Be the Church: Go
Yesterday, I explained my reasoning for writing this series on being the church. If you haven't had the chance to read it yet, please do so here! Basically, the aim of this series is to discover what it really means to be the church based on the book of Acts. So here goes! Being the church means that you go. You go. You don't stand still. You don't stay in the same spot. You're not tied to a building. You go. Being the church requires a recognition that you carry the gospel with you. The message of the love of Jesus Christ is a part of you and you declare that message with your very life.
The people of the first church in the book of Acts went. Before Jesus ascended into Heaven, He left His people with this command: "But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the Earth" (Acts 1:8). The disciples were faithful to obey this command. It says in Acts 5:42 "Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Messiah."
Paul is a great example of this. The whole story of Acts recounts how Paul and several other men of God travel from place to place boldly sharing what Jesus' love is all about. At one point, Paul stays in Ephesus for two years, sharing the Gospel until all the Jews and Greeks that lived in the province of Asia had heard the message of salvation. Talk about being persistent.
In the church, we use the word "Evangelism" to describe the act of sharing the gospel. People treat evangelism like it's something scary and unnatural, as though only the most "holy people" are called to do it. Although some people do have extra-giftedness in this particular area, we are all meant to share the love of God with others. It doesn't have to be as scary as we make it out to be though.
Sharing the love of God should come naturally. It will be more and more natural as we open ourselves up to other people, as we show care and concern for others and a genuine desire to get to know their stories. The truth is we see the same people all the time. We go to the same gym, the same store, the same bank and the same restaurants. But we tend to walk around with blinders on, focused only on our own agenda. Imagine how many opportunities we would have to share God's love with the people around us, if we stopped every once in a while to ask how someone's day was going and to learn something about them. What if we weren't so quick to speak, but rather came with a true desire to listen to people as they shared what's going on in their lives and in their hearts. I think too often we treat people like we have an agenda, or at least that's how we are coming across. It can appear to others that our desire is to get the message out as quickly as possible and then be on our way. People, more than anything, want to know someone cares. The church exists to care.
Then, there is the fear of rejection. What will people think if they find out I'm a Christian? Being the church means we don't always play it safe. It means we don't allow the fear of being hurt or ridiculed keep us from expressing the one thing in life that we are most passionate about: our love for Jesus. The first disciples risked everything for the sake of the Gospel. In Acts chapter 7, Stephen spends the last moments of His life telling the world about Jesus right before He is stoned to death. You would think that would stop the Gospel message from going out, but it has the opposite effect. Because of the persecution the disciples faced they were scattered, but as a result the Gospel reached even more people. There are countries where real persecution exists. Here in America we have freedom to share. Take advantage of it!
So go. Go to your friends. Go to your families. Go to your communities and your schools. Carry with you the message of God's love. Be vocal. Be loud. Be brave. Go to the broken, the needy and the heartbroken. Above all else, care. Be genuine in compassion, concern and love for others.
It's about time that we stopped waiting around for a broken world to visit our church on Sunday morning. It's time that we go to them.