the Kingdom, not argue with them or force them. - Romans 12
Be blessed by God's word. These words aren't meant to crush you under some expectation that you aren't meeting, they are meant to guide you as you depend on the Lord to shape you into a Romans 12 type person. I would encourage you all to read the chapter again and stop occasionally and ask God to bless you and make you more like what His word is calling for. He is faithful, and delights in glorifying Himself through us.