I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith, so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ. Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the saints. Philemon 1: 4-7
We have been looking at various aspects of spiritual growth that will help us to do and be our best for God. This section addresses our identity as Ambassadors for Christ. Part VI
Links to previous Quiet Times
This study - Active Ambassadors - Let's continue with some scriptures:
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Corinthians 5: 17-21
I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow.
1 Corinthians 3: 6
Think about us being active ambassadors. This is another powerful illustration that gives us a more complete picture of what it means to be a disciple of Jesus. Ambassadors get their power and authority from the one who sent them.
Did you share your faith last week? The question I asked is probably not the question you answered. Many disciples translate that into “Did I talk with some strangers and invite them to church?” Most of us have developed “tunnel vision” about evangelism. One relatively ineffective way of reaching out has become the only way for many of us. God would like us to reclaim His bigger vision.
If there are no “visitors” does it still count? Another aspect of our tunnel vision is a “no visitors = failure” mentality. Some examples: I studied the Bible with other people every day last week. Pretty impressive, right? Some days there were only believers in the study. Does that make it less impressive? Not to God. If no “visitors” come to a Bible discussion, should it be cancelled? If you “share your faith” and no one responds favorably, did you succeed or fail? When Paul was stuck in prison and couldn’t get out, did he still “share his faith?”
Results/responses VS plant and water:
We make a big mistake when we focus on how people respond instead of whether we reliably acted in faith. All God asks us to do is plant and water. When we try to make things grow according to goals and timetables WE set, we are taking over God’s role. It doesn’t work. And Jesus never let how people responded stop him from doing what’s right. He honored God with His faithful obedience and let people sort themselves out. We can do the same.
Let’s cure “tunnel vision”:
(A) There are many ways to share your faith.
Everything on the “encouragement” list from last week is a way to share your faith. There are other ways that aren’t on the list. Think and pray, and write down some other ways.
(B) Sharing with anyone (disciples or not) is sharing your faith. Paul’s letters are great examples of a Christian sharing his faith. All of those letters were written to Christians. His prayer for Philemon is in the center of a paragraph where he is describing the effects of Philemon’s interactions with other disciples.
(C) Sharing faithfully is the victory, not how people respond.
Every good thing we have in Christ: When we actively reach out to others, we get reminded of the blessings that flow from our relationship with Christ. Salvation is the most important blessing, but it’s not the only blessing. We also get reminded of how much Jesus believes in us, and the power He has given us to help the people around us.
Live out this richer understanding of sharing your faith and write down what’s different now when you share your faith.
Actions for This Study:
A. Think about the last 6 weeks. How many relationships have you started or renewed while trying to grow your relationship with God? Would you have done that without the focus? Which of those relationships will you strengthen this week? Go beyond good intentions, and make it happen.
B. Study out and memorize Hebrews 13: 15-16. How does this connect this study’s focus on action with last week’s focus on good intentions?
C. Which needs more effort from you: Bible study or prayer? That’s the one to emphasize this week. Set a goal that will stretch you. Follow through.
D. Encourage. Encourage someone each day. Pick several different people over the course of the week. You’ll get encouraged at the same time.
Next Study: Jubilee / Pressing on