Beginning in Jerusalem

November 11, 2009 at 1:32 am (Articles, Godly Living) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

beginning in Jerusalem

Posted by Abigail

Shortly after writing “Gulping Raw Eggs,” April and I stopped to get gas at the Wal-mart station. Who do you suppose was manning the late night counter but the Wal-mart greeter who had stopped me and asked me so many questions about the Lord so long ago? And she had something to tell me. “My Christian birthday is October 23rd!” And she bounced up and down. As we talked, I could tell that, Christian or not, she still needed a lot of truth! For an hour she pelted us with hard questions and we left feeling overwhelmed. At least we know, now, where to find her and we know her mind is still on eternity. Making disciples doesn’t stop with handing out tracts or a quick testimony, or even a great conversation!

Just like modern Christianity encourages lifestyle evangelism, it also encourages relationship evangelism. Relationship evangelism defined as becoming friends with unbelievers and spending time with them “hanging out” and hopefully an opportunity will arise for you to invite them to church. Do we ever consider how our unsaved friends may feel the day they discover they are our “projects?” All this time they thought we were just good ol’ pals and now this new element? And what if they just aren’t interested in spiritual things? Then what happens to the relationship?

The truth is, both thoughts are rooted in powerful truth, but the truth is often lost in the fear of offense. Lifestyle evangelism is important if it means that our lives reflect the gospel and give us opportunity to share it. Live in obedience and be ready to give an explanation for it! Relationship evangelism is important if we recognize that we ought to seek opportunities to develop eternal relationships. Share the gospel with those closest to us and be ready to develop a relationship if there is a response.

When Jesus gathered His followers together before His ascension to the Father, He told them, “All authority has been given to Me. Therefore, as you go, make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I’ve commanded you, and I am with you!” He reminded them that the authority came from Him. That as they went out from Him, they were to make disciples—not just share the gospel, but teach them to observe all that Christ commanded. To accomplish this, we must add both lifestyle and relationship into the equation.

It’s a bit daunting to consider, but Christ Himself laid down a battle plan for us. He told His group of faithful followers, “You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you shall be my witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.” If you draw a map of this battle plan, you’ll discover something of a target, with Jerusalem in the center. Fanning out from that is the next area of target: Judea. Then Samaria. Then the remotest parts of the earth. Jesus had gathered His followers together in Jerusalem and told them this simple strategy: “Begin where you are.”

When Lauren and Nathaniel first moved to Tulsa, the neighborhood in which they landed wasn’t their ideal location. But as Lauren settled in and began to meet her neighbors, she discovered something: it was her perfect Jerusalem. She had several Hispanic neighbors who were eager to work on their English and help her with her Spanish. And a widow lady next door was a huge encouragement and blessing! Then came the Jehovah’s Witnesses to her door. With a huge grin on her face, she invited them in and began to share the gospel. Without even leaving home, she had a perfect opportunity for evangelism—lifestyle, relationship and simply sharing the gospel. She shared with me recently the exciting story of a neighbor who had moved away. Recently the man contacted Nathaniel to meet him for lunch—and shared how he had met the Lord. “I didn’t even feel like we were good neighbors,” Lauren told me, but this man had wanted them to know because of their outreach to him and his family.

As godly women, I don’t believe the Lord expects us to be heading up missionary journeys like Paul and Silas. He doesn’t expect us to dive into safaris at the furthest corners of the earth—at least not yet. Jim Elliot wrote in his journal, “Wherever you are, be all there.” Wherever you are, that’s your Jerusalem.

Keith Green, who stirred up the church with songs before I was born, wrote, “The world is sleeping in the dark that the church just can’t fight ‘cuz it’s asleep in the light! How can you be so dead, when you’ve been so well-fed? Jesus rose from the dead! And you? You can’t even get out of bed!”

As I challenge you, I challenge myself. Begin in your Jerusalem. Live in light of Christ, yes. Love in light of Christ, absolutely. And be Christ’s witnesses. As I look around me, I know I am surrounded by needy unbelievers–asleep in the darkness. I must live a life that shines like a beacon in the night. And I must stretch out my hands to offer them love and care. And I must tell them why.

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1 Comment

  1. Emily said,

    good stuff – so true

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