Pondering: Bearing Witness about the Light

I am presently preaching through the book of Acts, the last two weeks in chapters 18 and 19 we have had mention of those who had only received the baptism of John. Reflecting on that these last few days has caused me to plan a detour for this Sunday back to the Gospel of John explaining a little more about who John the Baptist (Witness) was and what his ministry was all about and what that should mean to us, especially during the Advent season.

First let us look at John 1:6-8 which I believe gives us both a summary of and the purpose of John’s ministry.

 6There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. 8 He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light. (ESV)

 

Witnessing is such an essential part of who we are, it defined John’s ministry and I believe it should define ours as well.

While the witness of the individual is important, more important I believe is the witness of a group of local gathered believers called the Church. We are collectively the Body of Christ in the place where God has placed us (for our church that is the Drexel Gardens Community in Indianapolis, IN.)

I believe that sometimes we send a mixed message to the people around us, who while they have heard of Jesus, they really are not in a place to receive him or the message of the gospel, the condition of their hearts does not allow the message to sink in. We try to give people Jesus who have no clue what it is to receive him. We have people profess a faith in something that they know little or nothing about, not because we haven’t taught them with words, but because we haven’t prepared their hearts to receive him in his fullness.

God  thought that the condition of the heart was so important that he sent John to prepare peoples hearts to believe in Jesus when he did come.

Just maybe we have got this all wrong or at least partially wrong, instead of just telling people about Jesus (which is important) maybe we should invest a little more time in getting to know them and the condition of their hearts.

John’s witness/ministry was about preparing people’s hearts, showing them the need for repentance so that when Jesus came that they would be able to hear and respond to him.

I think we leave this step out sometimes, it is difficult, if not impossible to help/minister to people that you don’t truly know and might I add that don’t know you.

We need to invest time in developing relationships with people, so that we can give them the help that they need, we need to show/witness to the fact that we care about them as people, I believe that it is through  bearing witness in that way, that the light of Christ is allowed to enter into the darkness of their heart.

“There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him.  He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light.”

Pondering …

 

 

 

 

 

Tension Between Gospel and Biblically Driven Mission Models

This is written in response to the following blog:

http://www.edstetzer.com/2011/12/the-mission-of-the-church.html

“It is my hope is that as people debate the mission they might not get distracted from it. On that we can be united.”

My hope to is that we can move past the debate and simply live in the tension between the two. I believe that really is the only way that this will ultimately be productive for the Church.

It is the working together in this tension that a true, strong, lasting relationship can/will be formed, and isn’t that what people need to see modeled so that they can come to know and believe in Christ.

Most people who are either marginal christian or not christian at all don’t give a crap about this debate.

The best witness to them is to see a biblically and gospelly (if that is a word) driven church community faithfully carrying out its mission in the world.

I think we could possibly talk about this forever, but that would be unproductive.

It is time for us to simply get on with living the message. (loose paraphrase from Dietrich Bonhoeffer – The Cost of Discipleship)

Death, Advent and Presence

This week has seen four people that my wife and I care very deeply about lose loved ones, with another person giving us the news that her 14 year old niece has had hospice called in her battle with terminal cancer. As a pastor you would think that maybe I would have an easier time than most dealing with death, for me at least that is not true. I tend to get drawn in to peoples lives and have a hard time separating mine from thiers, their joy becomes my joy and there pain my pain.

I have been pondering today death and Advent, usually when someone close to us dies around the holidays, we tend to look upon it as bad thing. I am sitting here today though thinking that it really doesn’t doesn’t have to be a bad thing, especially at Advent when we are awaiting the coming of our Lord, celebrating his birth and the new life for us that it represents and at the same time remembering his second coming with all of its promises …

I at times have a hard time expressing exactly how I feel, I get choked up even trying to pray or carry on a conversation about someone who is close to me who is suffering, it is something that I  am in no way ashamed of, it is who I am.  I tell people all the time not to worry about finding or having the right thing to say, that your presence is what counts, being present is more important than you know.

A word comes to mind for me this time of year more frequently than at others; that word is Immanuel – God with us and that is what sustains me. God has been made himself known to us in the presence of his son and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. His presence in our lives loses it significance when we fail both corporately ( as the church) and individually to be that presence in a world that and to people that desperately need him.

In the face of death we have the promise of his presence, in the face of death are we being that presence to others who are suffering?

So much more that can be said …

Longing for a community where these things can be more fully realized, but longing faithfully and slowly, knowing that these things take time.

Resting in his sweet embrace, have you allowed someone to rest in yours?