I was privileged last night to speak at our Church, Point Of Mercy, on the subject of Witnessing. The following are my notes from that lesson. I pray that it will be a blessing to you.
“Isn’t it funny how day by day nothing changes, but when you look back, everything is different…” – C.S. Lewis
5 Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time.
6 Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.
2 Peter 3:18
18 But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.
To start tonight, I’d like to read a quote by C.S. Lewis, a Christian writer who wrote some very practical things about our everyday walk with God. I want to read it now, but return to it at the end of the lesson. I think you’ll see why as we go forward.
Smart Watches are in the news a lot right now with the Apple Watch coming out. These combinations of fitness trackers and time keepers are interesting. My friend has one of the Samsung models, and it’s very impressive. What’s even more impressive is that God had something similar in place thousands of years ago.
I believe that God made two watches, one to prophesy of Global events, and the others to publish The Gospel. I believe the nation of Israel is the global watch, and the Church, the body Of Christ is the other. Israel’s hand is on the hour, pointing to the age of prophecy we are in. The Church’s hand points to the minutes that are ticking away. We have only a short time left to win souls before the alarm sounds!
As Christians, there are certain statistics we need to track that reflect both our own progress, as well as our influence in the lives of the unchurched. Two of these levels are our growth in Grace and in Knowledge. Grace is described in these verses as the Divine Influence upon the heart. How are we allowing God to influence us, and how are we allowing Him to use us to influence others?
Knowledge is the second gauge, specifically the Knowledge Of Christ. This isn’t only about what He did, but it’s also about how He interacted with others. To know Him, is to imitate His movements. To reflect Him, we must allow our light to reach out to those in darkness. To watch Him, is to walk like Him. To walk like Jesus, is to walk where He walked, into the same areas of life that He did.
The way we track these two levels come from two primary sources, our relationship with God, and our relationship with our fellow men. Particularly those who are not yet believers, how do we affect them, how do they affect us?
These smart factors, if you will, are exercise and walking meters with God and man. Tracking our relationship with God, in many ways, is easier. We are working with a Perfect person. When we are tired, He understands. If we have a bad day, He gets it.
What about those who don’t? Your co-workers, those family members who aren’t in Church, how would they gauge our Christian walk? The gauge of a Great Christian Witness is the influence that we have on non-believers.
As Christians, we are called to be like Jesus, one writer called it imitating Christ. This isn’t an impersonation of him, no more than when a famous musician gives music lessons. His students do not mimic him, but they do echo him. To be like Jesus, we must walk not only where He walked, but how He walked, and into the situations that He journeyed into.
If I gauge my walk by how I present Jesus to those around me, what would they say? If you asked my Supervisor, would she say I was patient, or would she say I get impatient? Would she say that he is caring, or abrupt? These are very painful, but valid questions that we must at least ask ourselves.
3 Ways We Track Our Growth In Grace And Knowledge:
1. Be Intentional:
One meaning of the word is to stretch your mind towards an object. In other words, to mentally draw close to something. You can get close to someone or something physically and still not be committed to it. Are we committed to those people we see everyday? Do we actively invest in their future? You can’t be intentional and not be committed.
In watchmaking any feature, other than telling time, is called a complication. What we call a feature, watchmakers call a complication. In reaching others, we will be called upon to stretch ourselves. These complications will reveal to others what is on the inside of us.
We will call these things complications, even trials, but God will use them as features to reach others. That’s why the series Pastor just took us through on our GPA is so valuable. We must pass the tests, not only for ourselves, but for others. How can they know what they can survive, if we haven’t in some way modeled it to them?
Ironically, the closer we intentionally draw to Jesus, the more intentional we’ll be about investing in others. “Growing is incidental, growing in something is intentional.”The more we seek to Grow in Grace and Knowledge, the more the effect of that growth will be evident to those around us.
Comedy writer’s fortunes depend on making people laugh. The story is told how the writers of the Sid Caesar show, known as “The Show Of Shows” spent hours arguing about the funniest number to use in a skit. Thanks to the comedian Imogene Coca, they decided upon the number 32. It may sound silly and unnecessary, but that particular show ran ten years. How much thought do we put in our conversations with unbelievers?
2. Seek Their Welfare:
Kindness is always appropriate, intrusion is not. There is a balance between the two, that’s why Simon Peter said to grow in Grace and in Knowledge. Everything in life has to be balanced. A great leap forward in accuracy occurred in watchmaking in 1657 with the addition of the balance spring to the balance wheel. You’ve got to balance the way you reach out to other people.
Caring for others and being creepy are two very different things. God called us to be walkers in others lives, not stalkers. A simple way of doing this, is by just being a friend. If someone is your friend, it’s natural to care about them, to care about what they’re going through.
They tell me that when you take a class on owning a gun, they don’t only teach you how to shoot, but when to shoot. More importantly, they teach you when not to, and that the majority of the time, it’s not the time to use your weapon. Learn when to ask about what they’re going through, and when to wait for them to share.
Listen to them, take mental notes about what they tell you. You’re not spying on them, but you should be retaining what they say. The people you come in contact with everyday are your Ministry. They are who you are called to reach, to enhance, and to add value to where and whenever possible.
The word add in 1 Peter 1:3 comes from a Greek root word that means Chorus Leader. According to history, to be part of a Greek Chorus meant that you were dancing to a song. It was said that the orchestra in which the chorus performed was literally it’s dance floor.
Why is that important? Dancing requires rhythm, knowing the steps, and grace. You have to first learn the beat, then the moves, then you practice how gracefully you perform the dance.
The role of a Greek Chorus was to explain the motives and themes of the play to the audience. They were the bridge between the world on stage, and the one in the stadium. We must know the plot to explain the role of The Savior in the lives of the unbelievers.
3. Walk through their cities:
- Chorazin – Furnace Of Smoke
- Bethsaida – House Of Fish
- Capernaum – House Of Comfort
Jesus walked into cities, He didn’t invade, He didn’t push, He made Himself available. He advertised His presence, then waited for an invitation. Once received, He accepted and gave more than they ever imagined!
In Matthew 11:20-23, Jesus referred to having walked and healed throughout the cities of Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum. Chorazin means village of smoke, the others mean house of fish and village of Comfort. He walked into their problems, their jobs, and their recreation!
Jesus was a friend to Publicans and Sinners. He walked into their issues, blessed their businesses, and had dinner with them. Simon Peter was so affected by God blessing his business that He said, “Lord, I’m not worthy, depart from me for I’m a sinner.” After three and a half years though, when later the same draught of fishes happened, he ran towards The Voice on the shore, and not a way from it.
Commentators don’t know which works were done in Chorazin, it’s only mentioned by name in Matthew 11. What we do know, is without going into detail, Jesus was there for them. When someone trusts you, as much as possible make sure you honor their trust.
There is a painting that is so relevant to Chorazin, the furnace of smoke. It’s of a fireman and his son sitting in Church. At the front of the Church is a stained glass window, it has the three Hebrew Children and God standing in the fiery furnace together.
Then and now, He stands in people’s furnaces of trouble, the difference is today He does it through us. Who’s furnace have you stood in lately? Who’s tears have you wiped? Who have you made laugh that was sad? It may not seem like much, but before Jesus ever saved Zacchaeus’ soul, He made Him happy, He gave his mind rest, and then He was Rest to His soul!
The last city He mentioned was Capernaum, the village of comfort. Jesus brought comfort to a world of sin, are we doing the same to the world around us? We must echo Jesus’ voice to the world, broadcasting the hope of The Gospel with love and mercy.
If we are following the pattern of Jesus, then we must lead those we walk with on as far as He led them. Sadly, for a lot of people this isn’t Calvary. He appeared to people after His resurrection that were not at Calvary, but many of them found Calvary after this. The point is, you and I don’t have to save them, just walk before them.
After we’ve walked with them for a while, we do need to reflect Jesus to them. That doesn’t mean attack them, it means to reflect His light. When they ask questions, and many will, be ready to give an answer.
Finally, no matter who it is we walk with, we and they will end up together at Bethany. Bethany means two things, the House Of Misery, and the House Of Dates. You will come to a crossroads with everyone you know.
Jobs end, relationships change, but at some point in time, you will say goodbye. This doesn’t necessarily mean Eternity, you don’t know who The Lord will have to hand off that person to. I’ve come in contact with people where I was just the next person that God had placed in their path.
The question is this, how will you leave them? Will it have been a productive relationship, have you added value to their lives? Or did the relationship go sour? If so, was it our fault? I’ll admit that I haven’t always handled things the way that I should have, but we must strive to leave people better than we found them.
Did they get a glimpse of Jesus in us? If you found your friend an atheist, did you at least leave him with doubts? We don’t have to save the world, but we must impact their world. If you do not reach them, but your influence reaches someone around them you may never meet, then you’ve made a difference!
C.S. Lewis Quote
The quote I read at the beginning of the lesson refers to the changes of time. You might not notice them right away, but over time you’ll look back to see incredible changes. If you are caring for others, you are making an impact. You are making a difference in their lives.
This lesson isn’t meant to say otherwise, but to rather encourage you to walk further in your journey with God and man. Smart watching, if you will, looking for those times where you can notify or remind someone who is hurting that Jesus cares, and so does His Church.