This week Harvest Church heard a powerful message by Pastor Charlie that asked us the question: what do you measure you by? It matters greatly. You see, if you are just measuring yourself in relation to others, then you’re most likely finding yourself in an average life, doing average work, making average choices for yourself and those around you.
As Christians, we should be compelled to be above average. The world isn’t looking to thrive; most people are merely surviving. We should never be okay with just surviving. That’s average. And the truth is, we don’t have to. Everyday we have the opportunity to live for God, to be shepherds for His people, guiding them to His love, grace and promises. Do you have any idea what you’ve got and how many other people desperately need it? Jesus isn’t here on Earth anymore: it’s just us – sent here to do His work.
Faith by itself isn’t enough. (James 2:17 NLT)
We need to be action-oriented. Jesus didn’t just call His disciples together to “hang out.” He called them to go out among the people and do God’s work.
1 Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around to hear Jesus. 2 But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” (Luke 15:1-2 NIV)
27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. (James 1:27 NIV)
Jesus didn’t shy away from those in a lower class or circumstance, He actually went out of His way to “hang out” with the sick, the suffering and the sinners; the widows, the orphans and the lost. In our modern day society, think of how many people could use the love of God! That means we have to do something. It might make us feel uncomfortable, and it might make us feel awkward or even afraid. But when God saved us, He didn’t just want us to be saved, He wanted us to be witnesses to others.
There a two powerful parables that illustrate this:
The Parable of the Lost Sheep
3 Then Jesus told them this parable: 4 “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? 5 And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders 6 and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ 7 I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.
The Parable of the Lost Coin
8 “Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Doesn’t she light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? 9 And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.’ 10 In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” (Luke 15:3-10 NIV)
Think of the joy and spiritual growth it would bring you to know you’ve helped even just one person commit her life to God. To re-set the coordinates of one man’s path towards eternal life in heaven.
3 Things Needed to Reach the Lost
1. Reaching the lost takes Compassion
You can’t start a witness without compassion, without seeing all people as needing the love of God, and feeling that love in your heart as well. Most people don’t realize that “welcomed” in the verse shared above (Luke 15:1-2 NIV) is translated in Greek as “received as friend.” Jesus not only sat and ate with sinners, He received them as friends. The parable of the good Samaritan also demonstrates the compassion we should have for the suffering:
30 In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’
36 “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”
37 The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”
Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.” (Luke 10:30-37 NIV)
2. Reaching the lost takes Effort
We won’t win the lost by sitting in church waiting for them to come to us. We have to reach out and be the voice. How?
- Pray for them
- Reach out through the church (outreach events, ministry opportunities, and service)
- Financially support missions to reach the lost
41 If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. (Matthew 5:41 NIV)
3. Reaching the lost takes Persistence
There’s greater joy in reaching people than any other joy in the world. But it doesn’t come easily, and it doesn’t’ come without consistent and persistent work. Remember the woman who lost the coin, and searched and searched until she located it? It’s with that fervor that we are called to seek out and find the lost. What we’re helping people find is too valuable to lose!
Faith without Good Deeds Is Dead
14 What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone? 15 Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing, 16 and you say, “Good-bye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well”—but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do?
17 So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless. (James 2:14-17 NLT)
At Harvest Church, we are a body of believers striving to go beyond the four walls of our building and into the community. We invite all members, guests, friends, families, neighbors and most importantly – sinners, orphans, widows, and the lost and the suffering, to come with us to grow in the spirit of God, and to reach out to bring others to His love too. We do it with joyful hearts and compassion, effort and persistence.