Why do we think that we have to be loud to say something…that we have to be loud to get the attention of others?
My Grandfather used to say that if you throw pots down the stairs they’re loud and clanky, but that’s because they’re nothing inside. However, when you turn a light on, you hear nothing, but everything in the room changes – the light says so much with very little volume.
We can say so much with who we are, how we live, how we love…and yes…even with what we say…and how we say it!
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This week we continue our winter series : GROW-ing
So far we’ve talked about Formation (so important) & Generosity (important and & fun). We’ll eventually end with Community. But today we land on IMPACT.
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Can a church, be a church, without the expectation of growth & impact? Can we say we’re a church, but then have no expectation or desire to increase, both in number and in impact? I’m pretty sure the answer is no.
And what does or should that even look like?
Brian McLaren said, “The gospel is like a good song, it sneaks up on you, then it sneaks into you.”
- You can’t hear it without it changing you, without it making an impact on you.
- It’s not a song that can stay on your personal playlist…you gotta share it.
What does it mean to make an impact in our world, our society, our cities, our neighbourhood?
We often share our mission statement, which goes like this,
“We are discovering what it means to Love God, Love Others, Make the world better.”
As a community, this involves what we do collectively:
- Being Present
- Being Missional
- Being Jesus (with skin on)
Where do we start?
Making an impact must involve pointing people to Jesus.
If we believe that Jesus points us to God, then we must, in some way, point people to Jesus. And be as creative in doing that as possible.
The Bible Says…
- Preach the gospel & Make disciples
- Share the gospel, and share your lives
- God so loved the world that he gave
- You are the light of the world
I’ve always found that 1 Peter 3:13-17, gets us to the heart of what it means to live an impactful life.
Let’s dig into this text, shall we…
Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened.” But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behaviour in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. For it is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.
Peter gives us a really healthy template for what an impactful life looks like. More than that, how to share our faith with integrity and authenticity.
Do Good (always)
I love how Peter starts us off in this section…
Who’s going to harm you when you do good? Actually, that may happen…but even it does, don’t let it stop you. (HA)
I have a contact card…are contact cards still a thing?…oh well. There’s a line on it that I’ve borrowed and paraphrased from Galatians 6:9. It goes like this. Don’t stop doing good things.
Doing good will always be part of our mission. On days when it’s easy. And on days when it’s hard.
Christ followers have an incredible contribution to make to society in which they live, by breaking the cycle of people returning evil for evil.
A few verses earlier Peter says, Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called…
You can’t go wrong with doing good – it’s like planting seeds and believing for a good return – it’s also like laying the groundwork for God to get people’s attention.
(look at this old paraphrase of this same text) …we do good, and even suffer for it, in order to unscramble God’s word and declare in witness and deed his love & salvation for a disoriented & disjointed world… (I LOVE THIS)
Keep Jesus at the centre
If the first thing Peter says sets the stage for others to experience Jesus, this next thing sets the stage for us to be effective in our witness…
In your hearts, revere Christ as Lord (NIV)
Worship Christ as Lord in your Life (NLT)
In your hearts honour Christ the Lord as holy (ESV)
Keep your hearts at attention, in adoration before Christ, your Master (MSG)
In your hearts = at your core, in your centre. Simply saying, keep JESUS at the CENTRE.
The greek word (revere) used is hagiazo = which also means, “set apart”
- Jesus, I set you apart, as master, lord, ruler
- Also means you’re acknowledging Jesus as HOLY = he’s God, I’m not.
- And he makes me Holy (I can’t do that on my own)
- Peter talks about holiness a lot in his letter
If I want my witness to be effective? If I want my life to make a difference? If we want our church community to make an impact?
JESUS has to be at the CENTRE
JESUS has to be LORD
JESUS has to have my heart…our heart
Live a questionable life
Now we move to the fun stuff…
Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.
The word for answer is the word ‘apologia’ which we translate as apologetics = defence, reason, response, rationale.
Two things about this are important:
- We must have some response ready
- We must live a life that invites questions
Be ready. Be prepared. To answer or engage in dialogue.
But more important than that is, live a life that begs the question.
What a shame it would be to follow Jesus, and not to stir up as many questions from as many people as possible. (that’s a waste of faith)
Where will the questions rise from?
- Your Hope…especially when it’s hard to hope
- Your goodness…especially in the face of evil or struggle
- Your generosity…especially when you’re not in a season of abundance
- Your kindness…your love…your help…your attentiveness…
Here’s the thing: It’s impossible to have Jesus in you, without some of him leaking out of you.
Be gentle, respectful, and authentic.
Peter ends so beautifully. He reminds us that how we share faith is as important as sharing our faith.
With gentleness. With respect. With authenticity.
If you only want to be right or theologically correct, then that’s all you’ll be.
But always remember that your love, your grace, your posture of humility, will speak louder than any words you use in your conversations about faith.
Basic principal to remember: share the gospel with the spirit of Jesus. Lovingly meet people where they’re at.
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As we take this home, think about these few things…
Who are you praying for?
– talk to God about your friends, before you talk to your friends about God
Who are you being attentive to?
– Do you listen more than you talk?
Who are you inviting?
– 82% of people say they’d go to church if they were invited. 2% of Christians invite their friends to church. A little bit of a disconnect there!
Are you/we making our church community a safer, warmer, more grace-filled, excellent, and intriguing place?
– People will inevitably belong, before they believe. Let’s always be making it easier for our friends and neighbours to belong, and let the Holy Spirit encourage them to believe.