Recently we had a guest speaker at our church who reminded us that when we understand God’s amazing grace and mercy in our lives, how could we not have a burden to share the gospel? When truly believe that Jesus is the hope of the world, how could we not be compelled to share that good news? This was a great challenge for us to hear because it is easy to settle into our comfort zones. But if we truly love God, we also love those created in the image of God.
Part of “loving the world around us” is sharing with them the greatest news in the world. The apostle Paul is a good example of this. He writes, “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures.” (1 Corinthians 15:4-5) This is the gospel in a nutshell. Paul could have kept it to himself, but he didn’t. He chose to share what was so graciously delivered to him – the good news of Jesus Christ.
Every once in a while, we sing a hymn at our church called “Set My Soul Afire.” The lyrics to the first verse are as follows: “Set my soul afire, Lord, for Thy holy Word, burn it deep within me, let thy voice be heard; millions grope in darkness in this day and hour, I will be a witness, fill me with Thy power.” One of the pianists at our church, Gerry Sherman, suggested that we make a slight change. Instead of “millions grope in darkness,” to make it, “loved ones grope in darkness.” I agreed with Gerry’s suggestion and so we made the change.
Is it true that millions grope in darkness? Unfortunately yes. In fact, there are billions still in darkness all over the world. But when we say “millions” it sounds distant to us. What could I possibly do about the millions and billions who don’t know Jesus as their Savior? However, when we say, “loved ones” it brings it a little closer to home. We all have loved ones who don’t know Jesus. And most of us have family members who are resistant to the gospel. Do we pray for them? It’s hard to pray for the “millions” who grope in darkness, but we can pray for cousin Billy-Sue who needs Christ in her life.
Let’s extend this a little further. There is no such thing as a “Christian” gated community, and that’s a good thing. This is the beauty of God’s plan for the church. The people of God are spread out all over the world, which means we live among the heathen. Whether at work or home, there are non-Christians around you. This is not something to be fearful of, but something to embrace. God has placed you in a particular context for a reason and He will use you, if only you are willing.
All too often, Christians cut themselves off from the outside world. They are not willing to do the hard (and sometimes messy) work of building relationships with those around them. This means they won’t have the opportunity to share the love of God. If you are a follower of Christ, that means someone in your life loved you enough to share the gospel with you. We can praise God for sending messengers into our lives – people who were willing to tell us the truth about God, man, sin, and salvation. My question for you is this – are you willing to be a messenger of truth? The bible teaches that it is not the messenger who does the saving – that’s God’s work. But if you are willing, God will use you as a bearer of good news. “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” (Romans 10:15)
There are many ways we can “love our neighbors.” But perhaps the most loving thing you can do is to share Jesus Christ with the world around you. After all, it is only Christ who can save us from the power of death. You have a unique circle of friends, family members, co-workers, and neighbors, which means you have a unique opportunity. It is not an accident you are where you are today. Why not pass on the truth that was so graciously delivered to you?