Series: Kingdom Evangelism
Sun 10 June 2012 – Kobus Swart
1 Tim. 3:14-15; Eph. 2:1-22 (Message Bible)
Do you know that people in the world read you? We are living epistles, read and known by all men (2 Cor. 3:2). Before you even open your mouth, people look at how you react when there is a problem. Can you show a different attitude? Do you radiate a different kind of energy? Can people sense an anointing on your life before you even open your mouth? That is what people respond to. If Christians do not live the real Christian life, people will have a problem finding God. They will be put off from going to Church by the lack of positive testimony that we radiate. I am writing these things to you, hoping to come to you before long; but in case I am delayed, I write so that you will know how one ought to conduct himself in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and support of the truth (1 Tim. 3:14-15). If we are a stumbling block, how will they come to the Lord? We are called to reflect God in the earth. He wants to be known. That was God’s purpose in creating Adam and Eve because they were created in His likeness and in His image; they reflected Him. There is a growing “non-Church” population, people who are no longer impressed by the Church because of what they experience from us.
In the Message version of the Bible, it talks about those who are called “insiders” as opposed to those who are called “outsiders”. Other translations talk about Jews and Gentiles. It wasn’t so long ago that you were mired in that old stagnant life of sin. You let the world, which doesn’t know the first thing about living, tell you how to live. Don’t let the world tell you how to live. Who calls the shots in our lifestyles? Stand up and know people are reading you. You filled your lungs with polluted unbelief, and then exhaled disobedience. We all did it, all of us doing what we felt like doing, when we felt like doing it, all of us in the same boat. It’s a wonder God didn’t lose his temper and do away with the whole lot of us. Instead, immense in mercy and with an incredible love, he embraced us. He took our sin-dead lives and made us alive in Christ. He did all this on his own, with no help from us! Then he picked us up and set us down in highest heaven in company with Jesus, our Messiah. Now God has us where he wants us, with all the time in this world and the next to shower grace and kindness upon us in Christ Jesus. Saving is all his idea, and all his work. All we do is trust him enough to let him do it. It’s God’s gift from start to finish! We don’t play the major role. If we did, we’d probably go around bragging that we’d done the whole thing! No, we neither make nor save ourselves. God does both the making and saving. He creates each of us by Christ Jesus to join him in the work he does, the good work he has gotten ready for us to do, work we had better be doing. But don’t take any of this for granted. It was only yesterday that you outsiders to God’s ways had no idea of any of this, didn’t know the first thing about the way God works, hadn’t the faintest idea of Christ. You knew nothing of that rich history of God’s covenants and promises in Israel, hadn’t a clue about what God was doing in the world at large. Now because of Christ—dying that death, shedding that blood—you who were once out of it altogether are in on everything. The Messiah has made things up between us so that we’re now together on this, both non-Jewish outsiders and Jewish insiders. He tore down the wall we used to keep each other at a distance. He repealed the law code that had become so clogged with fine print and footnotes that it hindered more than it helped. Then he started over. Instead of continuing with two groups of people separated by centuries of animosity and suspicion, he created a new kind of human being, a fresh start for everybody. Christ brought us together through his death on the cross. The Cross got us to embrace, and that was the end of the hostility. Christ came and preached peace to you outsiders and peace to us insiders. He treated us as equals, and so made us equals. Through him we both share the same Spirit and have equal access to the Father. That’s plain enough, isn’t it? You’re no longer wandering exiles. This kingdom of faith is now your home country. You’re no longer strangers or outsiders. You belong here, with as much right to the name Christian as anyone. God is building a home. He’s using us all—irrespective of how we got here—in what he is building. He used the apostles and prophets for the foundation. Now he’s using you, fitting you in brick by brick, stone by stone, with Christ Jesus as the cornerstone that holds all the parts together. We see it taking shape day after day—a holy temple built by God, all of us built into it, a temple in which God is quite at home (Eph. 2:1-22).
The world is looking at a divided Church, a Church that is pointing fingers and condemning. Jesus said, “I have come for both. I am bringing ‘outsiders’ and ‘insiders’ together”. Are we reflecting this in the world? Is that what non-Christians receive from us? Wherever you shop, work or go to school, what is it that people pick up from you? It is easy to get a bad attitude when things go wrong. What do we reflect? Is the Church delaying the full unfolding of God’s end time plan? The world is eager and they are looking in all directions, but what can we do to expedite the process? If we say, “Christ lives in me, Christ is the hope of glory to the world”, do we reflect that or do we just say it in the church meetings? Does the world sense that in our attitude, our spirit, in anointing and energy?
We are built on the foundation of apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus the chief corner stone; He holds everything together (Eph. 2:20), but this temple must take on a different pattern. Jesus is saying, “I no longer live in temples built with man’s hands”. Some ask, “Is God dead?” He is in His Body; if they don’t see Him it is our fault. We still talk “insiders”, “outsiders” but Jesus said, “I included them all. At the cross I made the two into one.” Without us being religious they must sense Him in us. That is what the world is seeking.
Let us be those living epistles known and read by all men!