I once heard someone comment that in the future, the church will cease to be a place that worships God and will become more of a social gathering place. When I heard that years ago, I thought it sounded pretty ridiculous – why would the church exist if not for worshiping God? Could you even call it the church at that point? Surely not. But, as I have grown in my faith, I have encountered “churches” that seem to be more interested in gathering together socially than in worshiping God and doing the things He has commanded. I’m blessed to be a part of a church body that seeks to join God in His mission to see people come to a restored relationship with Him.
This week, we begin a new series called Compelled as we unpack that mission and what it looks like for us to share our faith with others. The series title is appropriate as we look at two ways in which we are compelled. First, we are compelled by God’s Holy Spirit living inside of us and telling us what to do next. If we are in tune with the Spirit, then He will show us opportunities to share the Gospel with those who need to hear it. Secondly, we are compelled by the love of God in us and through us. Paul writes, “For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again” (2 Corinthians 5:14-15). In other words, because of what we have received (Christ’s love), we have no choice but to share it. If we are truly convinced that Jesus died for us, then we can no longer live for ourselves, but for Him.
Even though these two things should compel us and we have Jesus’ command to be his witnesses, many believers still struggle with evangelism. So, this series is designed to equip us as the body to fulfill the Great Commission as we share the Good News of what God has done for us through Jesus Christ. This week, we will be diving into the excuses we give for not sharing the Gospel as we unpack Peter’s words to the crowd of Israelites in Acts, Chapter 2. This is the same Peter who denied Jesus in order to save his own life. So what changed? Why was he so bold in Acts 2 and so afraid at the time of Jesus’ arrest? The answer is that he had been filled with the Holy Spirit, which strengthens and empowers us so that our excuses are no longer valid.
The most common excuse given for not sharing is fear. We are afraid of what people might think of us or that they will reject us for sharing the Gospel. The Bible says that we have not been given a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. It was the Spirit who enabled Peter to overcome his fear even though his speech may have led to his arrest and execution.
I Don’t Have the Gift of Evangelism
While some seem to be better at sharing the Gospel than others and Scripture seems to indicate that this is a sort of gift, not being “good at it” just doesn’t hold weight against the Great Commission, which is for all believers. The job of those who have this gift is to “equip God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up” (Ephesians 4:11-13). In other words, just because we don’t have the gift doesn’t mean we are excused from doing it. It does mean that we should glean from those who do have the gift so that we can be more equipped to share our faith.
I Don’t Know Enough
How long have you been a Christian? I hear people use this excuse who have been a Christian for years. Well, what have you been doing for the past couple years? I hope you’ve been reading your Bible, or at least being in church listening to the sermon. At some point, we have to stop simply hearing the word and begin doing it. Once the resurrected Jesus ascended into Heaven, it was Peter and the other disciples’ turn to begin teaching. They had learned from Jesus, and now they were to go.
I’m Too Busy
We tend to make time for the things that are a priority to us. Recently, I was convicted of this as I realized that I could only name four people in my own neighborhood – a place in which I have lived for the last seven years. What was my reason? I was too busy to get to know those people. Jesus’ command to us is to take the Gospel to the world, starting right in our own yards, our Jerusalem. Once Peter was filled with the Holy Spirit, he made Gospel sharing a priority over everything else, even to the point of losing his life because of it.
I know this is a lot to think about. I spent years using these excuses in my own life, but the Holy Spirit would never let me get away with them. It’s only when I’m actively sharing my faith that I am effectively worshiping God in the way the He intended. I will close with three challenges that you can begin today:
1.) Pray that God would change your heart and begin burdening you for the lost.
2.) Write down a list of people in your life who don’t know Jesus and begin praying for them right now.
3.) Seek to serve where there are lost people.
I look forward to worshiping with you this weekend as we open God’s Word and become equipped to go out and spread the Good News of who Jesus is and what He has done in our lives.