Going into All the World, Especially Our Own Community

Going into All the World, Especially Our Own Community

Most everyone knows the Great Commission, and every Christian should certainly know that mission that the Lord left for the church as He ascended back to His place in glory. In Matthew 28:18-19, Jesus famously said to His disciples, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations. . . ."

The challenge for most of us is actually being obedient to this call to make disciples of all the nations. I mean, most of us are not going to travel the globe and share the Gospel. Now, many of us do support foreign missionaries, through the church and/or independently. That is a great ministry, but it doesn't seem to completely fulfill the call on everyone of our lives to be an active part of making new disciples. So, how are we able to take a more active role in disciple-making?

Let me suggest that we ought to be sharing the Gospel here in our own communities and neighborhoods, workplaces and recreation centers. Along with opening our mouths and proclaiming the Christian message, we must seek to build bridges and open doors. Standing on the corner and shouting is most likely not going to be very effective. Thus, we must seek to foster relationships, serve the community, and show the love of Christ as we interact with others.

Of course, we expect this of one another individually, but we are also trying to provide opportunities to do these things as a church. For example, just in the past pew weeks, we have had a Prayer Walk for the Town of Rural Hall, and we are also serving the community on Saturday as we man a water station at Town Hall for the annual Flat & Fast 10K/5K hosted by the Rural Hall Area Business Association to support Rural Hall Elementary School for student programming and incentives.

The Prayer Walk, which several people supported, was a wonderful time of fellowship, exercise, and, most importantly, an opportunity to stand in the gap for our community before the throne of God while standing in the midst of our community. We hope to continue this special ministry into the New Year and possibly carry it out quarterly.

The water station this weekend will provide us the opportunity to meet new people, foster relationships, represent the church and Christ in the community, and serve the community selflessly.

My conviction is that these are the types of things that we need to be involved with in order to "build bridges" and "open doors" for the Gospel to advance in our own community and to make new disciples.

Loving Those Who are Hard to Love

Loving Those Who are Hard to Love
(Matthew 5:43-48)

There are some of us who may have had “enemies” at one time or another.  Maybe there are some who are “going to battle” with family or coworkers or neighbors even right now.  There are times when we can do the best we know how to get along with others, and, yet, there are some people who cannot help but pit themselves against us.  Jesus has taught us clearly, here, about how to handle those situations and adversaries.

However, I would say that most of us would not title anyone in our lives as an “enemy.”  And while we may not have enemies, we all certainly have at least a few people in our lives who make our job of loving them very difficult.  Let’s argue from the greater to the lesser, then.  If we are called on by our Lord Jesus to love our enemies, then we undoubtedly expected to love even those who only make it difficult.  I have experienced this situation numerous times as a family member, as a church member, and even as a pastor.  There are just some people who want to make everything difficult, including their relationship with you (and probably most everyone else in their lives).

Now, after setting the audience for these applications from Matthew 5, let’s go ahead and admit right up front- Hatred comes fairly easily to most people.  When operating in the old, sin-nature, a person’s gut reaction to persecution, misuse, or even the smallest resistance from someone is often to get angry, hold a grudge, gossip, seek revenge, or any of the like.  Love, alternatively, considers others, rather than just oneself.  Love involves both emotion and action toward others.  One writer put it well, “On the one hand, we are to be passive with an enemy, through nonretaliation.  On the other hand, we are to be active with our enemies through love” (Moore).  And another great quote on this subject says something like, “To return evil for good is devilish; to return good for good is human; but to return good for evil is divine” (Carson).

Of all the ways that we can practice love for others, prayer is one of the most loving things we can do.  Holding someone before the Father is a godly practice with practical value but also fulfills the commands of Scripture.  Prayer seems to be a great remedy for hatred.  How can you continue to hate a person for whom you diligently pray?  Also, I think that the Lord will consider our prayers and continue to work in the heart of the other person as well as in our own heart when we genuinely seek His will for our lives generally situations like these specifically.

So, after thinking about this passage briefly, we can conclude at least a few things: The passage applies to dealing with enemies and those who are hard to love; hatred is a default human reaction; but love is required from followers of Jesus; and one of the best ways to love those who are hard to love is to pray for them—regularly, specifically, deeply.