No one gets good news and thinks, “I can’t wait to keep this to myself!” So why should the Gospel be any different? Join us for a practical look at God’s playbook for changing the world as we find our part in His mission.
Often we think of evangelism – sharing the good news of Jesus – as having to start with bad news of where they are now. Thinking we have to convince people that they’re sinful. But that’s not where Jesus started. Jesus spoke good news to people who already knew life was bad. You are the one who can agree that life isn’t supposed to be like this and then share the good news of what God is doing to change that.
Craig: Well, hey, welcome to Mission Hills and this historic, historic moment, where for the first time in our 78-year history as a church, we are all gathering together live on campus rather than…or I’m sorry, live online rather than live on a campus. I know a lot of you join us every single week through our Online Campus, that’s awesome. Wherever you are in the world we consider you part of the Mission Hills family. It’s so good, actually, for all of us to be able to kinda gather together in the same space, live online right now.
And at…if you don’t know – my guess is, a lot of you do – but if you don’t know the reason that we’re doing that this weekend, is because we’re working really hard to care for our community and to cooperate with our government as they attempt to limit the spread of this Coronavirus thing, and so we’re all gathering together live online this weekend. We’ve suspended live, in-person, on-campus gatherings until we get the all clear, but I want you to know that’s all we’ve done. All we’ve done is suspend the live, on-campus gatherings. We haven’t canceled church, okay?
I actually got a whole buncha emails this past week from people going, “Are we canceling church?” I got texts, “Are we canceling church?” And I’m like, “You can’t cancel church.” As we say all the time here at Mission Hills, church isn’t a building we come to, it’s not a program we participate in, church is the people of God engaged in the mission of God, and you can’t cancel us, you can’t cancel the church. And so, you know, here, let us just do this – wherever you happen to be, maybe some of you in a coffee shop and this might be gettin’ a little bit weird for you, and maybe some of you are by yourself, it might feel weird.
Maybe you got a group of people around you. Well whatever it is, what we’re gonna do is, on three, I’m gonna count to three, and then we’re all gonna say together, “We are the Church” okay? Wherever you are, out loud – it’s gotta be out loud, come on – one, two, three, “We are the Church” We are the Church and it’s so, so, so important that we don’t forget that. Especially at this season, because the reality is, we have some unique opportunities in the midst of all the craziness going on with the Coronavirus.
In fact, here’s the thing – I really believe this is true – the Coronavirus hasn’t created a reason for fear, it’s created a season for a mission. It hasn’t created a reason for fear, but a season for mission. We have some unique opportunities to be on mission with Jesus right now, and more than any other time – this is always true, but it’s especially true right now – the mission and the opportunities that we have to seize those unique situations, unique circumstances for Jesus’ glory, those all are only gonna be seized because we do them. And when I say “we,” I mean us, the Church, okay?
This is always true, but it’s especially true right now. We’re not gonna seize these opportunities because the church has a program, we’re gonna seize these opportunities as the people who are the Church, okay? A lot of really unique opportunities, and I think it’s really important that we grab one of these opportunities. Here’s what’s unique about this season, right? We have good news, okay? We do. We have good news to share. In fact, our mission, really, is just this – the mission we’re talking about is to extend God’s influence in the world. That’s it. Our mission is to extend God’s influence in the world.
And the way we do that is by sharing the good news that we have. It’s by the good news that we have received, we’re gonna repeat that to others. That’s our primary tool for extending God’s influence in the world. Now, what is our mission? Well, we’ll talk about that in just a second, but here’s the important thing I want you to make sure you don’t miss right now, and it’s this – is that this good news that we have is going to sound like even better news right now to a whole lotta people. And here’s why – this is a really important truth, Church – good news gets even better when things are bad. Okay?
Good news gets even better when things are bad, right? That’s the reason why the Church is always grown furthest and fastest during those seasons when things were hard for people. Because reality is, when things going really well, a lotta people kinda lose track of the good news, honestly, right? I mean, when you’re just getting good news about your job, or you’re getting good news about your health, or good news about your kids, or good news about a relationship, or good news about the economy, or good news about the stock market, or whatever it is, when you’re getting good news, sometimes the good news of the Gospel can actually kinda fade into the background. It’s a tragedy, but it’s absolutely true, it absolutely happens.
But when things are bad, right? Suddenly the good news shines out all the brighter. And that’s why I say that good news gets even better when things are bad. And we are living in a season right now where there’s a whole lotta people around you who are really, really anxious for some good news because they’re tired of all the bad news, okay? Really, really, really need to take these opportunities to shine this good news right in the season when it’s gonna be most understood for exactly what it is. Right? And who doesn’t like sharing good news, right? Who doesn’t like sharing good news?
I mean, think about this, you find an amazing taco shop, what’s the first thing you do? You tell people about it, right? You go tell people about the taco shop. You be like, “It’s an amazing taco shop, they have amazing tacos.” And you don’t worry about what people think when you’re sharing that good news with them, right? I mean, I’ve never heard anybody go, “I don’t know. Like, what if they think I’m weird for liking those tacos? Or what if they think that, you know, just liking tacos of any kind is weird? What if they reject my taco shop? What if they won’t even try my taco shop? What if they do go to the taco shop but they didn’t really like the tacos there?”
“That would be terrible. What if I offend them because, you know, they’re really into burritos? And so I’m bringing tacos in, and maybe they’ll be ready offended. Or what if, what if – what if I’m so bad about sharing the good news about my taco shop that they decide that they don’t want anything to do with tacos ever again for as long as they live,” right?
We don’t do that. We just go, “Hey, I got good news. I don’t really care, honestly, what you do with it, but I gotta tell you about it,” right? We share good news, we love sharing good news. Which I think is what makes it so strange to me that so many followers of Jesus are hesitant to share the good news, the great news that we have of Jesus Christ. Of the life, the death, and the resurrection of Jesus and everything that that means for us. We’re hesitant to do that. In fact, Barna Research Group last year did a big study and what they found kinda stunned me, blew my mind.
What we found out was that 31% of all adult Christians, 31%, believe that it is wrong – not uncomfortable, not that it makes them nervous – they believe that it is wrong to share their faith with another person in the hopes that that person will come to share their faith. They think it’s wrong. It’s almost like the word “evangelism,” which is really just sharing of that good news of the Gospel, it’s almost like evangelism has become a bad word. Why is that? What’s happened? Here’s what I think – I think that for a lot of us we seem to think that sharing the good news of Jesus actually starts with sharing bad news.
That’s what I think has happened to a lot of us. We think that sharing the good news of Jesus actually has to begin with sharing bad news. Like we have to begin by sharing, “Hey, you know, I know you have faith in Buddhism, or you have faith in Islam. But you know what? That faith isn’t gonna save you,” and so we have to give them the bad news that their faith isn’t right. Or maybe we have to give ’em the bad news that their atheism is wrong, or maybe we have to start with the bad news that they’re not good enough on their own to make it into heaven, and we think we have to start there. We think we have to start with the bad news.
And nobody love…nobody, you know, hesitates to share good news but we really always hesitate to share bad news. Nobody wants to do that. And so of course if we think that sharing the good news of Jesus begins with sharing bad news, of course we’re going to be hesitant. But is that where it has to start? Is that really where sharing the Gospel begins? I don’t think so. Actually, I know it’s not because that’s not where Jesus started. And why don’t you go ahead and grab a Bible? We’re gonna be in the Gospel of Matthew today, Chapter 6 starting in verse 35.
Now as you’re making your way there…I’m sorry, Matthew Chapter 9, verse 35. If you’re kinda new to the Bible, Matthew is one of four books in the Bible called the Gospels. It’s the good news books, the four books that tell the good news of the life, the death, and the resurrection of Jesus Christ. And Matthew Chapter 9, verse 35 says this – this is from early in Jesus’ ministry – says, “Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness.” Healing every disease and sickness.
Couple things I wanna point out. First one is just that it says that “he came preaching good news,” okay? Good news. Now, as many of you may know, this may be news to some of you, but the Bible wasn’t originally written in English. Matthew wasn’t originally written as English, it was written in Greek. It was the most common language in the ancient world. And in Greek, the…there is a word for “good news,” and I’m gonna throw it up in Greek, we’re gonna throw up…this is the Greek letter and it’s gonna look a little bit strange, it looks like this, and in the way you say that is “εὐαγγέλιον,” okay?
Now, just bear with me for a second, and some of you are gonna love this and some of you are gonna be like, “What is happening?” This is gonna be kinda cool. That’s the Greek word for “good news,” εὐαγγέλιον. Now, if we transliterate all the letters from Greek into the Latin letters, which is what English still uses, it’s gonna look like this. Can we drop that up? Okay, it looks like “εvαγγέλιον,” that “U” lookin’ thing, an upsilon, turned into a “V” lookin’ thing, or a “V” because that’s what we use it in English, so εὐαγγέλιον turns into “εvαγγέλιον.” And here’s another interesting thing that happens – in Greek when you got two “G” sounds together, one of them turns into an “N” sound, which becomes “εvαnγγέλιον.”
Now if that looks familiar – it should – because that’s the root of our word “evangelism,” and it literally just means “telling good news,” okay? So evangelism is “telling someone good news.” That’s all it is. Evangelism is telling someone good news. Now, good news of what? What does Jesus say? It says, “Jesus went through all the towns and the villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom,” right? It’s the good news of the kingdom. Now, we don’t talk a lot about kingdoms today, right? We talk about nations, we talk about countries, and there’s a big difference between nations and kingdoms, right?
Okay, you know, nations are places where people live, kingdoms are where kings reign. That’s what a kingdom is. It’s where the king reigns. In fact, let’s say it this way – a kingdom is the place and the people under a king’s reign, under his rule, under his authority, under his influence. That’s what a kingdom is. And Jesus came proclaiming the good news of the kingdom – meaning, of God’s kingdom. Okay? Now, here’s the interesting thing – that was good news because the world hasn’t…had not been experiencing God’s reign for a long time.
And some of you might go, “Well what are you talking about? I thought got reigned over everything. I thought God was the sovereign King of the whole universe,” right? And yes – but also, no. I mean, yes, God is the sovereign King over all things, he absolutely is. But God, in his humility – and I know that might seem like a strange word to use for God, but I don’t know how else to describe it – God, in his humility, chooses not to exercise that authority on people who have rejected it. Let me say that again. God, in his humility, chooses not to exercise his authority on people who have rejected us…it.
And that leads us to the…kinda the big picture story of the whole Bible, okay? I’m gonna summarize the entire Bible in three simple points. The first one is just this – God created us to live in his kingdom where everything was good, okay? That was the plan. God created us to live in his kingdom, under his reign, where everything was good, because God is good, so, of course, life under God’s reign is going to be good for us in every respect. There was nothing unhappy, there was nothing sick, there was nothing dying, there was no pain, there was no suffering – it was all good.
It was all meaning, and significance, and hope, and joy, and all those things, okay? God created us to live in his kingdom where everything was good. But, we rebelled. This is the point in number two, we rebelled against God’s good influence, and everything went had. We rebelled against God’s good influence, and everything went bad. That’s when sickness, and disease, and death, and despair, and hopelessness, and pain, and struggle, and suffering – that’s when all of it came in, because all those things, that we have a word for them, and that word is “evil.” But understand, evil is not a thing, evil is actually an absence of good. Right?
In same way that dark is just the absence of light, evil is the absence of good, and so what happened is, Adam and Eve and every human being since then – you and I too, we all do it – we basically, we rejected God’s authority over us. his reign. And we’ve said, “Hey, God, I appreciate the life and everything, but I think I’ll take it from here. From now on, I’ll call the shots for my own life.” And so we have rebelled, we have rejected God’s good influence, and into that gap moved in all this bad stuff, okay?
But, and this is point number three, God kept loving us. In spite of our rebellion, God kept loving us, so he’s bringing the kingdom back into the world. That’s the good news. God kept loving us, so he is bringing the kingdom back into the world. Now I want you to notice what Jesus did when he came proclaiming that good news. It says, “Jesus went through all the towns and the villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness.” And healing every disease and sickness. It’s so interesting, right?
So basically, what…we pushed God’s influence out of the world, and sickness and death and all that bad stuff began to move into that space, and when Jesus came announcing that the kingdom was coming back into the world, Jesus began to push all that bad stuff back out. That’s what he’s doing. He’s healing every or every kind of disease and sickness. He’s giving the people a taste of what life under the reign of God is supposed to look like. Right? Now, notice he didn’t start by telling people, “Hey, you really understand that the reason you have sickness? Do you know that the reason that there is disease around, you know it’s because you’re sinful?”
He didn’t start there. Right? What Jesus did was, he started with the good news of the kingdom and with healing, because listen, Jesus started with good news, because they already knew the bad news. They already knew the bad news. They already knew what life was like apart from the kingdom. And they may not have understood why it was like that, but they knew what it was like. There was no question in their minds that things were bad, right? So Jesus was able to start with the good news because they already knew the bad news.
Now, I’ve got a radical thought. It’s a radical idea, I know this is gonna blow your minds, but what if…what if we did what Jesus did? What if you just followed his example? And what if we started by sharing good news with people who kinda knew the bad news already? The people who are kinda looking around, goin’, “This is hard. Life is difficult. There is all this pain and all these bad things and this uncertainty, and I just don’t understand. Is this how life is supposed to be? It doesn’t feel like it. It doesn’t feel like life is supposed to be like this. Is this how life was supposed to be?”
And what if, for those people, we said, “Hey, it’s not. Life isn’t supposed to be like that. You’re right – life isn’t supposed to be like this. And God’s doing something about it”? What if that’s where we started? Because that’s where Jesus started. What if that’s where we started? What if we said to those people who knew how hard life was, “Hey, here’s the good news – life isn’t supposed to be like this. But God is doing something about it”? That’s evangelism. That’s sharing the good news. It’s sharing the good news with people who already know the bad news, “Hey, you’re right, life isn’t supposed to be like this, but God is doing something about it.”
Now you might go, “Well hang on a second, I…it feels kinda soft. I mean, where is the sin business? Where do we talk about that?” And listen, don’t get me wrong, we have to deal with sin at some point, because the reality is that the world is the way it is because of our sin, okay? It’s the cause of our rebelling against God. And the truth of the matter is that nobody can ever fully experience life as God intended it until they do a few things. Number one, they have to acknowledge that they are sinful, okay?
They have to repent of it, they have to be willing to turn from it, and they have to accept the gift of forgiveness that Jesus purchased for us on the cross. They have to say yes to a relationship with him. And so at some point we all have to deal with sin if we’re going to come into a relationship with God and experience life as he intended it. But do we have to start there? Because it’s interesting, that’s not where Jesus typically started. He typically started with people who knew the bad news, and said, “Hey, life isn’t supposed to be like this, and God is doing something about it.”
Check this out, this is what Jesus was motivated by, it says this, “When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless like sheep without a shepherd.” Jesus wasn’t motivated by a desire to convince them that they were sinful, he was motivated by compassion to set them free from a life that God never intended them to live. He says, “They were harassed and harried” – I love this – “they were harassed and harried like sheep without a shepherd.”
Now I don’t know if you know anything about sheep, but sheep without shepherds, they’re not happy. They’re not experiencing the good life. Sheep need shepherds. Actually, I ran across this story not long ago, a friend of the…mine shared it with me. It’s a story about a sheep in New Zealand, his name was Shrek, Shrek the sheep, and he managed to get out of his pen, and he managed to sorta get away from the shepherd, and they couldn’t find him. He actually lived on his own for six years before they finally found the sheep.
And so, six years of living free of that cruel and mean shepherd who was always, you know, controlling him, and bossing him around, and telling him what to do. Six years he had that…this blissful freedom from that shepherd, and this is what Shrek looked like when they found him. Can we throw that picture up there? How crazy is that? I mean, that’s insane, right? That’s not a happy sheep. There is no possible way that’s a happy sheep, right? I mean, he can’t see. He can hardly see anything, he can only see the ground right in front of his feet, right? You can’t see what’s coming, he can’t look to the horizon, he can’t see, he can hardly walk. Right?
He’s a sitting duck for any predator that comes after him, he’s got all kinds of nasty stuff stuck to him. That’s not a happy sheep. But that’s what Jesus is talking about, that’s a sheep without a shepherd. That’s us living out from under the reign of a good and kind King. So listen, that’s what motivated Jesus, and it’s what has to motivate us. Evangelism has to be motivated by compassion. It has to be. It has to be motivated by compassion. And chances are pretty good that if evangelism sounds like a bad word to you, that if evangelism is a word that just makes you really uncomfortable, it’s probably because you have heard somebody share what they called good news, but they weren’t driven by compassion, they were driven by contempt.
They were driven by contempt for the people. Chances are, if you have a negative association with evangelism it’s because you’ve seen people doing it from contempt rather than compassion. It’s gotta be driven by compassion. You know, a couple years ago we entered into a season of prayer here at Mission Hills praying for God’s vision for the future of the church. And God doesn’t usually work this way with me, but an interesting thing happened. I was on the highway and the vision came to me.
Like, it just kinda fell into my head fully formed, that’s not the normal way God interacts with me, but I took that vision back to my executive team and we prayed about it for a while, and we said, “I think we need to go to the elder team.” We went to the elder team and we entered into a season of prayer around that particular vision, and the team decided unanimously that this was a vision from God, and the visual…we call it…is the “Front Range Vision” and Front Range Vision is to reach every lost person in the Front Range. To reach every lost person in the Front Range. And I’ll be honest, we wrestled a little bit with whether or not we should use the word “lost.”
We thought, well, that could come across negative or weird, but we chose to use it because it’s just a deeply biblical term. It’s a term that actually evokes compassion. For me at least, it’s compassion, because it’s about caring about those people who are living life outside of the reign of a good and kind and a loving God. I was actually on the highway, as I said, when that came to me, and I was on the highway and I was stuck in traffic. And I’m going to be honest – like, God and I don’t get close when I’m in traffic. I’m not a good Christian when I’m in traffic, I’m just going to be honest with you about that.
And this was a little bit of a different day, though, for me. I was in traffic, and we were kinda stuck at a standstill, and I was sorta looking around, and I don’t know, God, I think, began to move. And I was kinda looking in windows of cars and I was spyin’ on people, and I was noticing that there was just a lotta what looked like misery to me. There’s just a lotta people, they were tense, and they were anxious, they were upset, they just seemed really kinda on edge, and I felt like the Holy Spirit began to speak to me and say, “Hey, that’s not just because of the traffic situation. That’s life apart from the Kingdom of God. That’s what it’s like to live outside God’s reign and his rule.”
I really felt like the Holy Spirit began to say, “This is what it looks like for people to be harassed and harried like sheep without a shepherd.” And it was in that moment that this vision came to me, that we would be used by God to reach every lost person in the Front Range. It was driven by compassion for those people. Some of you may remember a few weeks ago I shared that we have a big dream for this year for 2020, it’s a big dream that’s gonna have…help us to make a big step towards that Front Range Vision, and the dream is that we would see 2020 people say yes to Jesus in this year. And I know that that sounds like a big number, and maybe even more importantly, it is a number.
And a number can sound kinda cold, a number can sound kinda corporate, but here is the way I see it: every number has a name, every name has a story, every story has an ending, and every ending has a sequel. Meaning, every story that comes to an end at death, and we’re all gonna face that at some point, every one of those stories has a sequel. It’s either gonna be spent in a relationship with God under a good King’s rule and reign, experiencing joy, and peace, and in happiness, and all those great things, forever. Or it’s going to be spent like a sheep without a shepherd, harassed and harried. Forever. Apart from a relationship with a good and loving God.
Every number has a name, every name has a story, every story has an ending, every ending has a sequel. And so this dream of seeing 2020 people say yes to Jesus, it’s all, 100%, it’s driven by compassion for people. And that’s what has to drive evangelism, it has to be driven by compassion. Check this out, Jesus said this, he said…and then he said to his disciples, this is verse 37, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.” The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Meaning, there’s way more people who need to hear, then, the good news than there are people actually giving the good news. Actually sharing the good news. So he said this, he said, “Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”
Ask the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into his harvest field. He said pray that God would raise up more people to share with all those who need to hear the good news, that life isn’t supposed to be like this, and God is doing something about it. And can I just tell ya’ that’s a sneaky prayer? Jesus just pulled a fast one there. Let me tell ya’ how that played out in my life – he snookered me, he got me in. Right? There is a certain season in my life where I was on the road a lot, there was a big book out that was makin’ a big splash, and some of you may remember it, it was called “The Da Vinci Code.”
A really interesting book, a lot of people reading the book, and it raised some significant questions about the reliability of the Bible, the identity of Jesus, and so I was being invited all over the country to speak and give Christians the answers to the questions people were asking. So I was doin’ that, and in about that season I also…I read this verse, and I felt this huge weight of relief, because, you know, I kinda grew up in a Christian environment and I was part of some ministries early in my life that were really big on doing evangelism, and I was never comfortable with it.
I was kinda shy, and so meeting a stranger and just talkin’ to him, that was a little bit weird. And then, you know, trying to share the good news, which always seemed to start with bad news about how they were wrong and sinful, that was hard. And so I’ve always felt a little bit of a guilt around evangelism, and maybe you have felt exactly the same thing, and I read this verse and I had this huge sense of relief. I was like, “Holy cow, Jesus doesn’t say that I have to share the good news, he just says that I have to pray that God would raise up people to share the good news. I can do that.” I was like, “Aww, that’s so good,” and so I decided to lean into this.
And so like I said, I was on the road speaking the subject about the time that I was leaning into this, and so I started doing this. I was like, “Okay, when I’m on the plane, when people sit next to me, I’m going to pray that for ’em.” And so I’d sit down on the plane and people would sit down next to me, and I…in my head I’d go,” Hey, Lord, I don’t know if this person knows you, but would you raise up somebody to share the good news with them?” And I felt really good about that, it was awesome.
And then I’d…you know, I’d get “The DaVinci Code” out, I’d get my laptop goin’ so I could work on my presentation for that next speaking engagement, and this is what started to happen over and over again – I’d get the book out and people would go, “Hey, are you readin’ that book? What do you think about that?” And I’d go,” Well, I…you know, I…I mean, it’s a good read, it’s a good story, but, you know, he got his facts wrong about Jesus in the Bible.” And they would go, “What do you mean? He got his facts wrong? Well what do you mean?” I was like, “I mean, are you asking me what the truth is about who Jesus is in the Bible?” And they were like, “Yeah, tell me.” And I was like, “Okay, Jesus, I see what you did there. I see.”
It’s a sneaky prayer. He says, “Ask the Lord of the harvest to raise up workers,” right? But the thing is, and I’ve discovered this over and over again in my life, the moment that I start asking for God to raise up people to do something, is the moment the Holy Spirit begins to kinda poke me and go, “Any possibility that you might be one of those people that He’s trying to raise up? I’m just sayin’, right?” It’s a sneaky prayer – but it’s so important. Jesus is kinda working every possible angle to get us ready to embrace this incredible opportunity we have.
Listen, we, you and I, we’re followers of Jesus, we are supposed to share the good news with people who already know that life isn’t supposed to be like this. We don’t have to convince ’em of that. We get to tell ’em the good news that God’s doing something about it. But we are supposed to be sharing the good news with people who already know that life isn’t supposed to be like this. So important. And listen to me, we’re in a very unique season. We’re in a unique season where people are feeling harassed and harried.
They’ve been to the supermarkets, they’re worried about getting the disease, they’re worried about how they’re gonna pay their bills, they’re worried about what they’re gonna do when they…when their kids are at home but they’ve gotta go to work and they depend on every paycheck. They’re worried about those things, they’re feeling harassed and harried, there’s just no way to miss it, and that provides a tremendous opportunity for us to speak the good news. This is why I say this isn’t a reason for fear, this is a reason, or this is a season for mission.
You are surrounded by people who are pretty anxious for some good news right about now, and you have it to give to them. So what’s stopping you? They already know, they already feel, they already sense life isn’t supposed to be like this. You get to tell ’em, “You’re right. And God is doing something about it. He loves you so much, He sent his own son to die for you. Three days later he rose from the dead, that’s a fact of history, and he’s offering you forgiveness and eternal life under the rule of a good and kind King. It’s eternal life that begins now, it changes life now, and for forever.”
You get to share that good news. So how do we do it? We’re gonna lean into that next weekend, okay? Next weekend we’re gonna talk about how to share the Gospel in a way that honors God, feels natural, and is authentically compassionate for the people that we’re talking to. So we’re gonna lean into that next week. But before we do that, I wanna to make sure that we don’t miss some of the opportunities we’re gonna have this week, and so I wanna talk just a little bit about some unique ways that we can begin being the good news that we have to share.
In fact, actually what I wanna do right now is, I actually wanna share a little bit of a news clip. I came across this news clip this morning, some of the staff sent it to me, it’s about a young woman in Highlands Ranch and she’s doing an amazing job of being on mission in this particular season. I want you watch this clip with me.
[news clip playing]
Laura Wilson: …was slim pickings in a few aisles at this King Soopers Friday night.
Alexa: This is crazy.
Laura Wilson: But Alexa Borrego says…she won’t stop until she finds everything on her grocery list.
Alexa: I’m going again at a later time when the stores are more stocked, and then some people around the community have left some grocery stuff on their porch for me.
Laura Wilson: She’s shopping for people affected by the Coronavirus, who are either too vulnerable to leave their home, or are suffering financial hardships. But with schools closing around Colorado, she says it’s mainly families with school-age kids that have been reaching out for help.
Alexa: I just put a post on Word of Mouth Highlands Ranch, and yeah, it kind of exploded and I got a buncha responses from people who were like, “Thank you so much for posting, we’ve really needed assistance.” I’m looking more at, like, kids meals, like mac & cheese, canned goods, veggies, canned fruits, that kinda thing.
Laura Wilson: So for the hardest items to find in stock have been bread, canned goods, and you guessed it, toilet paper.
Alexa: There was some bread, granted, but I could definitely use bread. But it’s really hard when people are stockpiling a buncha stuff.
Laura Wilson: This is one of at least 6 grocery trips she plans to take in the next 2 days, and 20 other volunteers have already jumped in to help.
Alexa: I don’t think we have to do massive things in the world, I just think that we need to do…each do a little bit of something. So to me, taking a weekend outta my life isn’t that big of a deal for me because I know it’ll ultimately have a bigger impact.
Pastor Craig: Tell me that’s not awesome. So excited when I saw that, and I’m going to be honest, it was just a little more excited…I woulda been excited no matter who that was but I’m just a little bit more excited than I would have otherwise been because she’s one of us. She’s part of Mission Hills. And in fact, I think we have her here. Lexie, would you come on out and join me? Super, super proud of you, girl. This is fantastic. I didn’t know your name was Alexa.
Pastor Craig: I’ve only known you as Lexie. So proud of you.
Alexa: Thank you.
Pastor Craig: It’s awesome the way you’re…
Alexa: Thank you.
Pastor Craig: …taken this opportunity to be on mission with Jesus. I just wanna ask you a couple real good questions, okay?
Alexa: Yes, uh-huh.
Pastor Craig: So question number one, how long have you been following Jesus?
Alexa: I’ve been following Jesus for about a year now.
Pastor Craig: About a year now. How did that happen? Where were you? When did it happen?
Alexa: Yeah, I actually had a mentor of mine who invited me over to Mission Hills to a service after a long break away from my faith, and from then I just haven’t left.
Pastor Craig: So you said yes to Jesus right here?
Alexa: Yeah. And I actually got baptized a little…about a year ago to the day.
Pastor Craig: I know, and my wife actually was one of the ones who did the baptism interview with you and she saw you on the news, so she’s like, “That’s awesome.”
Pastor Craig: Like, we just love the fact that not only are you becoming like Jesus, but you’re joining him on mission. And we’re all about that here, right? So let me ask you this question, what motivated you to be on mission with Jesus in this particular way?
Alexa: I guess I saw a need in our community, so I saw schools were shutting down, I saw everything was closing, and I thought, “Oh my gosh, like, these families, these kids are gonna be without groceries.” The kids who rely on the free and reduced lunches. So I just saw a need and I thought, you know, if I could rally a few community members, that would be awesome. If I could rally a handful, that would be awesome. But yeah, I just saw a need and I kind of decided to step in, along with some amazing community members, so yeah.
Pastor Craig: So would it be fair to say you are motivated by compassion?
Pastor Craig: Yeah. Okay, I got one more question for you.
Pastor Craig: Okay, are you rich?
Pastor Craig: You don’t have just, like, a ton of money that you’re like, “Oh my gosh, I can just buy all these groceries because, like, I have limitless finances.” You’re not rich?
Pastor Craig: So you’re being generous with the little that you have, would that be fair to say?
Pastor Craig: I know you don’t wanna say that about yourself, but that’s the truth, and we love that. For the last few weeks we’ve been talking about being generous, and I just love that, you know, you’re not necessarily somebody with a tremendous number of resources, but you’re using those resources to be on mission with Jesus and caring for people. It’s fantastic. I have a little bit of a gift for you, if that’s okay?
Pastor Craig We heard that you were doin’ this and we put together a little bit of a gift from Mission Hills. I’m going to go ahead and give this to you, you can go ahead and open it right now.
Pastor Craig: This isn’t really a gift, actually. The better way to say this would be that probably this is an investment in you, who are being on mission with Jesus. So I wasn’t able to quite get the check together real fast, but we’re gonna make a substantial investment in you, because you are living on mission with Jesus…
Pastor Craig: …and we are so proud of you.
Alexa: Ohh, Oh my gosh.
Pastor Craig: Lexie, you are somebody who understands what more is for, and in…
Alexa: Are you serious?
Pastor Craig: And we’re absolutely serious.
Pastor Craig: And we know, because we know you’re going to use that to honor God, you’re going to use that to extend God’s influence, and you’re going to use that to make a difference in people’s lives. It’s a privilege to be able to do that. We’re so, so proud of you.
Alexa: Thank you.
Pastor Craig: You’re welcome, thank you…
Alexa: Thank you.
Pastor Craig: …for being on mission with Jesus.
Alexa: Thank you.
Pastor Craig: Yeah, you’re welcome.
Alexa: Thank you, guys.
Pastor Craig: You’re welcome. Man, I’m just…I love that. I love that. We can’t do that for everybody, but as Andy Stanley says, “Do for one what you wish you could do for many.” And it’s not a gift, it’s an investment. She understands what more is for, she is using it to be on mission with Jesus for people who are not. Struggling to figure out the bad news, but they desperately need to hear the good news – it’s not supposed to be like this, but God is doing something about it. And he’s doing something about it right here, right now, through his people.
And so I just got one big question for you, Mission Hills, how can you…? Just ask yourself this question – how can I be the good news? How can I be the good news that I wanna share with someone who knows that life’s hard right now? How can you be the good news that you want to share with someone who’s not struggling to understand that life apart from God’s rule and his reign is bad? How can you do that? Let me give you something really practical you can do during this season of the Coronavirus, you can go to missionhills.org/care.
Our communications team, our outreach team, a team of people have just done an unbelievable work… I am absolutely blown away by the team that I get to work with, they have been scrambling for the last 24 hours to figure out the communications around this whole, you know, canceling on-campus live gatherings and gettin’ the word out. And in the midst of all that, we asked them, “Hey, could you help us figure out a way that we can mobilize people to be on mission with Jesus and to seize these unique opportunities?” And they did it. They pulled it off and they…like, they went so far above and beyond my expectations, I can’t even begin to tell you.
But what you’re gonna find when you go to that website is, there is a couple things you can do. First off, if you have a need, right? Maybe you’re finding yourself struggling with food, or financially you’re struggling, or there’s some kind of a need, you can actually let us know about that need. And over time, it’s not there yet, but as those needs get posted in there, they’ll actually appear on the page, and as followers of Jesus, you’re going to be able to click on one of those, you’re going to go, “I can do that. I can meet that need,” and you’ll get all the information you need to meet that very specific need.
Maybe somebody says, “Hey, I need a crib,” or somebody says, “Yeah, I need some bread or some groceries or whatever it is.” Whatever it is, you’re going to be able to go, “Oh, I can do that,” and they’re going to tell you exactly how to do that. You’ll also find in that page the opportunity to contribute goods, canned goods, bread, eggs, some of those kinds of things, to our food bank at the Life Center in downtown Littleton. And by the way, we’re going to be extending the reach of the Life Center, maybe even to Highlands Ranch, as people find themselves in need because of this Coronavirus and those sorta situations.
So, I really wanna encourage you just to go to missionhills.org/care, and either let us know about a need, or say, “I’m going to be on mission with Jesus, meeting that particular need.” Okay? So how can you be the good news? How can you be the good news that you wanna share with somebody that already knows about the bad news? I really wanna encourage you to do that. Second thing I’m gonna ask you to ask yourself is this, “Am I willing to pray Jesus’ very sneaky prayer?” Are ya’? It’s a sneaky prayer. I told you why it was sneaky, right? Because he’s gonna hook you in.
You’re gonna say, “Hey, God, I need you to do this, and he’s gonna go, “Yeah, definitely gonna do that, but I think maybe we oughta start with you.” Are you willing to pray his very sneaky prayer of, “God, hey, would you raise up people to share the good news that life isn’t supposed to be like this. But God is doing something about it”? You have good news. You have unique opportunities in this season, Mission Hills. Wherever you are in the world, wherever you are in the world, you have unique opportunities this season. Coronavirus is not a reason for fear, it is a season for mission – be on mission with Jesus. Would you pray with me?
God, thank you for the good news, and we’re surrounded by things that we look at and we go, “Yeah, it’s not good. Life is hard. It’s even bad. But Lord, you’ve done something about it. And you’ve given us the privilege of sharing that good news with others.” Lord, give us the courage to do it. It’s good news, we shouldn’t even be hesitant to let us follow your Son’s example of sharing good news with people who already know the bad news. Help us to be on mission. Here is a way for you to be on mission too. If you’re a follower of Jesus, right now, wherever you are around the world, would you start praying with me?
Start praying for the people who are listening to this that don’t know Jesus. They don’t know the good news of life under the reign of a good and a kind King. They’re still living harassed and harried, because maybe that’s you. Maybe you’re listening to this and you’re like, “That’s me. I didn’t know there was an alternative, I didn’t know that life wasn’t supposed to be like this.” Maybe you felt it, or maybe there is something deep inside you that said, “This just doesn’t feel right, it doesn’t feel like the way it’s supposed to be.” You’re right. It’s not. This is not what God intended. This isn’t how life is supposed to be, and God has done something about it.
He is doing something about it, he sent his own Son, lived a perfect life, he died on the cross to pay for the wrong that we’ve done, our sin. That’s what let the bad into the world, it’s what lets the bad into our lives. Jesus died to pay for it, three days later he rose from the dead and he offers you salvation by faith. By simply accepting his gift of forgiveness, by trusting in him, and putting yourself back under his rule and his reign in faith. And here’s how you do it – wherever you are, just have this conversation with God in your heart and say this, say, “God, I have done wrong. I admit it. And I’m sorry. Jesus, thank you for coming for me. Thank you for dying on the cross in my place. Thank you.”
“I believe you rose from the dead, and that that’s what make this good news. Jesus, I need your forgiveness, I need to put myself back under your rule and reign, and so I’m saying yes to you. I’m saying yes to faith in you, I’m putting my trust in you. Jesus, come into my life. I’m yours, for now and forever. Amen.” If you made that decision today, wherever you are, we would love – love, love to know about it and celebrate with you. Would you do something for me? Would you just text the word Jesus to 888111. You’re not gonna get on a list, what we’re going to do is, we’re going to give you more good news. We’re going to give you more good news about things that are true about you now that you’ve said yes to a relationship with Jesus. To faith in him. We’d love to get those truths, those pieces of good news into your hands. Hey, before we close our time together, if we’d have one more opportunity to worship a God who loves us so deeply, a God who’s done everything necessary to remove the barriers between us and him so that we can experience life as he intended it for us.
GET IN THE GAME
Evangelism simply means sharing the Good News of Jesus and as a follower it is something you are tasked with by God; you are on the missions field in your everyday life as part of the church. Think it sounds daunting? The message this week has easy (and reassuring) tips for starting if you haven’t been sharing already.
Reza: Hey, Mission Hills, how are you doing? Hey, my name is Reza Zadeh, and I’m newer on the teaching team here at Mission Hills. And I’m thrilled to be able to come, and as we continue the series that Pastor Craig started last week. And I wanted you to be sure that Pastor Craig is fine, this had already been planned that he was going to be out of town and I was already set to speak this weekend. So no need to worry, Pastor Craig is great, and he’s fine, and he’ll be back with us here pretty soon.
But we are in a series that pastor Craig started last week called “The Playbook, God’s Plan on How We Can Change the World.” And here’s one of the great things that we need to understand about the Gospel, that you and I have a central place within the message of the Gospel being spread all over the world. That the mission of the church is to extend God’s influence in the world. And here at Mission Hills, there is a big dream that has been shared, and there’s a big dream that we believe God has given us, is that in the year 2020, that we would be able to see 2020 people come to know Jesus and surrender to him as Lord and Savior. That’s not something that we can do through a building, but that’s something God can do through his people. And so, there is a vision that throughout the life of Mission Hills Church, that we would be able to see the entire Front Range of Colorado, that every lost person up and down the Front Range would have an opportunity to understand who Jesus is and to come into relationship with him.
And as we continue the series, as we talk about this series, there’s a couple of things that you need to know that you don’t just contribute to a church that gives to missions or believes in missions, that you yourself, that you’re on the field, that you’re not just sitting in the stand, the church is more than attending and giving. The truth is the church is not a building that you come to, the church is not a building that we come to, it’s not a program that we participate in, but the church is the people of God engaged in the mission of God. And so, what we’re going to be doing this week is, we’re going to talk a little bit more and, kind of, build on what Pastor Craig talked about last week. So if you didn’t catch the message last week, I encourage you to go back and listen to it because it’ll give you a little bit more context for what we’re going to be talking about here today.
There might be no better time in the history of God’s people since The Book of Acts in the 1st century, that the church is able to be unleashed to communicate the Gospel to a world that really is in need. That the reality is there’s bad news everywhere with coronavirus, and there’s bad news about the economy, and businesses, and many of us have been impacted deeply by what’s been happening in the current events and the things that we’ve read on our newsfeeds. For a lot of us, we never thought that the things that we’d been reading on our newsfeeds on our social media feeds would be things that we would see in real life. But the reality is there’s a lot of bad news that is out there and it’s a perfect season for mission.
You know, the word church has been hijacked over the years that the word church has simply become a place that people go to. But this is a great time to remember, there’s two components of this thing called church, that, first of all, church isn’t a building, church is God’s people. And the church does a great job of gathering together, the church is intended to gather. And we’ve understood that, we’ve done a great job of gathering together, but the unfortunate thing is we’ve gotten very comfortable in just simply coming to a weekly environment where we gather. The second component of a church is not just to gather but it’s also to scatter, and that’s why this is such an exciting time in this time in our history because we are forced to be scattered. And we’re not forced to be scattered because of persecution, we’re not forced to be scattered because there’s some enemy that’s against us here in the physical world, that we’re forced to scatter because the reality of this virus that has infected this world. And yet, we get to gather in places like this around technology and yet be scattered and dispersed throughout our communities.
You know, this series that we’re talking about, “Playbook, How to Share Our Faith,” or this word called evangelism that we’re talking about, we believe this is something that God has divinely instituted for us because Pastor Craig and I planned this series months ago. And so, we knew that this week we’d be talking about what does it mean for us to be the church and not just attend the church. And so, we believe God has set this up for us. And this is an opportunity for us, a season of our life to be able to be what Jesus intended us to be in his world and with his children, that we get to play our part. That for a lot of us, church has become something that we simply attend. And in the context of even the sport, it would be like we dress up to go to church, we dress up with all of our sports gear, but we simply stay in the stands or stand on the sidelines. The reality is we can’t do that any longer, that we need to be engaged with those that are around us because of everything that’s happening.
And so, we are going to talk about this thing called evangelism. What does it mean for us to share the good news? And I know this, that there’s a lot of hesitation that word evangelism. That the telling of the good news, it brings up a lot of emotions for many of us and we want to talk about some of those. And I get the hesitation when it comes to evangelism. You know, I’ve been a pastor for a lot of years, I’ve been a missionary, and I’ve gone to conferences. And whenever I hear someone who’s gifted in evangelism, they typically start a conversation or they start a talk like this, and they say, “You know, I got on an airplane one day,” and Pastor Craig, even last week, he was talking about sitting on the airplane with “The DaVinci Code” book as he was riding along and writing his talks for that series in that moment in time.
But people will start off and they’ll say, “I was sitting on an airplane and I was just praying for the person that God would put next to me because I just wanted to share the Gospel with them.” And I’ll be honest, at that point, I tune out because I’m thinking, “Man, when I get on an airplane, I pray nobody sits next to me.” And so, I already feel like I’ve already failed when it comes to this thing called evangelism. But what I’d love to do for us is to show us, just like we said earlier, that church is not a building we come to, but church is the people of God engaged in the mission of God. That I want to walk us through and expose some of the myths of evangelism, and even walk us through some methods of what does it look like for us to share this good news, this good news of the Gospel, this good news of Jesus that he has come to a broken world, that he has come to release us from the guilt of shame and the guilt of sin that is upon us, and we can live free. And so, that’s what we’re going to take a look at.
Before we do, we’re going to take a look at some passages of scripture that really talk about the mission of the church and what God has intended for us. I serve for a missions’ organization called Cru that used to be known as Campus Crusade for Christ, and the mantra for Cru has always been, and will always be, “Win, build, and send,” win people to the Gospel of Jesus, build them up and disciple them, and send them out into the world. And there’s a lot of people that…there are a lot of organizations that have adopted this win, build, send model. And it’s typically centered around this one passage of scripture that when Jesus was resurrected and he spent his final moments on earth with his disciples, and he gave what has been traditionally called the Great Commission.
The Great Commission is found in Matthew 28:18-20, and it very simply says, “Jesus tells his disciples, ‘Go. I want you to go about your life. I want you to go to other nations, I want you to go to other sides, I want you to go talk to other people and go and make disciples of all nations. Go make disciples of all people baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to do everything I’ve commanded to you. And I want you to know that I’m going to be with you to the very end of the age.'” That from the very beginning, the mission of the church, the mission of God’s people is to go, is to go and make disciples of all nations. And there’s a lot of organizations that have adopted the Great Commission, it’s been a part of a lot of seminaries. And if you go to seminaries and if you go to missions’ organizations and churches, you’ll see the Great Commission is on the side of buildings and the Great Commission is talked about.
But here’s one thing that we oftentimes miss when it comes to the Great Commission that the Great Commission wasn’t the first thing that Jesus commanded his believers or commanded his followers to go engage in. That years before, he gave the Great Commission, that Jesus got together with his disciples and he got together when there was other people, the Pharisees, his spiritual rivals, as you could say, were trying to trap him. And they’re trying to ask him, they were saying, “Jesus, what is the greatest commandment of everything in the Old Testament? What’s the greatest commandment of Moses?” And they weren’t saying that because they were curious, they were saying that because they wanted to trap him. And so, Jesus comes and he tells us, and Matthew records it for us in Matthew 22:37-40, “And Jesus tells them, the greatest commandment of all, if you take all of the commandments they can be wrapped up in this, love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and love your neighbor as yourself.”
You see, before the Great Commission, before we were to go and make disciples of all nations, before we were to go and to baptize people in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, that there’s this commandment to love. That sometimes, we forget that before we’re supposed to do, we’re supposed to have a specific posture. And Jesus set up this posture for his followers, and this posture is this posture of love, that love is at the heartbeat and the thread of how we are to live out the mission of God. The Apostle Paul took this so seriously that he even called this the Law of Christ. That even as he planted his churches, and as he spoke to people, and as he raised up disciples, that he used this thread of love to really be the underlying current for how he communicated the message of Jesus.
And it’s the Apostle Paul himself in 1 Corinthians 9:19 as he takes this thread of love, and he takes it deeper and he says, “Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone.” And he uses some pretty strong language, people everywhere in that day and age in the 1st century. And today, we understand what a slave is. And he says, “Although I’m free, although I am free of guilt, I have no obligation to do this. I don’t belong to anyone but I’ve chosen to make myself a slave to everyone so that I might win as many as possible.”
You see, some of us, we have some roadblocks when it comes to evangelism, though, for some of us, we feel guilted, we don’t like doing things we feel guilted in, and we have this overwhelming sense that, “I’m being forced to do something I don’t want to do.” Well, for some of us, evangelism just simply seems intimidating, and isn’t evangelism just, kind of, like what those paid Christians get to do? Isn’t that what missionaries and pastors…like, isn’t that why we put money in the plates, so that other people can go and do this for us? Because I’m not wanting to do this so I’m sure this is for other people to be able to go and do.
But I would say one of the other obstacles in us actually engaging in evangelism is the reality that we don’t want to offend anybody, that we don’t want to challenge anybody’s beliefs. We don’t want people to think down on us because we’re trying to change what they think about the world or what they think about faith. But yet, we wouldn’t be very shy about sharing our favorite essential oils or different recipes that we would share with other people. That if I truly believe that there’s an opportunity for me to live free of guilt and for me to live free of shame, and my friends, the people that I love, those people that I live life with, they can also taste the freedom that is found in Jesus, I’ll do whatever it takes to help them live guilt-free.
But even though, there’s simply more and more excuses that we might have. Some of us might think, “I’m not sure I can answer the questions that people might pose, and I don’t just don’t simply know enough.” Well, the reality is I’ve got sin in my life and I don’t want to be seen as a hypocrite because I’m not perfect, and if I tell them about Jesus, they might think that I’m supposed to be some professional Christian or doing this thing to the letter of the law, but I know where I fall short, I don’t want to be a hypocrite. But for most of us, we just really don’t even know what to say. We don’t know where to go, and that’s why we’re here today. Last week, Pastor Craig talked about the why of evangelism, kind of, why we engage in it. And this week, I want to talk a little bit more about the how. I want to talk about some very specific practical ways on how we share our faith and some different models of evangelism that we’re going to take a look at.
And before we start talking about evangelism, it’s important for us to understand that evangelism is a work of God. That we share the Gospel according to his purpose, according to his plan, and according to his power. Then there’s a specific word that is often times used in conjunction with this word evangelism, and it’s the word witness, that we are called to be a witness for Jesus. That in Acts 1:8, that the Lord tells his people that you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you. It’s God’s power that comes upon us. That, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” And so, we’re called to be witnesses of Jesus.
And here’s the reality about a witness. In a court of law, a witness simply tells what they saw. A witness simply gives a window into the truth. The job of a witness is not to convince anybody of anything. A witness is very simply, the intention of a witness is to simply say, “This is what I saw. You can do whatever you want with this information, but I need to tell you, this is what my eyes saw, and this is what happened when that crime took place,” or whatever the court case would be about. So, the job of a witness is not to convince the jury, a witness is simply a window into the truth of what’s happened.
So, before we walk into this passage that we’re going to take a look at and examine some of the ways that Jesus engaged evangelism, that I want us to understand that successful witnessing has a very specific definition. That successful witnessing is simply taking the initiative to share Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit and leaving the results up to God. That witnessing and evangelism is not us convincing other people on what they should believe, but really witnessing and evangelism is a sharing of the love of God through our work and through our words.
And so, we’re going to a look at a passage of scripture in John chapter 4, and so, if you have a Bible with you, I want you to turn to John chapter 4 and follow along with us. And we’re going to walk through four methods of evangelism and use the backdrop of Jesus interacting with this woman, this specific woman of Samaria at this well in the 1st century. So join with me, John 4, we’re going to start in verse 4, “Now he, Jesus, had to go through Samaria.” That right there is significant. That he really didn’t have to go through Samaria because as you follow the journey that Jesus and his disciples run, Samaria was kind of out of the way, a back road to get to their place, but the scripture says that he had to go.
I don’t think it was a he had to go physically, I think, spiritually, he had to go, he knew what his mission was. “Now, he had to go through Samaria, so he came to a town in Samaria called Sychar near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there and Jesus tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well, it was about noon. When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, ‘Will you give me a drink?’ His disciples had gone into town to buy food. The Samaritan woman said to him, ‘You’re a Jew and I’m a Samaritan woman, how can you ask me for a drink for Jews do not associate with Samaritans?'”
Here’s the first method of evangelism that we see here, simply making friends. That Jesus had to go through Samaria, that he was very intentional with the people that he interacted with. And I wonder, what does it look like for you and me to be intentional with the people that we interact with? What does it look like for us to be in relationships with people that are just not simply like us? I want you to think, how many people are you in relationship with in your life that don’t believe like you believe, that don’t vote like you vote, or don’t think like you think?
And if you don’t have people in your life that don’t believe what you believe, or don’t vote the way that you vote, or don’t think the way that you think, or don’t live the way that you live, or go to the same school that your kids go to, that I wonder if we don’t have people in our life that are not like us, I’m not sure we’re doing this right. That I think it’s essential for us to have specific people in our life that we’re engaging with that aren’t like us. You see, Jews and Samaritans didn’t associate with each other, and there’s a long history we can’t get into it, but they just simply did not associate with one another.
And then, very clearly, Jesus was a rabbi, Jesus was a teacher in Israel, and this Samaritan was a woman. Not only did Jews and Samaritans not interact, rabbis and Samaritans absolutely didn’t interact. And to have a rabbi connecting and communicating with the Samaritan woman was absolutely against what they believed in, in that day and age. So here we find ourselves in this simple tension, but this is classic Jesus, that Jews and Samaritans didn’t associate with one another, but yet, Jesus, he went, and yet he had a mission, but he saw a person, not a program. You see, I think one of the things that’s so hard is that Christians are oftentimes, we have a hard time making friends with non-Christians because our end goal is not friendship.
A lot of times, our end goal isn’t friendship, but our end goal is some sort of a program where people are an agenda for us. And here’s the tension that we hold, that yet on one side, we’re to go and make disciples of all nations, we’re going to go to share the message of the Gospel with people who don’t know it, but at the exact same time, we’re called to love our neighbor as our self, whether or not they believe the way that we believe. And so, there is this idea here that Jesus shows us what it means to see people beyond a mission, to see people beyond an agenda. Friendship with no agenda but yet we do have a mission.
As I’ve shared my story of converting from Islam and becoming a believer 23 years ago, I oftentimes have people walk up to me and they’ll tell me something like this, “Reza, I have a friend who is from Iran,” or, “I have a friend who is Muslim and I really want to share the Gospel with them, how do I do it?” And oftentimes think, and I do know that sometimes people want very practical strategies or they want to know, “Okay, say this, and then say this, and then say this.” But here is a reality, that the way that I came to know Jesus was not because anyone opened up the Bible and preached it to me. The way that I came to know Jesus is I had some people that lived next door to me over the course of the summer simply be my friend.
They invited me over to eat, we had a conversation, they asked me about my life, and they planted seeds. And it was God who changed my life, they didn’t change my life, it was God who changed my life through them. And so, really, the reality, the secret to doing all this is simply, make friends with people. That there is a phrase, relational evangelism, and I would oftentimes think that the word relational evangelism is almost redundant because evangelism is making friends, evangelism is being relational.
I’ve oftentimes told people, “If you know how to make a friend, you know how to share the Gospel.” Because sharing the Gospel is simply making friends with people with the idea that we do have a mission in mind, but yet we have this thread of love, love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind, and love your neighbor as yourself. And what would happen if we just simply put a period at the end of that sentence instead of a comma? What if it was just simply love your neighbor as yourself? Engage this world because the agenda is love, and real love always leads to truth. We want to make sure people don’t feel like they’re a project because people know when they’re absolutely a project.
In verse 10 we continue, “Jesus answered her, ‘If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.’ ‘Sir,’ the woman said, ‘You’ve got nothing to draw and this water is deep, where can you get this living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob who gave us this well and drank from it himself as did also his sons and his livestock?’ Jesus answered, ‘Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will be in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.’ And the woman said, ‘Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.'”
The second model of evangelism that we see here is simply meeting needs. You know, there was a reason this woman went to this well at midday. You know, in the Middle East, you don’t go to the well at midday, you don’t take long journeys in the middle of the day unless you don’t want to interact with other people. Now, over the years, theologians have concluded what this woman was going through, was she a promiscuous woman, was she a woman in pain? We don’t entirely know everything about her story, but here’s what we do know, that she went to the well at a time when other people wouldn’t be there. It was probably really hot in that midday Middle Eastern sun, and she desperately wanted water.
And here comes the one that says, “Actually, I can give you some water that will never cause you to thirst again,” because she probably was very thirsty for things in her life. But there was a lot of things that were happening, and not only was she physically thirsty but maybe her lifestyle led her to be thirsty for relationships, thirsty for connection. And here’s the second model of evangelism, simply meeting needs. That here’s three things that every person has, every person walking around on this planet has these three things in common, everyone has pain, everybody has a past, and everybody has potential. And Jesus is the answer to all three of those in every single person’s life.
You see, this the day and age where we get to simply meet the needs of other people. And I want to encourage you, as Pastor Craig started last week, if you have a need in the midst of this coronavirus or this crisis that we’re in, if you have a need, would you simply go to missionhills.org/care, and we would love to help you meet your needs. And there are some people that are sitting here saying, “I want to help people meet needs, there’s opportunities that I have, I want to get engaged.” You too can go to missionhills.org/care, and you can get engaged with helping people meet needs in a very practical way in this day and age.
You see, there is a generation of people here today that have a need to feel like they belong before they actually believe. That this woman had a conversation, she was talking to Jesus about her father Jacob, and so it really shows the spiritual lineage that she comes from. And do you catch what Jesus doesn’t do? That the entire message of Jesus is, there is a greater father than the patriarchs in the Old Testament, that there is a Father in heaven. And Jesus doesn’t spend time arguing theological points with her, but he simply meets her need.
Then I wonder if too many times we’re so caught up in making sure people think right before they feel like they’re accepted and loved. But Jesus went straight to the heart of a person. He almost ignored the intellect at the beginning. He ignored the intellect, ignored what they thought and just went to her heart because he knew that she had a need that needed to be met, and he knew how to meet that need. Friends, this is exactly what we get to do today from a physical, liquid water need, to a spiritual life need that she desperately had that she didn’t even realize that she had in her life.
The great Charles Spurgeon, I love his quote when he says, “If we truly love Christ, we shall care for those that are loved by him.” You know, at Mission Hills, there is a ton of stories of how you are loving this community, how you are loving people that aren’t like you, that you are loving people that you don’t even know yet, but yet you have chosen to be on mission with God and to be able to come alongside others. I want you to hear this story of a dear friend of Mission Hills, someone who has been a part of our church for a lot of years, and I hope this encourages you.
Melody: In 2018, I was sitting in one of Pastor Craig’s sermons, and he said something about he wanted to bring a huge number of people to Christ.
Pastor Craig: Reaching the Front Range is something that we are going to do as the people of God together. My job is to unleash you, my job is to equip you, to lead you to be the people that God called you to be, to be on mission with Jesus in your spheres of influence with the gifts that God has given you.
Melody: And I kept thinking about, “Gee, now, I don’t know how I can do that,” you know, I’m 71 years old. And I came up with the idea of having a group where I live. And I live in a condominium with 50 units. I decided to do this in December, 1st of January, and I had a stroke on the 8th of January. And so, I said, “Well, I made it through that and I guess God is not done with me yet.” We just went ahead and started a week after what I was going to start. I know when I first did this, I have never taught a Bible study or a Bible class or anything.
The people in my group range in age from 70 to 92, there’s many different denominations in the group, and I would say, the gal that’s 92 knows the Bible better than any of the rest of us. We do a lot of praying for things going on with our children, and our grandchildren, and, in some cases, great-grandchildren. We’ve just made lots of good friends and hope to get a few more people this year. I felt like when Pastor Craig spoke that day, God was speaking through him that, “You need to get busy and do something.” You know, and I’ve participated in groups here at this church, and in my church when I lived in Florida, I participated in groups, but I’d never actually led a group. It’s not as hard as I would have thought it was.
Reza: Let’s continue in verse 16. Verse 16, “Jesus told her, ‘Go and call your husband and come back.’ She says, ‘I have no husband,’ and Jesus said, ‘You’re right when you say you have no husband. The fact is you have five husbands and the man you have right now is not your husband, which you have said is quite true.'” You see, Jesus confronts her, but yet he touches her in her sin, he touches her in her pain. He touches her at the depths of what she’s experiencing in life, and he also shares the truth. You see, I think one of the problems with many of us when it comes to engaging people is we avoid people in their pain because it’s so uncomfortable for us that we don’t know what to do, and sometimes we don’t know what to say. You know, as a pastor, over the years, I’ve officiated many, many funerals, and in this weird way, I absolutely love officiating these memorial services, celebrating, commemorating the lives of people that have lived in the name of Jesus and people who hadn’t known Jesus. But I love being able to facilitate these opportunities because people are in such need.
A few weeks ago, I shared with you the story of my dear friend Izzy Herman. Izzy is 19 years old and her father passed away from a leukemia. A few years later, her older sister passed away from the same leukemia that her father had. And, unfortunately, about four weeks ago, Izzy lost her battle to leukemia as well. And a couple of weeks ago, I stood up in front of an auditorium that was full of people celebrating the life of this young 20-year-old girl and this family who has been decimated by this thing called cancer. And I got up in front of that church, and I got up in front of those people and I said, “Look, I know a lot of us are here because we want to be able to say something to this family to make them feel better, but the reality is there is nothing you and I can say that’s going to make the pain go away. But your presence being here in the life of someone who’s grieving is more powerful than your words could ever be. That your presence is more powerful than your words.” May I encourage us to continue to come alongside people and to help meet their needs and to simply be with people as they’re walking through situations in their life.
And then, we go down to verse 28, Jesus has had this conversation and he is telling her about his Gospel, he’s telling her about what’s available to her through life that’s found in him. And then in verse 28, it says, “Then leaving her water jar, the woman went back to town and said to the people, ‘Come and see a man who told me everything I ever did, could this be the Messiah?’ So they came out of the town and made their way towards him.” The third model of evangelism is this, “Come and see.” You see, for some people they would think, “Hey, come and see is just a cop-out.” But the reality is, sometimes “Come and see” is very important, because God has done some miraculous things that we just simply want other people to come and to see. That sometimes I wonder if communicating the Gospel isn’t our job to do.
Let me explain, the Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians, he kind of lays out God’s plan of people coming to know him and he uses agricultural terms. And, actually, Jesus uses agricultural terms, and I think that’s very, very specific. And I wonder if the woman saying, “Come and see,” is a lot like what Paul is going to be talking about in 1 Corinthians 3. Paul says, “I planted the seed in your hearts, Apollo, somebody else watered it, but it was God who made it grow.” It’s not important who does the planting or who does the watering, what’s important is that God makes the seed grow. And I wonder if sometimes we hesitate in evangelism or we hesitate in sharing the Gospel because we expect to see the fruit right away.
But if Jesus used agricultural context more than any other illustration in his teaching, if the Apostle Paul uses this idea of agricultural planting and growing, and yet it’s God that makes something grow and you water it and then something grows, I wonder if that’s a message for you and I? That sometimes we’re not going to be around to see the fruit of the witnessing, but we’re simply the seed planters. And the best way to plant the seeds is, “Hey, I want you to come and see. I want you to come see what God has done. I don’t fully understand it, I don’t comprehend it, but God has done something pretty significant. I want you to come and see because it’s impacted me in a big way.”
Years ago, when I was a college pastor, I would facilitate these spring break mission trips. And we would go down to South Padre Island with about 60 or 75 or so Colorado State University students. And we’d go down there with the mission to share the Gospel of Jesus through giving out free rides around the island on the vans so that people wouldn’t be drinking and driving, feeding people late at night when they’re coming out of the clubs, and simply using that as a way to engage in spiritual conversation. And I’ll never forget this one night, there’s this little Baptist Church in the middle of South Padre Island, it’s kind of our headquarters for the entire week. And we have a prayer room that’s going on as other students are doing the ministry around the island, and we have a group of students that are praying for them.
And there was these two girls that are on the mission trip with us, we joined with universities all over the country, these two girls, they were involved in the student ministry group down in Texas. And there were two Iranian girls, and this always happens whenever I go somewhere and there’s another Iranian, I get introduced to them because some people, they just think Iranians should always meet one another. So there are these two twin girls, one is a believer, one is a follower of Jesus, and one is still Muslim, she hasn’t converted. And I had this conversation with her and I’m saying, “Wait, why are you on a Christian mission’s trip if you’re not even a Christian yet?” She’s like, “Well, I think I want to be a Christian but I just know if I can because my dad, I don’t want to disappoint him.”
And so, I looked at the other sister and I said, “You didn’t care about disappointing your dad?” She said, “No, I really didn’t. Jesus intersected my life and I just had to follow him.” And so, I’m having this conversation with these two girls, and later on in the night, I’m in the prayer room kind of helping facilitate what’s happening in there, and one of the girls, the girl who is a Christian comes in taps me on the shoulders and says, “Hey, my sister is talking to someone and I think you need to come out there and talk to them.” And so, I said, “Okay,” so I walk out.
And so, I walk out in this conversation, this girl who is a Muslim on a Christian mission trip is talking to the spring break, this student who is just crying, and broken, and just really wanting to figure out what life is all about. And I kid you not, this is what the Muslim girl says. The Muslim girl looks at me, she looks at the spring break, she looks at me and she says, “Hey, you need to listen to this guy because he talks a lot about this person named Jesus, and I believe Jesus can change your life.” And I’m thinking to myself, “I have never had a Muslim point me to someone to tell them about Jesus.” But yet, it was this beautiful picture of this, “I don’t understand everything about this Jesus person, but you’ve got to come and see because there’s something significant.”
And in verse 39, the people in this woman’s town, they respond in verse 39, “Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, ‘He told me everything I ever did.’ So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days. And it was because of his words that many more became believers. They said to the woman, ‘We no longer believe just because of what you said, now we have heard for ourselves and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world.'” The fourth model of evangelism that we see here is your story, that a part of, “Come and see,” is us telling our story, of us telling people how it’s happened in our lives.
And we’ve talked about this at Mission Hills, we’ve talked about the power of our story, and our story being one of the chief tools that God has given us to communicate his love and forgiveness to a world that is desperately seeking this. That our story is so important that our testimony, the tests that we’ve walked through that God has rescued us through, the messes of our lives that he has used to become a message for you and I to communicate to this world, that our testimony is a way in which we overcome the evil one.
Then in Revelation 12, there’s a picture of the story of humanity and the story of good versus evil battling one another. And there is this picture of Satan being hurled to the earth by God and his armies. And then Satan goes, and the language in the scripture is pretty violent. It says, “He goes to make war with God’s children and God’s followers.” And yet, in Revelation 12:11 it beautifully states that they, you and I, God’s people defeated him, the evil one, Satan, that great serpent. We defeated him by the blood of the Lamb, that’s Jesus dying on the cross, and by their testimony, for they did not love their lives but laid them down for him. Do you see how powerful your story is? Your story is so powerful that even evil cannot overcome your story because your story is a picture of how God has overcome evil in your life, and it’s a way to propel others to overcome evil in their life.
And did you catch what they said? They didn’t just believe because of the woman’s testimony, but they believe because of his words, that her testimony led people to seek him and listened to his words. You see, friends, when we share our story, you and I cannot be the point of our story, you and I cannot be the point of what we’re talking about when we share our story with other people. That the point, the center of our story must be Jesus. That our story must point to him as the hero and not ourselves being the hero. That our story that we share is an opportunity for us to let other people know what it means to be a follower of this great and mighty God.
And so, friends, we’ve got an incredible opportunity in this day and age for the next weeks, months, years, decades to come, to be a church, a body of people, the people of God being engaged in the mission of God. And the mission of God is to go and make disciples of all nations, the mission of God is to go and baptize people in the name of the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit. The mission of God is to go and teach, but yet we can’t forget that we are to love the Lord our God with our heart, soul, and mind, and love our neighbor as our self. May love be the golden thread that leads us through this life as we live the life in the mission that God has called us to. And I love being able to do this with you, Mission Hills. I love being engaged and being a part of this body of believers that is committed to gather but then to scatter throughout the community and throughout this world.
Here’s what I want to do as we close, I want you to pray a specific prayer with me. And I want you to pray this prayer out loud no matter where you’re at, if you’re in a living room, if you’re sitting by yourself, if you’re in a crowded area, wherever you are, would you just simply whisper or say these words with me, we’re going to pray a prayer together. And I pray God would use this prayer to empower us, and to lead us, and to propel us to be the people he’s called us to be. Would you simply recite this prayer with me? Heavenly Father, we ask you to rescue the lost from the dominion of darkness and bring them into the kingdom of your Son. You alone can draw to yourself. Use us in their process. We pray that you will give us the opportunity to meet with people multiple times and share the Gospel in many different ways. Help us to reconnect again and again with those that aren’t interested in your name. Amen.