One of the indicators of genuine conversion is the presence of a desire to reach others with the gospel of Jesus Christ. This reality is seen in the life of the Apostle Paul (Acts 9:20), the woman at the well (John 4:29), the demoniac of Gedara (Mark 5:20), a couple of unnamed blind men (Matthew 9:31) and many others. “I am just one beggar showing another beggar where to find bread” is a well-known phrase within Christian circles and it is one I appreciate. This simple sentence conveys the idea that Christians are not trying to be some ‘condescending supernatural beings’ who have somehow earned their salvation, they are ordinary, ‘run of the mill’ people who have been changed by an extraordinary God.
‘I am just one beggar showing another beggar where to find bread.’
Sadly, some believers (or so called) exhibit an attitude of pride and self-accomplishment with regards to their salvation. They may not express it in words, but it is obvious that they look down upon the lost individual as one of lesser value, and unworthy of an invitation to the grace of God. It is my contention that this dangerous opinion comes either from an unregenerate individual in the guise of Christianity; or it is a believer who has ‘forgotten that he was purged from his old sins‘ as mentioned in 2 Peter 1:9. If this poisonous attitude is left unattended within a local church it will not be long before each member is infected and no longer cares for the lost soul in the community. Christians need to be reminded that God is not a respecter of persons and neither should his people be. The Apostle Paul reminds us of this fact when he refers to himself as the ‘chief of sinners’ in 2 Timothy 1:15. Having a good understanding of sin, holiness and justice will guard the believer against these wicked thoughts.
For years I have been involved in church circles which never encouraged a ‘community-focused’ Christianity. Door-knocking, letterbox drops, VBS programs, Youth Programs were all in motion and well organised but were a substitute for real, personal community-focused outreach. It appears that the conservative church has confined the display of Christianity to a one hour kid’s program on a Friday night or a letterbox drop on Saturday mornings. Most church members appear to be satisfied to assist in their local church programs but never actively leave the ‘safe-house’ of the church ministries. They rarely (if ever) venture into the community and uphold a genuine Christianity for people to see. Please do not misunderstand. I am not referring to sitting in the pubs and clubs and enjoying a ‘social drink.’ I speak of actively looking for ways to be involved in the community whether through sports clubs, council meetings, knitting groups, home help committees and so many other opportunities. Offering our skills or services as an avenue of being known in community social circles is a great means of sharing the gospel practically and verbally.
‘People don’t want to know you’re a Christian, they want to see that you’re a Christian.’
As a pastor, it is necessary for me to be known within the community for much more than just the ‘reverend’ and ‘marriage celebrant.’ People need to see that even in the busyness of my ministry workload, I am prepared to invest into lives outside of the church. People should not view me as some ‘super-spiritual being’ (nor should I seek this opinion from others) but an average man whose life has been transformed by the power of God. Approachability is important for the pastor or church leader, and this comes through the realisation that I am a ‘normal’ everyday person who enjoys his sport or chess or woodwork.
Involving yourself in the community comes with a level of vulnerability which is the primary reason we are often unwilling to take this step. It is important to maintain a good testimony in the public arena but it is also important that others see us as we really are. For example, I was playing squash in my local community and it happened to be the Grand Final. At one point during the tournament I allowed my flesh to take control and I threw my racket in the air in frustration. Immediately, I realised that I had sinned in front of a large audience and that I needed to repent and set the record straight. At the conclusion of the match I publicly asked the crowd to forgive me for displaying an attitude which was not befitting a Christian. At the end of my speech, I was approached by many people who were touched by my comment and said that they had never seen a Christian do that before. What a tremendous opportunity to display the gospel to a community of lost squash players!!
The Lord Jesus Christ said ‘Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven’ (Matthew 5:16). In a world where Christianity is completely misunderstood, let’s go to the lost rather than waiting for them to attend one of our church functions.